For most students it is a challenge trying to figure out what to highlight in a college application essay. Should you focus more on clubs, sports, and extracurriculars, or would an impressive list of academic achievements be better?
Believe it or not, your future school is probably dealing with the same questions. Grade inflation means that it can be difficult to differentiate students by their academic achievements alone, and most good students also have a wealth of extracurricular activities that make the job even harder. As a result, colleges are increasingly looking to your essay for a better idea of who you are.
This makes it all the more important to get your essay right—but it can be daunting when it feels like every word is important. We asked our admissions experts what they usually look for, and came up with the following dos and don’ts for a great college essay.
Write for your audience. Most students apply to around eight schools, but make the mistake of using the same essay for each. Every school has a different set of values and characteristics, and you need to show admissions officers that you have them too—so tailor your response!
Take note when prompted. Some essay questions are open-ended and allow you to choose your topic, but when a school asks a specific question, make sure you answer it. Do your research and think about how you can use the topic to showcase your own experiences.
Use examples. You might say you want to run your own business one day, but statements like this are much more powerful if you can give examples of how you are progressing towards your goals. Link statements to examples wherever you can, and then further link these to your choice of program and school.
Be passionate and heartfelt. Give the admissions committee a reason to be excited about having you on their campus. Your future college wants talented students, but it is just as important to them that they are engaged—so show them what motivates you and how it will transfer to your degree.
Take your time: Very few people produce their best work under time pressure, so make sure you take breaks to give yourself a chance to refocus and gain a new perspective on your writing. You should also have someone else take a look at your work—other people can often spot problem areas or typos that you would have otherwise missed.
Write one long paragraph. Structure your ideas into clearly defined sections and it will pay off—an introduction, middle, and a conclusion will help admissions officers to understand your points as they read through quickly.
Over-state the facts: Making a two-week internship sound like you were the CEO of a Fortune 500 company won’t improve your standing in the eyes of the admissions committee. Be honest—they’ll appreciate it.
Try and cram too much in: If your essay feels like a list of your various classes, clubs, jobs, and accomplishments, it won’t help the admissions committee understand what you’re like as a person. Try not to exceed the requested word count, be focused, and edit yourself well.
Use complex language: Focus on plain, correct English to make your statement clear and easy to read. Overcomplicating your language might demonstrate a wide vocabulary, but it won’t help your clarity. If you’re producing an essay, this is your chance to demonstrate your writing skills and the fact that you know what’s appropriate when—a critical asset for a university student.
Remember, admissions committees receive thousands of personal statements, and they have limited time to read them, so you need to stand out. Ask yourself if your essay truly reflects you, or just sounds like anyone else you know. Be clear, let your talents shine through, and make your reason for applying to their school obvious.
If you would like to find out more about Hult’s global business programs, download a brochure here.
Many middle school kids compare high school to the various movies that have been made to represent what it is like. Most of the movies that I have watched have not done a good job showing what high school really is.
My first impression when I first entered high school was that I will probably be in classes with most of my friends and know a lot of the kids in my grade, unfortunately I was wrong. When I got to school in the morning on the first day I realized how large the school was, and how many students went there. The size of the school alone was intimidating, and very easy to get lost in.
When I got to my first class I had not a single friend in the class, and I only vaguely recognized two or three people (now when I get to classes every day I realize how many new friends I have made). I also did not realize how many middle school students matriculated from.
Stress is one word that I would use describe high school with. Stress, I used to think that I knew what stress was but now I realize that I didn’t. Within the first two weeks of school I was already swamped with homework, tests/quizzes, and essays. Before high school I had a pop quiz maybe once, but now I am having them every week!
I did not know my backpack could carry so much, because I have had to stuff it with all my textbooks, binders, spirals, dictionaries, and a bunch of random papers. My backpack feels like it has 50 bricks inside it!
In middle school I used to always have so much free time, and now if I ever get time to myself it is cherished. I have never been so tired in my life because in middle school my homework used to just an hour. Now, I am doing homework from when I get home until five or six at night.
I always underestimated how hard it would be to get into my dream college, Yale, but now I idolize the people whom have gotten in and the work they must have done to get in. But, no amount of work/effort will stop me from trying to get in. Whenever I was absent from school I used to enjoy sleeping in and not having to do any work, but now I would come to school with a broken neck just so I don’t have to miss anything.
Although there are some downsides to high school, there are also some positive things that come with it. In middle school one was basically in a cage with only a limited amount of freedom and now in high school one is able to be free to do what ever floats their boat.
I am loving the way that teachers treat students as adults and don’t speak to me like I am a 6-year-old. One of the best part of high school is the millions of clubs offered ranging from a Great Films Club to a community service club.
One of the main things keeping me going in high school is the thought of college and learning new things. All I can think to myself is, “Ace this test for Yale,” or “Go above and beyond on this essay for college.”
I look forward to each day of school because I know that there is more information for me to acquire and sometimes mistakes to learn from. I always keep any comment or suggestion, from a teacher or student, in the back of my mind to help me in the future.
One of the most important parts of high school is the knowledge you gain and the friends you make.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” this is the most high-school relatable quote that Ferris Bueller says in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” This was the one bit of advice people gave me that stood out; enjoy high school and don’t just stress too much about it.