What admission officers look for in college applications?
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Every year, thousands of applications are scrutinized by admission officers throughout all the universities. Standing out among this cluster is a formidable task for every applicant. Though most admission officers try their best to examine every application, it’s difficult for them to constrain themselves over a single profile. Hence, it’s up to the applicants, to leave a fleeting impact over the officer for them to come back to their applications.

Universities select applicants on the basis of essays written by the applicants. Many students write essays that are too clichés or too shallow. Others write essays that are impersonal and uninformative. While no essay can save an unqualified application, but an outstanding essay can move a rather mediocre application in the ‘yes’ pile. Here are a few things a college admission officer looks for:

An applicant’s write-up

In college, it is essential for students to write a lot. Thus the first thing the officer is going to notice is if you can write. Your essay should be well organized and coherent, it should have a well thought out idea development and be properly paragraphed. Writing should be engaging and expressive, in the essence, you should use the active voice and vary your sentence structures. And of course, your essay should be free of any grammatical and spelling mistakes.

What does the essay portray about the applicant?

Most essays fails to put shed any light upon the applicant’s own personality. No matter how emotionally moving or how descriptive your write-up is, if you don’t relate these thoughts back to yourself, your essays will fail to impress. The essence of writing the essay should be to project a persona of yourself to the admission officer, as if they have known you on a personal level.

Deep, personal reflections displayed through the essay

Ingenuity, that’s the word every admission officer looks for in an essay. Your writing needs to include reflections that are deep and personal, without which your essay may seem shallow or generic. It is important to notice that the officers are interested in ‘why’ and not ‘what’ of your essay. They can flip through your extra-curriculars and know the ‘whats’, but it’s the reasons that will make you stand out to them.

It is also a bad idea to cover too much in your essay, lay the grounds only for your specializations and describe it in breadth.

What will the applicant bring to the community?

Admission officers want to discover what you can contribute to the college. If your application describes you as an active, successful and contributing personality, you are in. The effective highlights of the essay will be the ones which will show your genuine self. A good essay requires a good deal of introspection of your strong points and the ability to best portray them. On the contrary, avoid mentioning your failures which will reflect you negative characteristics. Be cautious of treading onto controversial and potentially offensive topics. Avoid sounding naïve, lacking in self-awareness or patronizing.

How well the qualities in the essay resonate in the application?

It is important for applicants to showcase their true self onto the essay as well as the application. The personality shown in the essay, however impressive it is, should not be vastly different than what it shows on your application. There should be a consistent portrayal of your personal qualities.

Your personal statements are your one opportunity to connect with the admission officer on a personal level and to compel them to look for a reason to select you.

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