Whether you are applying to college for the first time or you are applying to a graduate program, you will most likely need to write an admissions essay. Colleges are no longer just relying on standardized test scores as their sole basis for accepting applicants. Most colleges are relying on the standardized test scores along with essays, because the test scores will tell one story and the essays tell another. Test scores do not show the whole person, but rather a tiny snapshot of time. Essays, on the other hand, show college admissions committees what each person is really like, especially when the admissions committees use powerful essay prompts.
When students are tasked with writing their admissions essays, they are usually give rather vague instructions. They might be given a topic and a word count, but very little else. This causes some frustration with students about how much personal information they should include in the essay. Since college admissions committees want to know about the students who could become their students and representatives, they want to know some personal information. However, colleges do not need to know too much. Students need to reach the fine line that provides just the right amount of information without providing too little or too much. This is where the challenge rests.
Students who are writing their application essays should avoid including anything that the college could learn from the college application and from the standardized tests. Usually, students know their test scores before they write their essays. So, if you have loved math classes all through school and you have excellent math test scores, then you probably do not need to reveal that you are a good student in math. Try not to be obvious. You should only share information that you are comfortable sharing and that will not get you into any kind of trouble. Do not share anything about illegal activities, unethical behavior, or family situations. You should also not share anything about your religious beliefs, unless you are applying to a college in your religious background. Your personal information could be examples that help support an argument you are trying to make or about connections you made during learning experiences at school. Keep the examples authentic, because they will be believable to the committee members. No matter what you do, keep the writing focused on the prompt the school provided.
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