July 27th, 2014

Worth a BIG Effort – the College Application Essay

You’ve racked up great scores on the ACT and SAT tests, you’ve worked hard to get good grades and your recommendations are stellar. Yet you find yourself on your preferred school’s waiting list. A casual effort on the college application essay may be the reason.

Over the past 10 years the college application essay has become an increasingly important metric for getting into college. The reason? Colleges get multiple looks at you as a student through test scores, grades and teacher recommendations, but little sense of you as a person. The college application essay is often the only means that admissions officers get to know the person behind the scores. And this is often the difference between getting into the college you’ve dreamed of  versus settling for your “safe” school.


The essay is also the best way to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Have solid SAT and ACT scores? Great GPA? Active in athletics and a number of clubs? Studied abroad in France? So have thousands of other students across the country, many of whom share a resume that looks exactly like your own. The essay is the only part of the application where students present themselves as real people who hold sincere values and vulnerabilities, with distinct personalities and problems to overcome.

At Test Preps, Inc., we tutor hundreds of students each year who put many hours into studying SAT vocabulary and pacing themselves on ACT tests only to dash off an essay with little guidance. Parents and students need to know that an essay alone cannot make up for a poor academic record, but admissions officers admit that you can write yourself into a school. To do so, however, students need to know the essentials of a successful college application essay and the pitfalls to avoid, which will be the topic of our next blog.

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