It’s essay season! How many do think you’ll write?
Twelve? Seven? Thirty-eight? More?
There are many factors that will cause that number to rise or fall. The number of college applications. (Remember the Million Dollar Scholar?) The number of essay-based scholarships…that ask different questions. If you’re using the Common Application. If your personal statement could be written once and shared multiple times. If the application requires that you pick four of eight questions.
Not only will the number of essays vary, your word limit will vary as well. Aside from short-answers, essay word limits could be 250 or even 1000 words! And word limit is just that – a limit. Do not exceed! Do not pass! Creatives, just this once, do not color outside the lines!
You’ve heard how important the essay is to the admission process. Highly selective colleges may give the essay more value than others. Some colleges use the essay as a final deciding factor if they’re on the fence about accepting your application.
At most colleges, the essay may be less than ten percent of an application, yet students may spend more time writing than completing the actual application. This is one reason to get your essay prompts early in the summer and start writing – especially your personal statement.
In the Journal of College Admission (Summer 2018), Ashley Dobson talked about about the essay process with a few seniors.
Angela Weiss said, “It took a lot of my time, especially first semester senior year. It was extremely stressful to balance applying for college and still balancing schoolwork.” She wrote fourteen essays.
Students are applying to more colleges than ever before.
Dobson wrote, “According to the Higher Education Research Institute, 35 percent of first-time freshmen applied to seven or more colleges during the Fall 2016 admission cycle. More than 80 percent of first-time freshmen apply to at least three colleges each year.”
This is one reason why students are hiring professionals to review their essays. While it is unethical and illegal to write admission essays, having them reviewed for content, structure, and grammar is beneficial.
College planners are good choices for many college-bound students who are attempting to balance athletics, academics, and applications.
Remember, along with writing the application essays, students have to complete research papers, projects and vocabulary tests. And take time to breath. There is so much to do!
The essay prompts are unique, but sometimes confusing.
The essay prompts are too philosophical, and not personal.
Dobson also heard from Anna Jace, who shared about the different approaches to writing. “We learn academic essay writing, so we learn how to form an argument and things like that. But for colleges, it was more creative writing and writing about yourself, which kind of took me by surprise.”
If you are an underclassman, understand that grades and grammar are the keys to success in college. Keep learning how to read. Keep learning how to write.
If you are a junior, make a note to begin writing your personal statement (250- and 500-word versions) in June. Then get the essay prompts from the Common Application, UC Application, or Coalition Application and start writing.
If you are senior, now that it is September, it is time to finalize your college essays. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts provided by Cyndy McDonald of GuidedPath.
College Essay General Do’s and Don’ts
Your college essay, along with your high school record, standardized test scores, and extracurricular involvement, will provide the basis upon which the college makes its admissions decision. A thoughtful, well-written essay can positively affect that final decision. Keep this in mind and take full advantage of the opportunity which the college essay affords you.
No matter how many essays you need to write, contact me if you have any questions or need someone to review your work.
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.