One of the most important and frustrating parts of the admission process is the writing of the college admission essay. I can understand that all too well because staring at a blank sheet of paper or empty screen trying to think about what to write can be very frustrating.This process then gets even worse when you understand there is a lot riding on what is actually written.
What To Write About
The most common complaint I hear from many students is they feel there is nothing really special or interesting they have to write about.
Students often ask me: How can they write an essay that will help them stand out from the crowd? What are the admission officers looking for in their background that will have them stop and consider me?
These are really important questions to ask and write about. After all these admission officers are reading a lot of essays during the processing season. For example, at a typical Ivy League university there may be around 20 staffers each reading 50 essays, per day, six days a week.
That is a lot of reading and this means your student’s essay only has a few seconds to grab the attention of that staff member. These staff members move quickly and there is no time for a second look. Either you student's essay got their attention or it is put in the rejection pile.
The Power of a Headline
All this means that the opening line of the essay must grab the attention of the reader as soon as they look at the paper. The opening sentence must be able to convey what is important and special about your student in one sentence. Simply put there is no time for these readers to go over the entire essay hoping to gleam some insight into what the student has to offer.
Recently, Stanford Admissions released a sample of some of the opening lines from the various essays they received. Here is a quick look at what caught the eyes of Stanford’s admission officers (in no particular order):
- I almost didn’t live through September 11th 2001
- When I was in the eighth grade I couldn’t read
- I have been surfing Lake Michigan since I was three years old.
- I had never seen anyone get so excited about mitochondria
- I have old hands
- While traveling through the daily path of life, have you ever stumbled upon a hidden pocket of the universe?
As you can see these opening lines are captivating and persuade the reader to read more. The idea is to not sound boring or disingenuous, but rather intrigue and entice the admission officers to take notice and want to learn more about the applicant.
My clients have told me that one of the best services college planning ABC provides them is the ability to assist each of them in developing thought provoking college admission essays.
Typically, within the first hour of talking with a student I can provide them with a series of potential opening sentences as well as interesting topics that are specifically suited to their personality and life experiences. Over the years I have developed a formal interviewing process that allows me to pull the most tantalizing facts from any student. Then with proper coaching these students can develop a winning essay that is truly their own.
My goal is to help each student find their unique qualities in such a way that the admission officer reading their essay will want to move their application forward.
Although, admission personnel can change over time, each school has certain qualities and characteristics they seek out in applicants. This means that the essay should be tailor fit to meet those characteristics as well as engage the reader.
The College Planning ABC Advantage
I have been able to guide students over the years because of my firsthand knowledge that I have acquired from working with various universities over the many years. This experience along with my interviewing skills provides each student with the killer essay that will get read.