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Home > Blog > October 2010 > Applying to College: The Essay

It’s that time of the year again. High school seniors are scrambling to finish their college applications and hoping to get into the college or university of their choice. If you are currently going through the application process or are thinking of applying to college, don’t overlook the importance of writing a stellar college essay.  

Practically every college or university requires its applicants to write an essay to be considered for admission. The essay is a key component in the college application process because it gives you the opportunity to establish personal connections with admissions officers (and if you are fortunate enough, the entire admissions committee). Some colleges and universities will require you to write multiple essays, each with its own set of instructions. In this case, you will be writing an essay based on a prompt, question, or hypothetical situation provided in the application.

While a high GPA and strong standardized test scores are important aspects of the college application process, a quality essay may strengthen your chance of admission at the school of your choice. Although other candidates may have higher SAT or ACT scores, you can impress admissions officers by writing a stronger essay. An essay written for admission to any college or university should be grammatically flawless, structurally coherent, and contain some of the applicant’s personal life story. Essays that provide examples of perseverance through harsh conditions and long odds may warrant special consideration from the admissions committee. An essay may also stand out if it highlights an attribute in the candidate which may add diversity to the college or university in question.

For example, if you are employed and successfully maintain your job while attending school, you may want to emphasize how this reflects your strength of character and ability to succeed. Feel free to also share a unique aspect about yourself that may enhance the diversity of the college or university. If you play an unusual instrument, such as the harp, or can speak multiple languages, let the admissions officers know! The admissions committee wants to know what sets you apart from other applicants. Every applicant has a personal story, and if your story is expressed the right way on paper, it may greatly increase your chance for admission. Take advantage of this opportunity and use the essay to share what makes you special.

Before you go, read on to find out about the Free Library of Philadelphia’s College Prep Program! And we’d like to know more about you... Feel free to answer the question below as a comment as well.

If you would like to receive personalized, one-on-one help with any aspect of the college application process—including writing your college essay—feel free to drop by the Free Library of Philadelphia’s College Prep Program. A College Student Coach will be available on most Saturdays to answer any of your questions and even review your essay if you would like!

Workshops and drop-in sessions are offered on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. at the following locations: Walnut St. West Branch, Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library, Northeast Regional Library and the Widener Branch. (Formal workshops are also offered at the Parkway Central Library on select Saturdays). For more information, please email Collegeprep@freelibrary.org or call 215-686-5372 Monday-Friday, between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Question: Where are you in the college application process? Are you a freshman in high school who is interested in attending college or a senior in the midst of finalizing college applications­­­­­—or somewhere in between?

 

Tags: College Prep

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Sun, October 24, 2010
The College application process is such a drag. So overly involved and tedious. I am hoping that by the time my kids are in college, the process is much more streamlined. Thank you.
Mon, November 01, 2010
You share such a nice experience.
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Tue, November 02, 2010
I'm a writer and every day I improve my skills, so this help became useful for me!!!!
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Wed, November 03, 2010
Looks great! What a wonderful and creative idea.
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Thu, November 04, 2010
Great article Really useful Love it.
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Tue, December 07, 2010
Great advice. www.collegeizer.com is another great resource for college help and advice.
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Thu, January 20, 2011
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