Many colleges want to get a better idea of who you are and what you want to do than your academic record will reveal. They often require one or more essays as part of the application process. Some essay questions will have specific prompts and others may be left up to your discretion. Even if the application states that answering an essay is optional, it is typically better to provide one so that the admissions staff can get an idea of who you are as a person, not just a set of grades and test scores.
Common admission essay questions include:
- Describe how attending this college helps you meet your plans for the future.
- What does “diversity” mean to you? How would you add to the diversity of this student body?
- How have you demonstrated leadership in high school?
- Write a personal statement that will help us get to know you better.
Keep in mind that your ultimate objective in answering all of these questions is to convey why you are a good selection for the college and why the college is a good fit for you. (i.e. Why you? Why them?) As you construct your answers, give enough examples or personal stories to help the reader feel like they have just met you. When it comes to questions where you must elaborate on why the college is a good fit for you, make sure you have researched the school’s strengths and specific programs that have gained your interest.
When you are finished, get a teacher or other adult to critically review and edit your essay. Did you open with a strong and engaging sentence? Did your essay give examples and let the reader get to know you? Is your grammar and spelling perfect? Make an effort to use descriptive words that express what you are trying to say? Instead of saying, “I really want to come to Davidson College.”, you could say, “Since I hope to go on to medical school, the fact that Davidson’s professors of biology often include the students in research and publications is especially exciting. The fact that such a high percentage of biology majors get admitted to medical school is a testament to the standard of preparation to which Davidson is committed.”
Your essays should give the admissions staff a clear idea of who you are and what you will bring to the campus. Write them well and they may open doors to a great future.