What Do Colleges Look for in College Essays?

What Do Colleges Look for in College Essays?

Knowing what the admissions team is looking for will help you do a great job of getting yours noticed.

In order to select applicants from among the thousands of applications they receive, colleges use a variety of criteria. Most of us consider school grades or admission test scores to be the most crucial factor.

The fact is that your application essay may be the deciding element in whether or not you get a job, even if other criteria are average. That ought to be motivation enough to get you to work hard on the essay.

You can achieve all of those objectives with the help of a well-chosen topic, and you can get started on that search by using the suggestions below.

What Do Colleges Look for in College Essays?

What then do colleges look for in essays? The solution reflects the qualities that colleges seek in applicants. In order to hit the right notes, you should take into account the viewpoint and even the mission statement of the college, which, of course, values intelligence, a strong work ethic, and the kind of personality that will represent the institution.

Therefore, the core aspects that admissions officials at any institution look for in an essay are:

  • Intelligence
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ambition and goals
  • Creativity
  • Proactivity and self-direction
  • Interest in education and self-betterment
What Do Colleges Look for in College Essays?

Colleges want students who will make their institution stronger, so these criteria are not based on any impersonal moral consideration. Since grades only cover a small portion of these essential skills and qualities, they will be looking for evidence of these qualities in your personal essay.

Be mindful that an admissions officer (a real person) will read your essay and react to it on both a rational and emotional level in addition to these other factors. That feeling is frequently boredom.

Remember that during each admissions season, these officials read hundreds of application essays. But if your essay can successfully win them over, then you’ll be getting a letter that begins with a “We are delighted to announce…”

What Does Your Essay Say About You?

  • In tackling a difficult subject, you demonstrate creativity and originality. The topics can occasionally be intentionally provocative to test your ability to respond to a novel query.
  • It reveals your driving forces and motivations, as well as your reasons for believing you should be accepted into the college you are applying to.
  • Your capacity to communicate in writing. The use of flowery language and tiresome jargon should be avoided in favor of maintaining your own distinctive voice. Always be succinct, natural, and clear when writing.
  • How enthusiastic you are about the topic. Your writing style and level of research will show how much time and thought you’ve put into the subject and how much you genuinely enjoy it.
  • It reveals whether or not you can contribute something original to a conversation. Anyone can use online resources or receive opinions as the foundation for their research, but you can really impress the admissions committee by offering a fresh viewpoint on a stale topic.
  • Your thoughtfulness. Your essay’s content demonstrates this.
  • Your capacity for analysis and reasoning. The conclusions you come to show how well you can connect the dots and spot patterns even though everyone has access to the same data.
  • Your capacity for critical thought. One of the things that makes an essay successful is its ability to do this. The ability to recognize what makes sense and what doesn’t is far more valuable than simply regurgitating information you have learned elsewhere.
  • It demonstrates your capacity to build logical arguments.

It can be challenging to convey each of these traits in a single essay while still adhering to the requirements and word limit. You might not have enough time to devote as much time to each essay as you would like if you have several applications to complete.

What Do Colleges Look for in College Essays?

Qualities Colleges Look for to Include in Your Essay

The majority of accomplishments that colleges look for will appear on your college application, so these have been omitted from the list below. Your application essay should highlight your accomplishments that demonstrate your passion, drive, and internal and external motivations.

Challenging Extracurricular Activities

Students who go beyond the requirements of the classroom are what colleges want to see. Your choice of activities reveals a lot about your personality, morals, and even values. Your ability to commit to significant long-term projects is demonstrated by whether or not you stick with your chosen endeavors.

Volunteer and Work Experience

Any experience you have that demonstrates sincere dedication, leadership potential, and a concern for the local community is advantageous to your application. Describe the businesses or organizations you worked for, along with your responsibilities there. Be sure to include any promotions or special recognitions you may have received.

Talents and Passions

More colleges are moving away from accepting students who did the most “stuff” to look for those who focus their energy on specific areas that they’re passionate about. Schools want to know what makes you unique and how much effort you’re willing to put into the things you’re passionate about.

Obstacles Or Challenges You Have Overcome

The capacity to grow from setbacks and overcome obstacles in order to succeed is one of the most crucial characteristics of a good college student. Focus your essay on the specific challenges or difficulties you encountered, how you overcame them, and what you took away from the experience.

In the end, admissions officers are more impressed by a student who overcame adversity and still succeeded than they are by a student who was given every advantage and got by on position and intelligence.

Conclusion: What Do Colleges Look for in Essays?

Truthfully, most essays are boring and formulaic. Students have no idea what to write to stand out from the hundreds of other essays admissions staff and faculty members will read. The personal essay, however, need not be such a terrifying beast if your student knows how to write one that will stand out from the competition.

What matters is that your essay expresses your uniqueness and personal viewpoints. You are initially being asked to write one for this very important reason, among others. The college is interested in learning your opinions and mentality.


What is Appropriate for a College Essay?

The best way to tell your story is to write a personal, thoughtful essay about something that has to mean for you. Your distinctive qualities will come through if you are sincere and honest. A staggering number of forgettable college essays are read by admissions committee members.

What Are the Essay Requirements for Harvard?

Harvard requires two 150-word essays and one non-required third essay. International students can also add a 50-word supplement.

Which GPA Do Most Colleges Look At?

An unweighted GPA is the most popular grade point average reporting scale. Throughout much of America, it is taught in high schools and colleges.

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