In the US admissions process, colleges and universities generally use three criteria for determining which students to admit and deny: academics and coursework, standardized test scores (SAT and ACT), and the university essay. We’ll focus on the last one for this blog, since it allows for the most flexibility.
What’s the purpose of the university essay?
Think of it as the best way for an admissions officer to get to know you without meeting you in person. It provides you with the greatest opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants.
First of all, the university essay needs to be a powerful, creative and unique topic, but also well written. Sometimes a student becomes known for their essay topic; remember the “Pizza Girl” topic that went viral? AHEC students have written many creative essays over the years, including uniquely-shaped ears, a face full of freckles, and having a fear of clowns.
Pick The Right Topic
Admissions officers need to learn something new about your, so your university essay must be something that is not already represented in your application. Above all, focus on something new and truly unique about yourself when it comes to the main essay.
Best Time to Write
During your long break from school in June, July and August…. so, NOW! It almost always takes multiple drafts to write a great university essay, so leave yourself plenty of time to edit. Check out our Junior Year Checklist with 5 ways to help you jump start the application process.
Get The Attention
Admissions officers usually speed-read essays, especially when they receive tens of thousands of them. If you don’t grab their attention from the very beginning, they probably won’t read your main university essay thoroughly. Be creative!
For nearly 1,000 schools in the US, the Common Application and Coalition Application essay prompts for 2019-2020 are available now, and are updated or revised annually. If your main university essay is for one of these prompts, it can usually be tweaked for other popular applications like the University of California system (released in the Fall)
AHEC Tip: Come up with the topic first and then decide which prompt it fits under best!
By Laura Nye