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By our guest writers EssayEdge. The Harvard educated admissions essay editors.

Please click here for the full list of essay help pages

Lesson One: Tackling the Question

Introduction

Think of the essay as the face of your application. An application without an essay is a statistic—just another faceless person in a crowd. An application with a poorly written essay does not give admissions officers the chance to care about you. Use simple psychology: make them feel that they know you, and it will be harder for them to reject you. Make them know you AND LIKE YOU, and they might accept you despite your weakness in other areas. Understanding the importance of the essay is a necessary first step toward perfecting your application. If you are normally a procrastinator, you should understand that your success depends entirely on the amount of time and effort you put into the essay writing process. If all of this has you sweating, you can relax now. Taking this process seriously is the first step. This course will help you get through the other steps. 

Admissions essay questions tend to be very broad and difficult to tackle. Yet, it is imperative that you actually answer the question in your essay. It should go without saying, but if your essay does not address the question, then everything you learn in the rest of this course is for naught.

While looking at your application, you are probably asking yourself: “Why in the world are these admissions people asking me this question?  What do they want me to write about?” While there is no one answer to either of these questions, there is some reason behind the most popular questions posed by applications.

Continue on for Question-Specific Strategies on the most common application questions and Sample Essays with comments by admissions officers.

Select One:

EssayEdge Extra: Who’s Reading My Essay?

Contrary to popular belief, all admissions officers are not old men with bowties and English accents. In fact, the first people to read your application are often people not much older than yourself. At most colleges and universities, recent graduates of the college serve as assistants, conducting the first read on all of the essays. If they like your essay, they will pass it on to the associate directors or only read what the assistants pass along. Then, the associate directors choose which essays to pass along to the director, who makes the final decision. So essentially, the mysterious group that holds your future in its hands is composed of a few recent grads of the college, a couple of associate directors, and a director who must evaluate thousands of applications in a month or two. The moral of the story: Don’t write your essay for an old British guy. Be yourself. Write in a relaxed tone.

From Essays that will get you into College, by Amy Burnham, Daniel Kaufman, and Chris Dowhan. Copyright 1998 by Dan Kaufman.  Reprinted by arrangement with Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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An Ed-U-Kate production. This page was produced 16 February 2001 and last edited 9th June 2015.
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