To that point, I want to say a little bit about what role essays have in college admissions. While student grades and test scores are critical factors in admissions, application essays can be an even more important factor, especially for private, liberal arts colleges and the more selective universities. Like nothing else, essays give readers a sense for how students express themselves and especially how they are unique and different from other applicants. Essays help students stand out from the crowd.
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It may sound cliché, but it's true. This is perhaps the most important tip of all: The word "compelling" came up in all my interviews. Tell the reader a terrific story, hopefully one they've never heard before. Compel them to fight for you by providing as many clues to your character as possible. "I always say the more information you can give a college, the better your ability to write an essay," says Richard Friesner, Director of the Washington Scholars Program at George Mason University's Admissions Office. "Challenge us; we're giving you an opportunity to tell us more about yourself, so you should take that chance." Friesner wants to read an essay and then think, "This is a good kid and I could see them here," he says. "I like to see their passion. They're going to college to learn skills, problem-solving skills that are used in the real world. So show me that passion on why you want to be pre-med, or why dance is the major for you."
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You should absolutely ask others to take a look at your essay before you submit it. As we work on things, we become blind to mistakes that will be glaringly apparent to others. However, limit the number of people you ask to two or three. Asking too many people for feedback will only confuse you and result in a lower quality essay as you revise the essay according to each person’s advice. Therefore, look to individuals who have background and expertise in the college admissions process.