By Brianna Burrows
There are many requirements to apply to college, such as your SAT score or TOEFL score. There is one element to the application process that can be the most difficult for students: the essay. Your essay, or personal statement, is a key deciding factor in your application. A majority of colleges and universities believe the essay to be of considerable or moderate importance to determining your acceptance. Many students wonder though, what do admissions officers look for in my essay? Here are some elements that admissions officers look for in your essay.
What Makes You Unique?
You are competing with a lot of other students who have similar test scores and grades. Therefore, your essay or personal statement is your opportunity to showcase what makes you stand out from others. This is your chance to humbly brag about your life. Admissions officers look for unique experiences beyond traditional education such as volunteer work, travel, or overcoming personal adversity. Make sure to pick one specific experience to write about. You don’t want to write about your whole life story as your transcripts, grades, and test scores already cover a wide extent of your life.
Can You Write?
In college, you are going to be spending a tremendous amount of time writing. Your essay provides insight into your ability as a writer. Writing is an essential skill with most professions today. Writing is going to be involved whether you’re writing emails or writing a report. Your writing should be organized well with proper structure and syntax. Also, make sure to have no grammar and spelling mistakes. Your writing should be meaningful and appealing to your reader. The voice of your writing should be similar to the way you speak. If you talk like a smart 18-year-old, then write with vocabulary that an 18-year-old would use. You shouldn’t be trying to use your SAT vocabulary words in your essay.
What Will You Contribute to the Community?
Admissions officers want to know how you will enhance your community if accepted. Colleges are increasingly aware of the value of cultural diversity in the student body. If you are an international student, simply saying you are not from ‘here’ is not enough. How will you bring your culture to the community and share it with students? This ties into what makes you unique. Be specific about your cultural experiences and how you might share them with the campus and surrounding community.
It’s important to remember that some undergraduate and graduate programs may not require a personal statement. It is best to check your specific department’s requirements. If you spend a fair amount of time working on your essay or personal statement, you’re bound to impress your readers.
Brianna Burrows is a freelance marketing specialist and alumna of Northeastern University. She specializes in event management, social media management, and content branding. Follow her on Twitter here.