Where exactly does the personal statement fit in the college application process?
For some admissions readers, it’s the first thing they look at. And as everyone knows, first impressions are everything.
But for larger, more numbers oriented admissions offices, the personal statement may be lightly scanned and play a relatively small—if any—role in the decision to admit or reject.
Regardless of the size or mission of the institution, everyone agrees that the evaluation of personal statements is an entirely subjective process. There’s no science here.
And no two readers are alike in their approach to essays, so responses can vary enormously—even within the same admissions office!
While no essay will make an unqualified student suddenly acceptable, a good essay can help a qualified applicant stand out from the competition.
And a great essay might just be what turns a “maybe” into an “admit.”
You'll find all kinds of advice on the internet on what goes into writing a winning essay. But perhaps the most useful may be found directly on college websites and comes from those who read them.
Here are 14 excellent essay tips from admissions offices and those folks who are likely reading your essays. While you’re at it, check out a few “essays that worked” from Johns Hopkins University, Connecticut College, and Tufts University.