The Common Application will open on August 1 for the new cycle of 2014 college applications. Many students are trying to get a head start on the application essays prior that date. It is a great idea to at least start the brainstorming portion of the essay writing process; however, students should not feel as though they need to have everything completed before the start of the senior year. But where to start? What is the college looking for? Ted Spencer, Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director at The University of Michigan, Undergraduate Admissions, says that “the most important thing is to hear the student’s voice. We’re looking for a story.” In interview after interview with college admissions directors, the idea is the same. They want to know who you are, what will you bring to their community. They are not interested in a typical English class essay; they want a story — your story.
Members of the high school class of 2014 would do well devoting time this summer crafting essays that are specifically written to speak to each university to which they will apply, especially if they plan to apply to highly competitive colleges. Paul Levy of the Star Tribune posts an article illustrating the importance of the essay. The bottom line – resist the temptation to write a one-size fits all essay. When writing the “Why I am a good fit for XYZ University” be sure that you could not simply replace the name of the school to have a brand new essay. Take the opportunity to reveal who you are, what you bring to that specific community, as well as specifics about why you would thrive in that environment.