The fall and early winter are seasons where I jump into a hole and read many undergraduate and graduate applications. In the last several years I have read nearly 10,000 applications for undergraduate admission to my alma mater. From that experience, I want to share a few observations that can help with the execution of a well planned and prepared application package:
1) Proof read!
I know, it’s the life long struggle that English teachers face in classes throughout the country. The application being sent to colleges (undergraduate and graduate) is a reflection of the applicant. Each word is significant. Misspellings (and other blatant grammatical errors) make me, as a reader, think that the applicant failed to take extra time to review before hitting submit.
2) Use every word allowed
When completing the student activities or volunteer work, applicants are generally asked to give a short description of how they spent their time. This is the time to showcase what activities you helped to create and execute, how much money you may have raised, what you did to help team build, how you decided to teach your siblings to read. If you can’t think of something to write, describe what you may have learned while investing your time in the activity.
3) Your personal statement must be about YOU the applicant
Although I am sure that the family struggles play a significant role in our life and could explain why your family landed “here,” but it is important that the applicant explain how this situation shaped the applicant. When applicants write about the struggles of other people and move the focus away from them, they fail to share important information to the admissions officer/application reader. We call this a “missed opportunity.”
4) Additional Information?
If you think there is a discrepancy in your application somewhere-feel free to explain it in the additional comments-that’s what the box is for. Explain why a math grade fell in 11th grade but did not effect other subjects. Explain the reasoning behind language courses or the decision to pursue more or less of one particular language. If you were advised one way in your class schedule-state it! It is important to help the admissions reader understand the “why” question on all parts of the application. Admissions officers are not at liberty to assume ANYTHING on your application.
Remember, while applicants may spend hours on applications for admissions, the admissions reader often spends 5-10 minutes on the application, more time if the applicant is a good candidate for admission. Essays must be succinct, details are important, and asking for assistance will help boost your application in the sea of students seeking admissions to the university.
Anyone interested in getting feedback on an application essay or on an application for admission, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to give some insight on anyone’s application-undergraduate or graduate. Happy writing.