When I was a senior in high school, I was obsessed with getting into all the colleges to which I applied (16). As a result, I wrote college essays constantly and stressed myself out more than was ever required. To begin with, applying to 16 colleges was stupid, especially when I knew I had no real interest in attending some of them. Based on my experience, I would recommend getting the number under 10 before starting your essays. After that, it’s just a matter of getting them done.
Don’t write a paper about how fulfilling something was if you didn’t get anything out of it. The people who are reading your applications are doing so to get to know you. They want to hear something interesting about you and your life, not an exaggerated story about the life-changing experience of working at JC Penney.
Write something original.
Try to pick a topic you believe to be unique. Due to the large equestrian program at Sweet Briar College, the admissions counselors read tons of essays about falling off a horse and being afraid to get back on. While that might have been a meaningful event in your life, they’ve already heard it about a thousand times. Instead, write about an important conversation you’ve had, the reason you want to go to college, or a great failure you’ve experienced.
Proofread, and then have two other people proofread your essay.
The admission essay you write for any college will be used to not only show what’s interesting about you, but also to showcase your writing ability. I find it helpful to read the paper sentence by sentence first for grammatical errors, and then all at once to check for voice and flow. Put your best font forward. Don’t use Comic Sans, but instead opt for something like Calibri or Times New Roman.
While an essay may influence your scholarship if you’re right on the edge, it is typically not the difference between getting the big envelope (acceptance packet) or the small business-sized letter (the dreaded rejection). Trust that you have done everything you can up to this point and that your essay is just a snapshot of who you are as a person. Enjoy your last few months in high school and start picking out a rug for your new dorm.
Most of the factors that will affect your admission to college are already over. All that is left to do once you’ve hit “submit” is to admit that you are powerless over your application; no fearless moral inventory is necessary. Do the best you can, and allow yourself to go to your graduation stress-free and ready for the next step.
McKenna Snyder ’20 is a double major in philosophy and government with a minor in religion. She is from “the greatest city on Earth” — Knoxville, Tenn. — and the only problem she has with Sweet Briar is that it’s a Pepsi campus.