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  #1  
Old 11-25-2007, 10:28 PM
ohioguy218 ohioguy218 is offline
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Default Do College Admissions Essays really matter?

Ok ... So I've been writing admissions essays for the past few weeks and I'm starting to stress out. My question is this: Do they really even matter???

I have a 4.0 gpa, a 35 ACT, and a load of ECs ... but my essays aren't really imaginative or great ... just solid and well-written

So, I know some of you guys go to pretty selective colleges ... how were your essays? Great, average, poor?

I'm especially interested in Duke and Northwestern ... Do I have to write great essays ... or am I fine with ordinary, boring ones?
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  #2  
Old 11-26-2007, 12:28 AM
surftheiop surftheiop is offline
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Default Re: Do College Admissions Essays really matter?

write great essays and you still might not get into northwestern
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  #3  
Old 11-26-2007, 01:26 AM
EvilSteve EvilSteve is offline
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Default Re: Do College Admissions Essays really matter?

[ QUOTE ]

I have a 4.0 gpa, a 35 ACT, and a load of ECs ... but my essays aren't really imaginative or great ... just solid and well-written

[/ QUOTE ]
I think "imaginative" and "great" are not things you should even be shooting for. You're not trying to create a brilliant work of art here. Solid and absolutely conventional and very difficult for anybody to pick apart or criticize in any way would seem ideal. Sounds like you'll do just fine.
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Old 11-26-2007, 01:39 AM
LetsHugItOut LetsHugItOut is offline
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Default Re: Do College Admissions Essays really matter?

Not a direct answer, but: You've put in a lot of work over the last four years to position yourself well for getting into college -- why not knock yourself out for the next month, write a couple of great essays, and feel as good as possible about your application?

Essays might not be the most important piece of an application, but they are important. And I disagree with the poster above -- "imaginative" and "great" ARE things you should be shooting for in your essays. Admissions officers aren't looking to pick apart or criticize your essays -- they're looking to get a sense of the student. The only two real objectives of admissions essays, IMO, are 1) to reveal something about the student and 2) to stand out.

If your essay topics are open-ended (like the common app was when I applied in 2005), a good route is to pick a quirky interest of yours and write about it. The quirkiness will stand out; that it's an interest will reveal something about you.
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Old 11-26-2007, 01:45 AM
Ganjasaurus Rex Ganjasaurus Rex is offline
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Default Re: Do College Admissions Essays really matter?

My college essay consisted of the following:

"I want to go to your school. If you reject my application, i'll be forced to go elsewhere. Do you really want to hurt my feelings like that?"

I got into every school i applied.

Of course, my GPA and SAT scores probably had a little something to do with it. [img]/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

Moral of the story? If you think you're borderline, then spend a lot of time on your essay?
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  #6  
Old 11-26-2007, 03:36 AM
lippy lippy is offline
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Default Re: Do College Admissions Essays really matter?

My advice;

You're worrying about it too much. You're obviously very smart and if you put forth a few hours, you will write something that is definitely acceptable, probably very good.
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  #7  
Old 11-26-2007, 11:05 AM
Wyman Wyman is offline
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Default Re: Do College Admissions Essays really matter?

Admissions essays matter a ton if you're a borderline admission. They also matter a ton if you're applying for scholarships.

1) Don't get too cocky. Remember that there are a lot more high schools than colleges, and a lot of kids who are the best in their class are going to be applying. If it's a school you can even remotely believe that you might not get into, spend serious time on your essay.

2) Your "load of ECs" should provide you with some fodder for your essay(s). Have you ever done volunteer work? My eagle scout project (and essay I wrote about it) got me a postcard from my admissions officer at Duke saying how impressed she was by my project, and 2 weeks later I get a letter saying I was one of Duke's top 50 applicants and inviting me down there to interview for a full scholarship (this is a solid brag, but I didn't end up getting the scholarship, and I went elsewhere). The moral of this story is that although I'm not a great writer, the content of my essay helped me get an opportunity for some serious money (obv my resume didn't hurt).

3) As a senior, I was on the committee for the scholarship I had. As such, I read a ton of essays/applications for the scholarship. The poster above hit the nail on the head. When reading your essay, we want to learn something about you, and you want to stand out. You want me to think "Yeah, this kid would make a great addition to our community. We'd be proud to have him/her as one of our alumni."

GR is probably right. If your grades and everything are solid, you'll probably get in somewhere. But times are changing. With grade inflation running rampant, in addition to good grades, colleges are looking for well-rounded people who will bring something unique to the school. Your essay(s) should convince them that you're it.

Where are you applying, btw?
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  #8  
Old 11-26-2007, 05:00 PM
ohioguy218 ohioguy218 is offline
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Default Re: Do College Admissions Essays really matter?

Duke, Northwestern, Vandy, Yale, UVA, Emory, and a few less selective schools
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  #9  
Old 11-26-2007, 06:13 PM
chisness chisness is offline
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Default Re: Do College Admissions Essays really matter?

[ QUOTE ]
write great essays and you still might not get into northwestern

[/ QUOTE ]

I go to Northwestern and at least from my high school anyone with those stats was auto-in. My essays were definitely pretty mediocre. NU has a very high admit rate.

You'll need very good essays to get into HYPS, MC, and you're probably not auto in at some of the lower ivies either. You can probably get into anywhere NU or "worse" without anything too great though.
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  #10  
Old 11-26-2007, 06:18 PM
Wyman Wyman is offline
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Default Re: Do College Admissions Essays really matter?

Yale, Duke, and UVA are tougher to get into than the others.

Focus on those essays and try to use them for the other schools if possible. Get an English teacher (creative writing if you have one) or two to critique your essay before you submit.

It's understandable to get a case of "senioritis", but that should wait until after admissions. And you should expect to get over it real quick when next fall rolls around -- that is, of course, if you care what you get in college.

Best of luck, OP.
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