There is no formula in college admissions, and for that reason it can be easy to pick and chose what ideals we think schools most value. We dream up myths behind seemingly “perfect” applications, but the truth is that no Top 50 admitted student harbors every quality these rumors praise. Nonetheless– we’ve all been guilty of thinking these thoughts and feeding the proverbial beast. So let’s explore what some call the biggest myth in college admissions, the data behind it, and the truth.
“I need a major life changing event or passion to set my application apart.”
I call this the “personal statement crisis,” and I find it is the most common college admissions myth. Students think they need an incredibly specific life crisis or dream/passion to write about for the personal statement portion of the Common App/ other applications and supplements. Oftentimes these applicants will compensate by trying to cover everything they’re involved in, in one essay, and it makes them appear unfocused and over committed. This is a major red flag to admissions officers.
A majority of Top 50 Admitted students will tell you– they didn’t all have a quirky singular interest or life altering crisis. So what did they write about? Something they love, something that changed the way they think or see the world. It can be a minuscule moment or an impactful school involvement; it doesn’t really matter what it is, but rather what it means to you. At its very core, the application is about presenting your most authentic self. It takes thought, theme, and vision, but that doesn’t mean you need only ONE dream, passion, or phenomenal life experience. In fact, on a scale of 1-4 with 1 being of LEAST important value, Harvard University gave Admissions Essays a “1” in terms of importance. The essay does not determine your fate; readers are looking for more than that.
You need to build your story, using the life experience and insight you already have. The magic of admission is crafting something seemingly ordinary into an emotional story.
There are innumerable ways to get creative with your personal statement/supplements. Check out this article to learn more about boosting your impact with extracurriculars, and for more info visit www.empowerly.com to learn about how we can maximize your college chances in college admissions.