It is time to write your college admissions essays. You have spent some time thinking about your main essay; the one that will tell an admissions team your story, and give them a sense of your character and interests. But then you realize there is more than just one essay about yourself. You find that most schools like to ask for an explanation of why you are interested in attending their school. Were you thinking about that essay when you began narrowing down your list of schools to which you were going to apply? If not, you have to do some quick thinking. The first admissions essay you write should be your reason for choosing that school in particular; we’ll tell you why.
Here’s the deal: it’s a two way street in admissions
Guess what? There is not a one-size-fits-all model for selecting the best and brightest students for college admission. Some schools value certain factors more highly than others. For example, some schools put stock in a student’s volunteer work, while others more strictly focus on a student’s GPA.
With that in mind, we can shift our priorities toward what we want for the student. When trying to choose which schools to apply to, first think about what activities are most meaningful to you. For example:
- Do you like to perform in the school play?
- Have you enjoyed leading community service activities in your school?
- Do you love competing in robotics competitions?
Keep in mind, when we discuss meaning, this does not necessarily mean thinking about the activities that you spend the most time conducting. You could be a great athlete, but you find performing in the church choir a more rewarding opportunity. In that case, you may be better off looking at schools that value a student’s religious commitment.
Ideally, what you find most meaningful can also be what a college weighs more heavily among admissions factors. This is what we call a “best fit school.”
How do I understand their factors?
Some of the college admissions factors are straightforward, such as your GPA and standardized test scores. Other factors are more subjective and may be considered more significant to certain schools. Those might include volunteer work, work experience, or talent. This sort of approach does not work for all types of activities, but for some types, they are considered “separate” admissions factors.
How it applies to you…
- If you find community service to be one of your more meaningful pursuits, you may want to consider applying to colleges that also value volunteer work more heavily in the admissions process.
- Maybe you have found that your work experience has taught you something about what you want to pursue in your studies during college; you might want to look at applying to schools that value an applicant’s work history.
- If your gift for playing the violin is also your passion, you might want to scroll through colleges that prioritize talent and ability in an applicant’s profile.
These considerations could help you narrow down your list of potential applications. And so when it’s time to write, you have a head start on that “Why are you interested in this school?” question. When this is the first admissions essay you write, the rest will fall into place.