The “Perfect” College Essay and Is There Such A Thing?

Some students have a difficult time starting their college essays. Perhaps, it is a challenge selecting topics or a feeling that their essays must be perfect. The words “perfect essay” are engraved all over the media and Internet. No wonder this task can be intimidating.Once students let go of the idea that their essays must be perfect, ideas flow easier and great stories can be told. Too often, students are inundated with articles about writing the perfect essay, filling out the perfect college application and aspiring to perfect test scores. This, for the most part, is unrealistic and can even hinder creativity. Why is it that colleges such as MIT ask students to discuss a time they failed or Yale asking students how they would like to improve? Perfection is not a requirement and it is from our errors along the way that we grow and learn.

So, dispel the thought of the perfect college essay and begin writing. The goal in college essays is for admission officers to gain insight and learn new information about students that they cannot find elsewhere on the application. Students have unique stories that distinguish them from other applicants. These stories can often times be mundane daily occurrences that don’t demand traveling to other parts of the world. Slice of life stories can be so compelling! Writing about an experience, mentor or accomplishment is valid but students should also include how they were affected by their experiences personally. Including emotional aspects of experiences is a good idea as revealing character traits is something colleges like to see. Admission officers have been known to state that the most difficult thing for them to measure on applications is a student’s character. If a student writes about a person of influence, it is essential that the majority of the essay is about the student who is writing. How does the student emulate admired qualities? Students need to make sure admission officers learn about the individuality the applicant possesses and how they can fit into their campus community.

The college essay should not be an obstacle, but viewed as an opportunity to reveal who you are. Your character and personality should come through in your writing. View this process as an opportunity to be self-reflective. Get over the idea of the perfect college essay. Tell your story in a friendly, conversational, informative manner showing the college why you are a good fit.