Sybil Low by Sybil Low

In a recent Reddit thread, college applicants and admissions experts came together to discuss the role of college essays in the admissions process. The conversation delves into the importance of storytelling, vulnerability, and authenticity in crafting an engaging, memorable essay.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Essays differentiate applicants by revealing personality and potential.
  • Effective essays combine self-awareness, originality, and engaging storytelling.
  • Thorough proofreading and editing ensure a polished, compelling essay.

Key Insights on the Role of Essays in College Admissions

As the discussion goes on, certain moments become clear. Unquestionably, high test scores and extracurriculars matter. But, an outstanding essay can be a deciding factor that can unlock the doors to a student’s dream college. In this article, we’ll explore the most upvoted comments and insights from this lively Reddit discussion.

“It’s usually the essays”

A highly upvoted comment in the thread argues that essays are, in fact, the determining factor for college admissions. The commenter reasons that once a student’s grades, test scores, and extracurriculars meet the minimum requirements, it’s the essay that sets them apart from the competition. In the sea of qualified candidates, a well-crafted, authentic essay has the power to sway admissions officers and leave a lasting impression.

The admissions officer’s perspective

Another insightful comment highlights the perspective of admissions officers. With thousands of applications to review, it’s the essays that give them a glimpse into the applicant’s personality, values, and passions. Essays serve as the humanizing element in the application process, providing a unique opportunity for students to share their stories and stand out from the crowd.

Essays as an equalizer

One commenter astutely points out that essays can be a great equalizer in the admissions process. Some students don’t have access to great extracurricular activities, amazing academic experiences, or fancy internships. 

Yet, everyone has a story to share. An outstanding essay can level the playing field, allowing a student to showcase their potential, resilience, and creativity, regardless of their background or resources.

The importance of self-awareness

According to another highly upvoted comment, self-awareness plays a crucial role in crafting a compelling essay. Students who can reflect on their experiences and demonstrate personal growth are more likely to impress admissions officers. A well-crafted essay showcases students’ self-awareness, reflects their authenticity, and portrays maturity. Therefore, an artfully written college admissions essay can be a real game-changer in the application process.

The pitfalls of “cookie-cutter” essays

One of the most popular comments in the thread cautions against submitting “cookie-cutter” essays. Admissions officers can quickly identify generic, uninspired essays that lack originality. To truly stand out, students should strive to showcase their individuality and voice in their essays, taking the reader on a memorable journey that sets them apart from other applicants.

The power of vulnerability

Another notable insight from the thread emphasizes the importance of vulnerability in college essays. Commenters shared how revealing personal struggles, overcoming adversity, or discussing meaningful experiences can make a significant impact on admissions officers. By being vulnerable and genuine, students can forge a connection with their readers, making their essays more memorable and effective.

Writing style matters

The thread also highlights the importance of writing style in college essays. Commenters stress that a well-structured, engaging essay can help an applicant stand out. By employing strong storytelling techniques, descriptive language, and a clear narrative arc, students can create an essay that not only showcases their personality but also demonstrates their writing prowess – a valuable skill in any college setting.

Avoiding common essay traps

In the same vein, commenters warn against falling into common essay traps. Topics like mission trips, sports victories, or clichéd volunteer experiences can come across as overused or insincere if not approached thoughtfully. Students should be mindful of their essay topics and strive for originality, while still staying true to their personal experiences and values.

The role of humor

Humor can be a double-edged sword in college essays, as pointed out by some commenters in the thread. While well-placed wit can make an essay engaging and memorable, poorly executed humor can backfire, leaving a negative impression on admissions officers. Students should be cautious when using humor in their essays, ensuring that it supports their overall narrative and doesn’t detract from the sincerity of their message.

Proofreading and editing

Finally, commenters in the thread underscore the importance of proofreading and editing. Even the most compelling essay can be undermined by poor grammar, spelling errors, or unclear phrasing. Not to get disheartened by the final result, students should thoroughly revise and polish their final drafts. This approach promises the best possible outcome.  

Wrap Up

Reddit users emphasize the importance of essays in college admissions, highlighting storytelling, vulnerability, and authenticity. Essays humanize applicants, act as equalizers, and showcase a student’s personality and experiences. Self-awareness, originality, writing style, and cautious humor are crucial components, while thorough proofreading and editing ensure a polished final submission.


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