College Essay Help

When you get ready to apply for colleges you have to fill out these pesky little things called applications. As one of my students recently put it, “they are the most annoying things you will ever do.” But inevitably, standing between you and your dream college is this application process. Part of that process is the college essay. I might venture to say the essay is the most important part…

When you apply to a college, you must meet two basic standards to even be considered for admission:

  1. Requirements: GPA, course load, core classes, SAT/SAT II/ACT tests, class rank; there are others at various colleges and some of these things bare more significance at some schools more than others.
  2. Procedures: Application, test, and recommendation deadlines, interviews ets.

If you can meet the requirements for a school, and you turn in everything on time, then you are you way to being admitted. This may be all that is required in many state schools or smaller liberal arts colleges, but for demanding and very demanding universities you are nothing but a dime a dozen. No offense.

As an example of what I am talking about, consider Stanford University which had 32, 022 people apply to the university as first year applicants. 54% of those first year freshman had a 4.0 and higher in weighted GPA and 30% had a GPA of 3.7-3.99. Now, a special note, of those 32,022 applicants, only 7.3% of them were admitted. So you do the math, if 54% of those 30k applications have over a 4.0 and they only admit 7% of the applications, which applications are they going to be admitting?

Stanford may be a bit extreme, but contextualize for your particular school. You may be a highly gifted student, but join the club, you’re in good company. So with this light shed on the sheer statistics working against you, you have got to stand out somehow. Your have got to shine for the admissions board, how are you going to do that?

The Essay.

College Essays can be a challenge for some, and are easy for others. I just want to give you 3 easy rules you can follow when you sit down to start your application process.

  1. The essay must be about you– Sounds silly I know, but you might be surprised how many essays are all about the family dog, the best friend, the 6th grade Sacramento trip etc. This essay needs to be about you, your character, your insights, your worldview. When the essay asks you to examine a situation that deeply affected you, they want to see the depth of your analysis, the breadth of your experiences and how you have been shaped into a young adult.
  2. The essay MUST be interesting– Not just interesting to your mom, interesting to a person who reads thousands of essays professionally. Your opening paragraph needs to be catchy, draw me in with something witty, and exciting. The body needs to have depth and the real you needs to get out in this essay.
  3. The essay must have information not available on the application– The admissions board has a 5 page application for admission with everything from your grades to test scores to work experience and 2000 volunteer hours saving the whales in Antarctica. This essay shouldn’t be just another of the same, in needs to be another of a different kind. When you write about something, you want to give insight into you that cannot be gleaned from the application.

So you read these rules and just say, well duh! But transforming these concepts into reality is not as easy as you might think. I would love to offer my services to you if you are thinking about going to a four year college right after high school. Unfortunately, so many of my students come to me in their senior year (i.e. right now), which is fine, we aren’t too late; but it would be better if we started working on this Junior year or earlier.

Call me!


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About Nathan and Joanna Cornett

We are a from San Diego California, currently on a mission trip in Guatemala. Nathan has worked as a youth pastor, teen center director, college advisor, and now missionary. Joanna has worked at LaBahn's Landscape for 7 years in the field, sales, and as the Vice President, she started the Hispanic ministry at Foothills Church, and has worked in youth ministry, she is now working as a missionary. We are both passionate about youth, worship, and missions.

2 responses to “College Essay Help”

  1. Susie Watts says :

    As a college consultant, I think the more information kids have on writing their college essays, the better. Usually, once they stop procrastinating, they actually find the essay rather rewarding and revealing.

    Susie Watts
    Denver, Colorado

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  1. 4-Week College Admission Prep Course « College Life Planning - February 5, 2011

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