College Essay tips

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College Essay tips

Story by Ignacio Rodriguez, Business Manager

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Seniors, seniors, seniors, and ambitious juniors, crunch time is upon us. In addition to filling out applications in the college search, a college (aka personal) essay is also required. A college essay is not just an essay, it is a chance a student gets to separate themselves from the thousands of students also applying; A chance to express one’s identity.

It is important to first understand the purpose of the college application essay. A students transcripts, as well as their academic and extracurricular achievements, do not give any unique insight into the student as a person. Yes, show hard work, drive, aptitude, etc. However, these are the same things reflected in the other tens of thousands of applicants applying to the same institution. Although Dad says, “No one is as perfect as my daughter,” but in the application arena, everyone is whittled down to just a resume and a transcript.

Quick reality check. For the class of 2018, UF had over 39,000 applicants and 6,400 were accepted. Only 100 of those students were from Boca High. FSU had 41,411 applicants and only 6,500 were accepted. The University of Miami had 34,000 applicants and 3,200 were accepted. M.I.T had 18,357 applicants, and a whopping seven percent, 1,419 applicants, were accepted. Harvard turned down 500 students with 1600 on the SAT and…. 1,100 students were turned down with 800 on SAT Math Component.

But don’t let this bring you down. Simply put, essays help the admissions office evaluate your potential to fit into their school’s community and culture as a person. (Not as a student….not as club president….not as the driving force for raising money with a dance-a-thon or relay-for-life team and not as a swimmer who placed first in his county). Once again the 30,000 other students, many of whom were driven to get 2400 on their SAT were also club presidents and competitors who gave their time to charity work, if not a kidney.

Just remember, your parents aren’t the only ones with a bumper sticker that reads, “My child is an Honor Student” or “NSHSS.”

Do not fear though, it is not all dark and gloomy. Mistakes in one’s college essay[s] can be snipped. One mistake is writing about academic accomplishments. Academic accomplishments do not tell the school anything about the student as a PERSON or as an INDIVIDUAL. It is no different from stating the obvious “I am smart.”  Remember the phrase “Birds of a feather flock together.” Everyone applying to the same institutions will more likely than not have around the same if not identical academic accomplishments. These accomplishments are on the official transcript you send over, the admissions officers are already aware of what a great student the applicant is.

A second mistake that is often committed is trying too hard to appear intellectual. Remember that admissions officers are aware that it is usually a teen applicant, so using words like, “plethora” or “myriad” continuously is only going to bore the reader. There are going to be plenty of essays on the market that put the readers to sleep. Although this is not saying that an essay that sounds like a monologue is what admissions want, it is saying throw some spice into the writing. A student can write about something as boring as walking the dog, but if it is captivating, has personality, and is unique in perspective it is really going to ‘hook’ the reader.

“Here at Boca High, we have an incredible amount of immigrants and foreigners who are going to use their own moving to America story as their college essay. What sets one apart from the other is how it’s told, how it catches the reader with the person’s own twists,” said Ms. Tina Garofalo an English teacher and advisor from our College and Career Center.

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