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Elements of a Winning Essay & Application

One Student’s Opinion*

Applicants often imagine that they need a checklist of sorts to fill out to sound good to the universities. I need: one sport, one leadership activity, a community service project, after-school clubs and so on. Although this system has merit and is a very practical and often advised method, it lacks a differentiating concept. More than being well rounded, or great at a few things, what makes the difference is having a story.

The story does not need to be about tragedy or overcoming tremendous adversity. In fact, you probably have the makings of a great story without even realizing it. It can be a philosophy on how you view yourself and your life, it can be an interest that may or may not have developed into a passion. The truth of the matter is that even if you are less impressive than some of the other candidates in terms of any or all quantifiable categories, there is a human element to the process. The admissions committee wants people who they feel like they know; candidates that have Provided insights into who they are. This kind of openness and candor can go a long way to overcome other shortcomings.

Wrapping your interests and activities into an interwoven story about you is the best sort of college essay. Tons of people are on student council and varsity teams, but that doesn’t always translate into a story on paper about a candidate who is going to thrive and contribute in a university setting. A story is what sells, and you are selling yourself to the reader.

* Author was admitted to several “most competitive” colleges and universities.
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