In a way that sounds silly, of course, but he makes an important point. Richard, speaking on his David Richard's Admission video blog, stresses that you need something to set yourself apart, something that grabs the attention of an admissions counselor.
"A lot of students write essays that are boring and are way too conservative," he says. "It could be the perfect essay, but if it's not exciting, if it's not readable . . . just think how you would respond from reading that essay. Would you be engaged? No."
Watch the video here:
Just like David Letterman, Allen Grove has a Top Ten list.
Writing on his College Admissions blog on About.com, Grove provides not only an insightful list of the Top Ten style mistakes students make in their college essays, he follows each with helpful examples. Here's a glimpse at his list (with my italics for his highlights)
- Wordiness and repetition: I have to admit that theater did not come naturally to me, and I remember that I felt remarkably self conscious and nervous the first few times I set foot on the state.
- Clichés: My brother is one in a million. If given a responsibility, he never falls asleep at the wheel.
- Overuse of flowery language: The game was spectacularly wonderful. I didn't score the defining goal, but I did manage dexterously to pass the ball to my amazingly talented teammate, who adroitly kicked it between the goalie's desperately reaching fingers and the rigid frame of the right-hand corner of the goal.
"A great essay takes you from being just another kid among many with great qualifications and moves you to an applicant an admissions officer will lobby for."
That's the opinion of Kevin McMullen, founder and head of counseling at Collegewise, a division of The Princeton Review. Writing on the Collegewise blog, McMullin argues that college essays do matter, but how much depends on both the school and the student.
If your application speaks for itself and the admissions officer envisions you on campus -- and there's room -- then your essay is less important. But the more selective college, the more qualified applicants there are in the poll, McMullin says, and "admissions officers have to make distinctions about students that go beyond those qualities listed on an application."
"Essays rarely change an admissions officer’s mind if your qualifications aren’t up to the college’s standards," he writes. "When essays do sway the vote in those cases, it’s usually because they reveal a significant hardship or other life circumstance that explains the inconsistencies."
Arnie Rosenberg is the founder of The Center for Essay Excellence. He writes regularly about college essays and their importance to the college-admission process. Contact him at Arnie.Rosenberg.Editor@gmail.com.
© 2014 The Center for Essay Excellence