Although admissions essays are commonly referred to as “advertisements” and “brochures”, this view of the admission essay isn’t quite accurate. Your admission essay is actually less of a sales pitch and more of an introduction. However, it is not an introduction to you socially, but an announcement of your intentions and desire to both excel in and contribute to a school’s program. Ideally, your admission essay will pique the interest of the admissions committee to learn more about you and your potential.
Unfortunately, you won’t get to be in the room when your application is evaluated. Many applicants will have the same or very similar backgrounds, accomplishments, and standardized test scores. For this reason, your admission essay acts as your representative. It is an invaluable opportunity to provide context for your application.
Test scores and lists of achievements are valuable tools, but only tell so much. And with programs receiving increasing numbers of applications from people who exceed or even greatly exceed their minimum requirements, the admissions essay has become the focus of the selection process. While it can seem overwhelming or even nerve-wracking, taking the time to craft an excellent admissions essay is more important than ever.
Fortunately, the admission essay is the part of the application over which you have the most control. It is your chance to persuade the admissions committee to see you as you wish to be seen. This is not to say that you should ever misrepresent yourself within the admissions essay or attempt to mislead the admissions officers. These are sophisticated people, and they’ve seen it all.
However, admissions officers are looking to you for guidance as to what you find most meaningful about your experiences and accomplishments to date. Also, test scores and resumes cannot tell them about your aspirations and vision. Do you want to help rid the world of poverty? Help advance our understanding of motivation in the workplace? What role do you see yourself having? What difference do you see yourself making?
Whether you want the admissions committee to look beyond your achievements or look more deeply at certain accomplishments, the admission essay is the aspect of your application package where you get to demonstrate who you are as an individual and why the school would benefit from having you as part of their program.