What’s the Point?

By Ryan Hickey + updated on August 20th, 2010

Is it Friday already? Wow.

Over the course of this week, we’ve provided a brand new blog post every single day dealing with a variety of topics relevant to those writing – or preparing to write – admissions essays. We’ve talked about planning ahead, content and style, avoiding repetition, and using humor. And over the last year, we’ve featured posts on many more admissions-related issues.

But what’s the point?

I’m not asking this in a grand, existential sense. Instead, I’m asking why your’e writing an essay or essays in the first place.

Well, at a basic level, you’re applying somewhere and it’s required as part of the application. But what about digging deeper?

I’d suggest that more than anything else, the point of your admissions essay is to show that you are a real person. Your essay transforms a collection of grades, scores, and biographical information into something much more personal. It’s a chance for you to speak to the reader, even without actually meeting him or her. And it’s a chance for you to be yourself.

That’s why questions like, “What do they want to hear?” or “What should I say?” aren’t the right ones to be asking. You should never attempt to write an essay by basing it on what you think someone else wants to hear. Doing so defeats the most important purpose of the essay. If you try to be anyone other than yourself, you’re ultimately doing everyone involved in this process a disservice.

Think about it.

First of all, your essay is just one part of your application. If you write an essay that attempts to make you seem like someone you’re not, it’s likely that it will clash with some other aspects of your application. Such discrepancies are quickly noticed by readers, and will usually hurt your candidacy.

Secondly, if you have to make yourself seem like someone you’re not, are you really applying to a school or program that’s a good fit? If you don’t feel that you can earn admission by being yourself, maybe you should rethink applying in the first place. Applications aren’t only used to determine whether you’re qualified for admission; they also help admissions committees determine whether you’d be a good fit at their institution.

And finally, essays that are written with a clear personal touch are almost always more effective than those that lack that personal touch, or those that seem like they aren’t being honest. Simple as that.

If those reasons aren’t enough for you to recognize the importance of that personal touch in your admissions essay, I don’t know what will be. For now, I’m going to get this post up, finish my work for the day, and get out to enjoy some summer weather this weekend. I hope you can do the same.

Share this post:
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Ping.fm
  • RSS
  • Yahoo! Buzz
The following two tabs change content below.

Ryan Hickey

Ryan Hickey is Managing Editor of Peterson's & EssayEdge and an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants. He enjoys sharing his knowledge to aid others in achieving their educational goals and, when he gets a break, loves hiking and fly fishing with his wife and two border-collie mixes.

Latest posts by Ryan Hickey (see all)

Leave a Reply