The college essay is by far one of the best tools available within the application process to allow your student to significantly stand out from the competition. The reason why this is the case is because what admissions officers are looking for in the essay is information about the student’s character that cannot be captured in other parts of application. In other words, how well the student understands themselves and the clarity through which they can communicate that understanding. The essay section is more of a thought test than it is a writing test. The goal of course being one simple thing: to persuade your audience to accept the student into their college. Where most students fail in the essay writing process is focusing too heavily on writing to impress their audience instead of writing to persuade their audience. Got that?
I remember when I first began public speaking I use to believe that the best way to speak to an audience was loading them up on intelligent sounding facts and figures. I would always try to impress my audience with an extensive array of information in order to show them that I was qualified to be a public speaker. This always resulted in audience members passively listening and usually losing interest after being overwhelmed by too much unnecessary information. It wasn’t until I read a book by a man named Jonathan Sprinkles that I finally learned about the importance of emotionally connecting to an audience when I finally learned how to persuade my audience and get them to take action.
• Having a unique theme
• Eliciting powerful emotions
• Being specific in its examples
• Personal to the student
• Well organized and clear
I will warn you however of focusing too much on trying to make the college essay creative. It is far more intelligent to focus on making the essay actually sellable to the admissions office as opposed to being simply creative in nature. A good example of what I mean by this is when the Greek statesmen Aeschines spoke, his country said, "How well he speaks." But when his opponent Demosthenes spoke, they said "Let us march against Philip." The lesson being that it doesn’t matter how creative your student’s essay is if the college doesn’t actually doing anything because of it.