How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

Application Process

Our Counselors Answered:

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

Eric FurdaDean of AdmissionsUniversity of Pennsylvania

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

Here is my video response to the question.

Roby BlustDean of Admissions & Enrollment PlanningMarquette University

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

Here is my video response to the question.

Kristina DooleyIndependent Educational ConsultantEstrela Consulting

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

The college essay doesn’t necessarily need to “tie in” to the rest of your application. That being said, you should be cognizant that what you write in your essay doesn’t conflict with other information you’ve provided in your application. For example, if you write your essay about how much you enjoy community service work but you have no community service involvement on your list of extracurricular activities, the person reading your application may wonder why. One piece of advice would be to use the essay as a place to further elaborate on any part of your application that you feel needs to be explained, such as a really cool travel experience or a drop in your grades.

Susan Knoppow

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

The essay is a big part of your application, and you should plan on spending time on it. The essay is your opportunity to show the admissions committee something genuine about you that is not obvious anywhere in the rest of your application. Remember, colleges want to know who you are and how you got to this place. They want to know how you will fit in at their school. Follow a process of discovery to find your story. What do you want colleges to know about you? Find a story to illustrate that point, and make sure you tell them why it matters, why they should care. Many kids sound the same with good grades, test scores and leadership skills. The essay is the place to stand out. You can do that with a story about you that is focused, reflective and answers the prompt. Write it yourself; use your words and your voice.

Pam Ohriner

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

Think about the college essay as an interview in essay format. The essay should say, I am a good fit for this college. The essay is a student’s chance to tell who they really are in their own voice. It should reveal something about the applicant that is not in the application. It can zero in on a single experience or moment in time that changed the applicant or be about something broader and the influence it has on the student. The essay should show self-reflection, critical thinking, and your ability to organize your thoughts. The first paragraph is the most important. It should grab the reader’s attention and draw them in. Writing in a conversational tone is engaging. Spend time brainstorming topics and writing a number of drafts. You may even change your topic more than once as you figure out what works. Starting with an outline makes the writing process easier. Remember to proof read more than once and have at least one or two additional sets of eyes look it over.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

For some students the essay is a great opportunity to explain a discrepancy or a negative in grades or test scores. Remember — the admissions committee doesn’t want to hear excuses for poor grades but they might appreciate some explanations. You don’t need to write about a particular extracurricular activity or academic achievement unless you feel that it has some special relevance in your personal development. Remember — the admissions committee already has your application so you don’t need to rehash that information. While your essay needn’t refer specifically to your application, it should “make sense” with your application. By that we mean that if you have poor grades in English or low test scores on the SAT verbal section, it might be a bit suspicious if you submit a spectacularly written and polished essay.

Suzan ReznickIndependent Educational ConsultantThe College Connection

Who Are You??

Your entire application should present a cohesive sense of who you are. There is the activities chart- which needs to be carefully thought out and filled in. Then you have the two essays – the 150 word extra-curricular essay and the personal statement. The longer essay should NOT be laundry list of your accomplishments, but present new information, that is not already on your application. Your topic should support “who” you are- the accomplished actor/artist/ or pre-med hopeful. It is your chance to give your application that ‘third” dimension and allow your “voice” and personality to come through.

Bill PrudenHead of Upper School, College CounselorRavenscroft School

Give Them A Complete Picture—Let Them Tie Things Together

Must the essay tie into the rest of the application? No. More important is that you take advantage of the opportunity the essay provides to present yourself in your words, in your way. Be sure to respond to the prompt, but do so in a way that gives the reader a greater understanding of who you are and what you will bring to the community they are seeking to create. Make it your story. The people in the admissions office are trying to learn about you and the essay is often the last chance you have to shape their impression and understanding of you. Making it do that is far more important that having it tie together what may be a wide ranging package—you.

Corey FischerPresidentCollegeClarity

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

It can tie in very closely or somewhat loosely, but it should make sense with the rest of your application. If you write about something that is contradictory to other parts of your application, that will raise concerns as to the veracity of your essay. That said, you do not want to reiterate what has already been said in other parts of your application because you are then wasting an opportunity to tell the admission committee something new and interesting about yourself.

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton College Consulting, LLC

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

Essays should not reiterate a lot of information that can be found elsewhere in the application. They should add to the complexity of the stereotype of the applicant by illustrating a genuine and unique voice that is thoughtful and engaging.

Barak RosenbloomCollege essay mentor, guide and editor essaymentors.com

Your essay makes you a person

Your grades, test scores, and lists of accomplishments don’t say much about who you are, what you believe, what you think or how you fit in with your community. Your interview (if you do one), recommendations and essay turn the raw data into a living, breathing person. The more selective the college, the more important this becomes. I recently helped a student with his essay, which focused on a powerful experience he had as a camp counselor. His English teacher had him weave in how he was student council president, and was on the crew team…and it made him sound like an everyday overachiever out for fame and glory. I wouldn’t have accepted him no matter how good his grades were. Even though it was his essay, in his words, it didn’t show who he really was. His heartfelt first draft had been brutalized by a teacher who didn’t understand that this isn’t a sales pitch. The final essay showed, through his struggles, how thoughtful, caring, dedicated and tenacious he really is. It showed that he’s a great guy, who would be a great member of a college community. And it gave a context for his resume and activities. Your essay is your chance to show the college who you are as a human being. Without it, you’re just a page of data.

Barak RosenbloomCollege essay mentor, guide and editor essaymentors.com

Your essay makes you a person

Your grades, test scores, and lists of accomplishments don’t say much about who you are, what you believe, what you think or how you fit in with your community. Your interview (if you do one), recommendations and essay turn the raw data into a living, breathing person. The more selective the college, the more important this becomes. I recently helped a student with his essay, which focused on a powerful experience he had as a camp counselor. His English teacher had him weave in how he was student organization president, was on a sports team…it made him sound like an everyday overachiever out for fame and glory. (Kind of a jerk, to be honest.) I wouldn’t have accepted him no matter how good his grades were. Even though it was his essay, in his words, it didn’t show who he really was. His heartfelt first draft had been brutalized by a teacher who didn’t understand that this isn’t a sales pitch. The final essay showed, through his struggles, how thoughtful, caring, dedicated and tenacious he really is. It showed that he’s a nice guy, who would be a fantastic member of a college community. And it gave a background for his resume and activities. Your essay is your chance to show the college who you are as a human being. Without it, you’re just a page of data.

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

consistant and unique

you may use the essay to bring out the best part of your application. common mistakes including over stating facts that already confirmed by letter of recommendations.

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

consistant and unique

you may use the essay to bring out the best part of your application. common mistakes including over stating facts that already confirmed by letter of recommendations.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

College Essay Related to the Rest of the Application

College essays should not be a mere repetition of what already appears in other parts of the application. In fact, that would be a waste of time, space, and opportunity. The essay should reveal other aspects of the student’s personality and interests or go into more depth about particularly meaningful experiences that may or may not have been alluded to in other parts of the application. For instance, if an extracurricular activity, a job, a volunteer experience has been listed on the application form, and it has been a very important and pivotal experience in the student’s development, it would be worthwhile to go into more detail within the essay about that activity, its value, and its impact on the student. It is important to consider how one can make oneself stand out in a positive way among the other many qualified applicants.

Laura O’Brien GatzionisFounderEducational Advisory Services

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

The extracurricular short answer should be related to one of your top activities. The main essay is usually flexible. If you are very passionate about a particular academic area then it would be a great idea to write about an important aspect or inspiration related to your enthusiasm for the subject. However, you can also use the essay to display another aspect of your interests or personality. The most important point is to use this chance to give vibrancy to that admission file filled with statistics–GPA, test scores and recitations of activities and academic achievements.

Nancy MilneOwnerMilne Collegiate Consulting

The Essay’s Role

The college essay is there to give you a chance to share something about yourself, that didn’t have a place in the rest of the application. Thus, the essay doesn’t have to tie in to everything else you’ve listed. Maybe you’ll share how you like to decorate cookies at the holidays, or how your dog makes you smile. There is no “right” topic, only a better way to convey your thoughts. Do NOT worry if you haven’t traveled to Africa to feed the starving or discovered a new strain of bacteria, that may be why you are going to college. Just be yourself and share a piece of you that demonstrates your human-ness.

Mollie ReznickAssociate DirectorThe College Connection

Write about what you love

Your college essay should hopefully serve to further emphasize your passion or skills as represented on your application. For instance, if your application states that you have been actively involved in theatre during your four years in high school and that is what you love most, your essay should reflect that. Take the opportunity to delve even deeper into *why* you love what it is you do, what sparked that interest and how it developed, and perhaps how it drives your future goals. This will guide an admissions officer’s perspective of you as someone who is passionate and motivated.

Patricia AviezerPresidentInside Track To College, Inc.

Tie It Up In A Neat Product

Especially with large colleges, we’ve all heard about the fact that the essay may be the only way to communicate your uniqueness, or draw more attention to an important aspect about who you are and what you’ve done. Try not to be redundant in any part of your application, you have so little opportunity to highlight all of your talents. Make sure each section of the application presents a “fresh” perspective. However, if there is a particular item that you’ve stated on your resume or in your activities list that you want delve into more deeply because it will work possitively for you and tell your story in an enhanced and effective manner, use it in your essay.

Carita Del ValleFounderAcademic Decisions

Theme – that’s what it is all about

Any application essay should reflect the theme an admissions officer would see throughout the students file.

Sarah ContomichalosManagerEducational Advisory Services, LLC

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

The college essay should not be a complete surprise in terms of the rest of the application. It should tie into the student’s academic and or extra curricular interests and also show his or her thought process.

Barak RosenbloomCollege essay mentor, guide and editor essaymentors.com

Your essay makes you a whole person

Your grades, test scores, and lists of accomplishments don’t say much about who you are, what you believe, what you think or how you fit in with your community. Your interview (if you do one), recommendations and essay turn the raw data into a living, breathing person. The more selective the college, the more important this becomes. I recently helped a student with his essay, which focused on a powerful experience he had as a camp counselor. His English teacher had him weave in how he was student organization president, was on a sports team…it made him sound like an everyday overachiever out for fame and glory. (Kind of a jerk, to be honest.) I wouldn’t have accepted him no matter how good his grades were. Even though it was his essay, in his words, it didn’t show who he really was. His heartfelt first draft had been brutalized by a teacher who didn’t understand that this isn’t a sales pitch. The final essay showed, through his struggles, how thoughtful, caring, dedicated and tenacious he really is. It showed that he’s a nice guy, who would be a fantastic member of a college community. And it gave a background for his resume and activities. Your essay is your chance to show the college who you are as a human being. Without it, you’re just a page of data.

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

The college essay shouldn’t be a regurgitation of what’s on your application. New information needs to be introduced to reinforce your candidacy. The essay is your opportunity to show the admissions committee that you are a great catch. It is the qualitative piece to the application. It is the reasoning behind the quantitative measures of a GPA and SAT scores.

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

The college essay shouldn’t be a regurgitation of what’s on your application. New information needs to be introduced to reinforce your candidacy. The essay is your opportunity to show the admissions committee that you are a great catch. It is the qualitative piece to the application. It is the reasoning behind the quantitative measures of a GPA and SAT scores.

Zahir RobbCollege CounselorThe Right Fit College

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

The essay can tie into the rest of the application by explaining some of the “data” present in the rest of the application. For example, why you changed schools, or the reason your grades dropped. However, only do so if the reason is compelling. Also, in some ways you can go into more detail about your extracurricular activities or other accomplishments. Remember that the essay also provides you with a chance to include information not present in the rest of the application, so don’t just repeat the same information over again.

Rebecca JosephExecutive Director & Foundergetmetocollege.org

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

The college essay should complement the rest of the application. It should not repeat what is clearly present in other parts. It should provide a great opportunity for the reader to see the applicant as a living, breathing student who will make a great contribution to the college if admitted. It should connect to who you really are and help the admissions officers see you in real life. That’s why the best college essays help complete a great application.

Rebecca JosephExecutive Director & Foundergetmetocollege.org

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

The college essay should complement the rest of the application. It should not repeat what is clearly present in other parts. It should provide a great opportunity for the reader to see the applicant as a living, breathing student who will make a great contribution to the college if admitted. It should connect to who you really are and help the admissions officers see you in real life. That’s why the best college essays help complete a great application.If necessary, this essay can truly help the admissions officer understand some deeply personal issues. I recommend that you think deeply about how this essay will strengthen your application without ever making anyone worry about you.

Mary Mariani

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

The essay should not be a repeat of anything that is already in the rest of the application. You don’t want to bore the reader with information that is already there. Plus you are wasting a valuable opportunity to be creative and really say something about yourself that the rest of the application does not address. Usually the college will give you some guidance with the essay, presenting you with some questions or a quote to inspire you. Think about the essay, write down some ideas, talk to your parents, teachers and friends about the topic, and sleep on it before you start. Give yourself some time to organize and be creative. Make sure you have some one read the essay before it is turned in. You might miss some errors. Another thing you might try is reading the essay out loud to yourself and then to friends or family. See how they react to what you have written. Ask for honest critique of what you have presented. Then go back and build on the information they gave you.

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

Depending on what the essay’s about, it could, but doesn’t necessarily have to.

Judy Oberlander

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

Your application should reflect who you are. The person who reads it should gain a good idea of what kind of person/student you are by the types of information you provide. Socioeconomic, geographic, demographic, and testing information form a picture of you. Your list of extracurricular activities and employment history tells how you spend your time. The essay is the icing on the cake. This is your chance to emphasize what is important to you and to provide examples that illustrate/validate the information you have given. The reader should be prepared for the essay by the information you have given. For example, if you indicate that you are interested in engineering, an essay about some project that you have undertaken would validate your interest and show a tangible example of what you have done. If you are from a low socioeconomic background/community,you might choose to write an essay about how you have worked to excel in spite of your challenges, giving concrete examples of what you have done.

Janet Elfers

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

It takes advanced planning, so consult with your high school counselor or one of the Unigo counselors (such as me!). You should do a thorough evaluation of your high school record and accomplishments, then look carefully at the application for admission and plan where and how you will communicate your strengths and qualifications and experiences. The essay will surely be a major part of the planning. You’ll also use your list of experiences, the short answer questions, your letters of recommendation, and of course your transcript to tell the college everything about you. You’ll want to prioritize information about yourself, emphasizing your best qualities. The essay is a key component to the total plan, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

Heather TomaselloWriting CoachThe EssayLady, LLC

How should the college essay tie into the rest of the application?

I tell the students I work with as a college essay writing coach (www.EssayLady.com) that it is very important to “connect the dots.” Your essay and the other parts of your application must create one seamless picture for the admissions officer. For example, if you write an essay about your dream of becoming a doctor, does the rest of your application support this? Does your transcript reflect advanced math and science courses with high grades? Does your resume show that you’ve volunteered or had an internship at a hospital? All of the parts of your application should work in harmony- discrepancies will raise red flags for the admissions officers.

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