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 Furda
Dean of Admissions University of Pennsylvania

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

Here is my video response to the question.

Roby Blust
Dean of Admissions & Enrollment Planning Marquette University

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

Here is my video response to the question.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions 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.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational 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 Milne
Owner Milne 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.

Patricia Aviezer
President Inside 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.

Barak Rosenbloom
College 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 Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener 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.

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.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless 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.