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?

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.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic 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.

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.

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.

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.

Kristina Dooley
Independent Educational Consultant Estrela 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.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton 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.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational 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.