Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

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Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

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

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

No one know the real answer to that question.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

It is my understanding that if essays are required by an institution, they are actually read. I hope this is the case! There are many different kinds of schools, however, so it would be impossible to know how each of them handles the essays which are submitted. I do know that some schools have a group of readers, each receiving one set of essays, with each individual essay being read by just one person. In other instances, each essay is distributed to several readers, who will then compare their impressions when the admissions committee meets to decide upon student admissions. In this instance, the essay would be read by several people. Again, the number of readers for each essay would depend on individual institutional practices. Many large schools don’t require essays at all because they don’t have the personnel resources to process the huge number of admission essays which would be submitted. Schools which require essays, however, use the essay input to form a more complete picture of the applicant, over and above the numbers, grades, lists, and so on, which are entered onto the application form. The essays may form the most deciding part of the application after the student has met basic application criteria – grades, standardized test scores, etc. If I were an applicant, I would consider the essay(s) very seriously, making every effort to create an interesting and well-formulated document, with the assumption that the essay would be read and considered by each institution to which I applied.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

It is my understanding that if essays are required by an institution, they are actually read. I hope this is the case! There are many different kinds of schools, however, so it would be impossible to know how each of them handles the essays which are submitted. I do know that some schools have a group of readers, each receiving one set of essays, with each individual essay being read by just one person. In other instances, each essay is distributed to several readers, who will then compare their impressions when the admissions committee meets to decide upon student admissions. In this instance, the essay would be read by several people. Again, the number of readers for each essay would depend upon individual institutional practices. Many large schools don’t require essays at all because they don’t have the personnel resources to process the huge number of admission essays which would be submitted. Schools which require essays, however, use the essay input to form a more complete picture of the applicant, over and above the numbers, grades, lists, and so on, which are entered onto the application form. The essays may form the most deciding part of the application after the student has met basic application criteria – grades, standardized test scores, etc. If I were an applicant, I would consider the essay(s) very seriously, making every effort to create an interesting and well-formulated document, with the assumption that the essay would be read and considered by each institution to which I applied.

Angela ConleyCollege Admission ExpertVentureForth

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

Based on my experience, we read every essay at the institutions were I served. Typically, applications received two reads and a third if the decisions were split. The number of reads and the process for reviewing application essays vary from college to college. Among the top 250, I know my colleagues review essays because some are moved to “check” authenticity or to contact the school source to verify veracity of the context as provided by the student.

Randi HeathmanIndependent Educational ConsultantThe Equestrian College Advisor LLC

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

I’m going to be honest here: I didn’t read the entirety of every essay that came across my desk when I was an admission counselor. (And I would now like to apologize to those students I skimmed over.) But here’s the deal: Great essays get read. Admission counselors can’t help themselves. Great essays pull them in like great novels and when a student is really showcasing their talent as a writer and their character as a potential part of the college/university community, that’s always worth a few extra moments of reading time. (I once had a student explain how she single-handedly saved a summer camp. Seriously!) Good essays get read too – though sometimes they get skimmed a bit for content. It isn’t that these essays aren’t valuable – they are and they give admission counselors the same useful insight that great essays do (especially in terms of the student who shows a lot of raw talent but who also needs some polishing – like, for example, at that admission officer’s college), but they just aren’t as entrancing as great essays. Weak essays get skimmed. If a student’s essay isn’t great OR good, the admission officer will probably just skim past the essay and move right on to your transcript and your test scores to evaluate your candidacy for admission. Bad essays don’t get read. Period. A bad essay will prompt an admission officer to assume one of two things: 1) either you don’t care enough about your future at their school to take the time to write a good essay or 2) you aren’t academically up to attending their college or university. Neither of those assumptions will help you get admitted. Every admission office is different – and most times, your essay will have the opportunity to be read by at least two – and sometimes three or four! – people. And in the majority of cases, those people will be using your writing to determine the strength of your candidacy for admission to their institution, so that’s why it’s crucial to take the time to do it right. Trust me, at a time of year when admission officers are faced with piles and piles (and PILES!) of application files (digital or otherwise) and students are clamoring for admission, the best gift they can receive is that of a tremendous essay – so give them a great reason to tune in and read it all the way through!

Randi HeathmanIndependent Educational ConsultantThe Equestrian College Advisor LLC

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

I’m going to be honest here: I didn’t read every essay that came across my desk when I was an admission counselor. (And I would now like to apologize to those students I skipped over.) But here’s the deal: Great essays get read. Admission counselors can’t help themselves. Great essays pull them in like great novels and when a student is really showcasing their talent as a writer and their character as a potential part of the college/university community, that’s always worth a few extra moments of reading time. (I once had a student explain how she single-handedly saved a summer camp. Seriously!) Good essays get read too – though sometimes they get skimmed a bit for content. It isn’t that these essays aren’t valuable – they are and they give admission counselors the same useful insight that great essays do (especially in terms of the student who shows a lot of raw talent but who also needs some polishing – like, for example, at that admission officer’s college), but they just aren’t as entrancing as great essays. Weak essays get skimmed. If a student’s essay isn’t great OR good, the admission officer will probably just skim past the essay and move right on to your transcript and your test scores to evaluate your candidacy for admission. Bad essays don’t get read. Period. A bad essay will prompt an admission officer to assume one of two things: 1) either you don’t care enough about your future at their school to take the time to write a good essay or 2) you aren’t academically up to attending their college or university. Neither of those assumptions will help you get admitted. Every admission office is different – and most times, your essay will have the opportunity to be read by at least two – and sometimes three or four! – people. And in the majority of cases, those people will be using your writing to determine the strength of your candidacy for admission to their institution, so that’s why it’s crucial to take the time to do it right. Trust me, at a time of year when admission officers are faced with piles and piles (and PILES!) of application files (digital or otherwise) and students are clamoring for admission, the best gift they can receive is that of a tremendous essay – so give them a great reason to tune in and read it all the way through!

Dr. Bruce NeimeyerCEO/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

It really depends on the schools to which you are applying. Many schools read each and every essay. These tend to be smaller liberal arts schools or small selective programs within a larger university. Other schools may only read an essay if there is some question/s about the other parts of the application or there is a scholarship component and the answer to the essay has influence over that decision. It is always best however, to ask each school this very question and to understand exactly what they are looking for from the applicant in their answer. I always tell students that they should be writing and essay that is to be published in the New York Times. If you would not want to see the work you are submitting published there in such a public way, then it is probably not in an acceptable form to submit for your application. It also depends on the school as to how many people will read an application essay. I know of a school where the complete application is read and the passed to another counselor who must agree with the decision of the first counselor. If that does not offer, then the application is passed on to another reader. My sense is that when the application is a part of the equation on the final admissibility question , usually two or more admissions counselors will read the application and essay to render the best possible decision about the admissibility of the applicant.

Sarah ContomichalosManagerEducational Advisory Services, LLC

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

Every essay is read. Most colleges hire readers during the application season. How many people read each essay varies by institution with two being somewhat standard.

Rebecca JosephExecutive Director & Foundergetmetocollege.org

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

College admissions officers are very busy and only want to read essays that help them make admissions decisions. So if colleges ask for essays, they read them. How many officers read the college essay varies. Some colleges have a team of people read each file. Others divide them up, and then only share files that require further discussion. There is not one way that all colleges work, so I always tell students to assume everyone in the admissions office could their essays so that they cannot write anything that anyone and everyone cannot read. Also I believe that students should believe that the more people who read an essay the better as these essays should really captivate and engage readers and help them see why you belong on their campus.

Patricia KrahnkePresident/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

Uh, uh. Nope.

Short Answer: No, not every essay is read, even if it has been requested as part of your application…but you probably will never know whether or not they have read it. Detailed Answer: Institutions that are interested in an essay will specifically state that they require the essay. But the fact is, if your grades and board scores are excellent, they probably won’t look at your essay or letters of recommendation. Sometimes they don’t even look at the essay no matter what your academic record looks like. Certain colleges, especially the small private institutions, will have faculty and admissions committees read the entire application, including the essay. But this is not common. Many institutions are moving toward automatic “review” of applications. In other words, there is an algorithm on the backend (the same data that enabled the college to automatically begin communicating with you as soon as your PSAT scores became available) that crunches your numbers – SAT/ACT, GPA, RIC) and decides whether you are in or out. This means that your entire relationship with a college has been via a machine; no one knows who you are or that you even exist – except as a number the institution can manipulate to its advantage. Now, if the machine says you are “out,” the admissions staff will begin to look more closely at the eliminated applications and admit/deny these students until the admissions department reaches its enrollment goals. At that point, the admissions officers may be searching for more information about you, such as explanations of grade anomalies. They may find this information in your essay or in your letters or recommendation, or in a letter that you include with your application. The most important point to remember is this: If the institution stresses an essay or a personal statement, pay VERY CLOSE ATTENTION to what they request of that essay or personal statement. In other words, if you write a generic essay to send to all your college search choices, and it is clear to the admissions officer reading your essay that you have not paid attention to what they wanted to see in the essay (subject, length, structure, etc.), your application will be denied simply because it is clear that 1) you cannot follow instructions or 2) you didn’t care enough about applying to their institution to follow their instructions. And they will be right on both counts. For example, if you look at the Purdue application this year, they offer three choices of essay topics, each one carefully considered to allow different types of students to write something that matters to them. This presentation of their essay request shows that they DO value the essay, and if you want to get into Purdue – and especially if your grades and board scores aren’t stellar – then you’d better pay attention to this part of the application. Other institutions, such as Indiana University-Bloomington, specifically state that they do not want to receive essays – so if you submit an essay, this also shows that you cannot follow directions. The major reason for an institution to not request an essay is that essay-reading slows down the application review process. They don’t want admissions officers reading essays when those officers can simply be crunching through the numbers on applications and making their decisions based solely on a student’s past successes or challenges – which is why it’s so important to do well in high school from 9th grade through 11th grade. The fact is that most admissions decisions are based on 8th-11th grade trends; they only look to senior grades at the end to ensure that you continued strongly and didn’t get “senioritis.” One more point about essays: A seasoned admissions officer can tell if you’ve written the essay yourself; if your Mom or Dad wrote it; or if you bought it off the Internet. We’d rather see errors in the writing of a wonderful and unique essay than perfect writing in a boring, uninformative essay (or in an essay that does not pertain to what has been requested.) But you would be wise to have whatever you’ve written be proofread: Spell check won’t cut it; it has to be a human being.

Chris PowersCollege Counselor and Philosophy TeacherPowers College Counseling

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

It is my experience that everything that you send to a school is read.

Mollie ReznickAssociate DirectorThe College Connection

It varies from school to school

This is a tough question to answer as there is no way to know for sure. At a smaller school, it is more likely that the admissions officers will have the time to look at each essay, whereas at huge universities it would seem less likely. In terms of how many officers read each essay, that also varies from school to school. Some read regionally which means that one officer reads all the applications from all the high schools in a certain geographic region. Often they are read in committee where several officers might look at one essay. If you want to know how you will be assessed at any given school, you should feel free to ask the admissions office.

Chip LawCo-founder Managing Director Educational Avenues

If I were a betting man, I’d say…

If you were to take bets on the percentage of essays read by college admissions personnel, I’d guess that it would be in the high 90’s. An essay is an important part of sharing who you are with a school. With increased competition for admission, the essay has become an important factor in consideration of your admissibility to a school. So if a school requires an essay it is VERY likely to be read. If a school has a writing section in their supplement to the Common Application you can rest assured that ALL of that writing is evaluated by admissions officers. So…take the essay seriously. Do your best and assume that it WILL be read and that it WILL have a bearing on your admission chances. There is no way to determine a typical scenario regarding a college’s method for reviewing applications. In all cases at least one admissions officer will look at your essay. If a school uses an admissions committee the number could jump to three or more. In any case, what YOU can control is how well your essay describes who you are and gives the admissions person a chance to see things in you that will be an asset to the school.

Margaret TungStrategistYale University

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

The college essay is the only personal way admissions officers will be able to get to know you as a person, not an application (except the alumni interview–but that’s mostly to confirm or refute their impressions of you via your application and your ESSAY). So yes, they are read by all the admissions officers, particularly the ones who oversee your county and region. If you send more than the one supplemental essay suggested, there’s no guarantee they’ll read them–unless they don’t think they have enough to go on. That said, if they don’t think they have enough to go on after 2 essays, you’ve got a bigger problem.

Bill PrudenHead of Upper School, College CounselorRavenscroft School

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

The role of the essay varies greatly from school to school. Some places just crunch numbers and will likely not even read the essay–and will probably make it an optional piece of the process, as a result–while others give it a much greater role in their considerations, with multiple readers weighing in. A lot of it depends upon the selectivity of the school. If they are trying to decide which of 7 or 8 quaiifed applicants to select, then every piece of the application is that much more important and the essays–products of the applicant’s own (hopefully ) work can be particularly enlightening. It is always worth an applicant’s while to write as strong an essay as possible, but its role in the process is a variable one.

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

Usually one to two admissions officers read an essay. Some colleges do not look at essays. Some colleges will choose only to look at your GPA, Course Rigor and SAT/ACT scores. If you GPA and Test Scores are high enough, they may not feel that and essay is necessary. It really depends on the college.

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

Usually one to two admissions officers read an essay. Some colleges do not look at essays. Some colleges will choose only to look at your GPA, Course Rigor and SAT/ACT scores. If you GPA and Test Scores are high enough, they may not feel that and essay is necessary. It really depends on the college.

Heather TomaselloWriting CoachThe EssayLady, LLC

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

This varies from university to university. It’s perfectly acceptable to call the school you’re interested in and ask them! You might want to ask: 1. How many applications do you expect to receive, and how many students will be offered admission? 2. How much weight is given to the essay as part of the whole application? 3. How many people evaluate each application? 4. What kind of rubrics are used? Admissions officers should have no problem answering these questions for you. It always shocks me as I work with students how little they take advantage of this resource.

Nancy MilneOwnerMilne Collegiate Consulting

Admissions officers and essays

You can be certain that you did not spend all that time crafting the perfect essay in vain. If a school asks for an essay, it is read. How much weight a college puts on that portion of the application may differ. Just how many readers digest your words can vary as well. Still, don’t waste the opportunity to put another dimension on your application file.

Laura O’Brien GatzionisFounderEducational Advisory Services

The Essay Component

It depends on the priorities of the school. Many schools have a strong commitment to a holistic review of each application and sometimes have two or three readers for each file. A really good essay can be a strong addition to the application file. Other schools might be so overwhelmed by the sheer number of applications that they make their admit decisions based strictly on statistical requirements. You can often find out how a file is reviewed by attending an information session at the schools on your college list.

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

essay

Is every college essay read? I cannot make that claim, but I do believe that most of them are read. In smaller to mid size colleges they are certainly read, at least by two readers, and all Honors College essays are read.

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

it is all about how much time you get as the applicant

when admissions season started, it is not easy to read hundreds of essay during a short period of time. you can loss your focus easily. in the mean time, between 5-10 min is actually reasonable for a good read. there are different stages for the admissions process. normally essay does not read more than one person unless the vote must proceed and admission counselors decided to work hard for the students they like the most.

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

it is all about how much time you get as the applicant

when admissions season started, it is not easy to read hundreds of essay during a short period of time. you can loss your focus easily. in the mean time, between 5-10 min is actually reasonable for a good read. there are different stages for the admissions process. normally essay does not read more than one person unless the vote must proceed and admission counselors decided to work hard for the students they like the most.

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton College Consulting, LLC

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

Different colleges have varying review processes. At almost all selective colleges however, every college essay will be read by multiple people. One reader admits are very rare. If a student is on the fence, not an early admit or deny, essays will probably be read multiple times by multiple people while an applicant is being discussed.

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton College Consulting, LLC

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

Different colleges have varying review processes. At almost all selective colleges however, every college essay will be read by multiple people. One reader admits are very rare. If a student is on the fence, not an early admit or deny, essays will probably be read multiple times by multiple people while an applicant is being discussed.

Corey FischerPresidentCollegeClarity

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

Yes, every college essay is read if the college has asked for it (and often even if they did not ask for it). The number of readers depends on the college’s review process. It will be anywhere from one reader to four readers.

Tyler BurtonPresident Burton College Tours

It depends on the school.

Many schools have holistic processes for evaluating applications. These schools may give applications up to three reads. Here are some of the ways that schools read essays: 1. Application gets a primary read and if the application is a straight admit then the student is in OR the application is passed on for a second read and then a decision is reached OR the application could then go to a committee. 2. Each application gets two reads. 3. Applications with test scores and GPAs in a certain range get read for admission. 4. International students should expect that their essays and their SAT writing portion will be read. Some schools do cut by the numbers. Most schools read and read and read. Admissions officers go home with up to 700 applications on a cart and spend hours drinking coffee in to the wee hours of the morning. Most schools employ a form of a rate card and the essay(s) are a component of the rate card.

Janet Elfers

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

Of course they are read! Essays give admission officers real insight into the applicant. You might wonder how a huge school would manage reading thousands of essays, but you can trust that they hire extra staff, if necessary, to make sure the entire application gets a close look. The number of readers depends on how “borderline” the applicant is, and the number of applicants being processed. So do your best on that part of the application. Even colleges who say their essay is “optional,” you shoulod definitely write one. It can make all the difference in your admission decision.

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

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

No one knows the real answer to that question.

Kristina DooleyIndependent Educational ConsultantEstrela Consulting

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

A general rule of thumb is that if a school is requiring that you submit something with your application, then you should assume it is going to be reviewed. Depending on the school, your essay might be read by one to three people. If you are not a clear admit (based on the school’s admission criteria) there is a chance your application materials will be reviewed by other members of the admission committee. Some schools also hire application “readers” who only work during the months when schools are receiving the largest influx of applications. These “readers” are generally former admission counselors, alumni, college counselors, etc…so they have experience!

Susan Knoppow

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

Admissions officers tell us they read every essay. The number of reviewers reading the essays vary from school to school.

Susan Knoppow

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

Admissions officers tell us they read every essay. The number of reviewers reading the essays vary from school to school.

Zahir RobbCollege CounselorThe Right Fit College

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

Yes, every essay is read. Some campuses have a pool of reviewers, while others are more specific. For a small college, there is a chance that you essay will only be read by a couple of individuals, but for a larger school it can make its way through several hands before being put down. While essays don’t weigh as much as grades or course selection, if you are applying test-optional or to a smaller school, more attention will be given to this section of the application.

James MontoyaVice President of Higher EducationThe College Board

Is every college essay read? How many admissions officers read them?

Here is my video response to the question.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

It Depends

As you might already have guessed, some colleges (large public universities) might not have the staff to read all of the essays. They might just read the essays of those who are “on the fence.” Other colleges (mostly smaller schools) may try to read every single essay, and in some instances, there is more than one reader for each file, so your essay might receive multiple reads. However, to be on the safe side, work diligently and thoughtfully on your essay no matter what kinds of schools are on your list!

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