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

Application Process

Our counselors answered:

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

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton 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.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational 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.

Chris Powers
College Counselor and Philosophy Teacher Powers 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.

Rebecca Joseph
Executive Director & Founder getmetocollege.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.

Heather Tomasello
Writing Coach The 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.

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 Robb
College Counselor The 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.

Randi Heathman
Independent Educational Consultant The 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!