The dreaded college essay. It is one of the top three things (in addition to GPA and SAT/ACT scores) that college admissions officers use to consider for admissions, and so it’s vitally important that your teen gets this right.
Why’s the College Essay Important?
The goal of the essay is to set your teen apart from other students. When comparing other students with similar GPAs and test scores, the essay can be the catalyst that makes it or breaks it with admissions officers. Students need to demonstrate why they’re a good fit for the school and how they’ll contribute. They’re selling themselves here in a big way.
Imagine that Johnny and Delilah each have similar GPAs, academic rigor and SAT scores. That essay will be the very next thing to set each of them apart from each other.
What Should My Teen Write About?
The Common Application announced the 2016-2017 essay prompts in January; they’re actually the same as 2015-2106’s prompts, so juniors can start thinking of topics they’d like to include in their essays right now.
There are one of two themes your teen should consider including on the college essay – be sure to know what these are before choosing a topic!
When Should It be Written?
The ideal time to have your teen complete the essay(s) is during the summer before their senior year. Don’t wait! There are too many distractions when school starts again, and with everything else that your kid will need on that application, it’s best to get it done sooner rather than later.
Some colleges require additional essays in addition to those found on the Common Application, and others require only responses to their own essay prompts. Be sure to check directly with the college websites or admissions offices of each school your teen is considering to find out for sure.
HOT TIP: I know it’s going to be tempting to help your high schooler write the essay. DON’T DO IT! Sure, you can help brainstorm topics, an outline for the essay and help proofread/edit, but don’t write the thing. College admissions officers can smell a parent’s involvement from a mile away, and it’s a huge detriment for your teen in the long run.
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