Listening to admissions officers this week at the Higher Education Consultants Association annual conference, I got to hear what college admissions officers do not like to read when it comes to admission application essays. Specifically, they hate to read anything that does not add to their understanding of student personality, what the student thinks or is passionate about. Unfortunately, they report, that is what they read all too often.
Conference presenters from admissions also agreed that the question that can make or break an application is why the student is applying to a specific college. Sometimes, the answer is a cut and paste from their own website or something that sounds like it came from one of the brochures sent out by the college. It is not surprising that students who will not take the time to research a college and craft an informed answer are less likely to be admitted.
A good practice for high school students is to keep notes of their impressions of colleges when they visit or talk to alumni or have an email exchange with staff or students. Those notes can help students recall the specific reasons they are attracted to each college they are considering. Admission officers want to read about the reason a student wants to attend their college in relation to what the student would like to do to make the world a better place.