In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, the author stated something I remind my students of  often: your essay is an all-important, if not  key, component of your application.  After admissions staff  have culled the most promising applications based on GPA, test scores, and the like, they look to the essay in their final vetting. If two students with equally impressive transcripts are in the penultimate pile, it’s the essay that determines which one will make it to the final pile.

All of the above (sorry to harken back to SAT lingo) is nothing new, as high school counselors point out the essay factor to anxious applicants probably twenty times a day.  What is new, however, is the word count for the personal statement of the Common Application: it has been extended from 500 to 650 words. Word-counting students might groan at this, but the truth is that if a student writes an authentic personal essay — one whose seed is what excites, incenses, or moves its writer — the additional 150 words are a godsend.

An essay that rings true reaps the wheat, a false one,the chaff.

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