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What Colleges Say About The Admissions Essay

Imagine pacing back and forth growing more impatient as the seconds go by, sitting at the kitchen table waiting for inspiration to hit you.


Then, you proceed to open your laptop hoping that the greatest college essay topic to ever grace the world will appear in your head within the three seconds it takes to open the laptop. The scenario becomes more stressful, causing a dramatic exit from the house and the family dog to become extremely confused.


This scenario takes place more often than one might think. According to an article on Hillside.org, an average of fifty percent of high school seniors put off writing their college essays to the last minute because they are too nervous to even start. They are either bad at managing time, confused on certain aspects of the assignment, or simply afraid to be personal and authentic in their writing. Whatever the situation, writing one essay that can determine your future is a trying situation to be in. When reaching out to Neuman college the answers to these most asked questions became very clear.


Speaking with an admissions director from Neuman college in New Jersey, he was asked what is the best way to start an essay? He responded that starting the essay is the most difficult part. He recommends starting off with a subject that jumps out at you, something that keeps your reader guessing: “If you can capture my attention and draw me in from the beginning, the better’, says Mr.John Ettore from Neuman college.

Another popular question about college essays is what are admissions counselors looking for in an essay specifically? This answer really varies from school to school and how each institution uses the essay in the admission evaluation process.“Personally, I want the essay to help me better know the applicant. I want the essay to bring the applicant to life for me, so I know the writer as a student/person and not just an applicant. I think the essay, in some ways, is a great way to make a personal connection with the admission officer. I want the essay to share or tell me something that won’t necessarily be in the application, recommendations, or other information I read about the applicant,’ says Mr.Ettore.

Some common mistakes in an essay that you should avoid are oversharing. Mr. Ettore explains that there is a fine line and you must remain balanced. If your subject is about a negative experience, try to explain how that situation changed you for the better. Always end with a positive outcome, solution or plan. Another common mistake is spelling and grammar. Mr.Ettore strongly believes in spell check and as many revisions as you believe you might need.

Now, when taking into consideration how long an essay should be there is no definite right answer. Mr.Ettore explained that the main objective is to get your point across and be done. Do not feel the need to write an entire novel but simply start off with a problem, give details and examples in between then end with a solution. “ I would avoid being too short, say, a paragraph or two. For me, this does not show investment and commitment to the importance of your college application process. Follow the great advice of your English teachers when writing an essay; usually five paragraphs,’ says Mr.Ettore.


Another factor you should consider is standing out. Mr.Ettore happily provided me with the most interesting essay he has read so far in his career. “This past year I read an essay from a student about the numerous goldfish funerals she attended; it was hilarious. The student basically wrote about not being able to keep her goldfish alive. It stood out for a number of reasons, but honestly, on this day, I had read so many essays about students with anxiety, depression, and being bullied, that it was a breath of fresh air for me to read something light and funny. Timing is everything! The essay was also really well written. It was funny, personal, and provided me with insight into the student’s personality,’ says Mr.Ettore.


When discussing what the best topics are Mr.Ettore explained that how writing about a personal experience is unforgettable and memorable. It gives the reader insight to know the writer as a person.”Topics that highlight an accomplishment, a growth opportunity, or something you learned, and how you can apply the experience to college or the future are very good as well. Topics that allow your passion to shine also make for good reading,’ says Mr.Ettore.

“I think the best advice I can offer is; pick a topic or subject you are passionate about, where you can be genuine, authentic, and the essay helps you become a “real person” to the admission counselor, not just an applicant applying for admission. Use the easy to make a personal connection through writing,’ says Mr.Ettore.

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