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The vast majority of these essays come from current college students who were admitted within the last two or three years.Admit See has a team that analyzes all of these materials, gathering both qualitative and quantitative findings.And they’ve found some juicy insights about what different elite colleges are looking for in essays.
Another’s essay was a list of her favorite books and focused on where each book was purchased.“One of the big questions our users have is whether they should take a risk with their essay, writing about something that reveals very intimate details about themselves or that takes an unconventional format,” Shyu says.
“What we’re finding is that successful essays are not ones that talk about an accomplishment or regurgitate that student’s résumé .
You can even consider answering this prompt by tying it to an extracurricular activity or cause that you’ve worked on and demonstrated leadership in. However, we’d recommend including a standout anecdote that illustrates a lesser known aspect of your personality. [NO CHANGE] Stanford Short Question 4: What five words best describe you? The only thing to look out for is not choosing too many synonyms. Ask your friends, teachers, coach, family and see if they give you different words that you didn’t even think of!
[NO CHANGE] Stanford Short Question 2: How did you spend your last two summers? Again, you can provide a short reasoning as to why you chose to spend the last two summers the way you did. [REPHRASED] Stanford Short Question 5: “When the choice is yours, what do you read, listen to, or watch?
Most of these questions are quite straightforward and require you to give a straight answer.
Of course, there are ways for you to try and incorporate who you are and highlight specific qualities about yourself. Of the short questions, four of the question prompts remain the same, one is rephrased and two new ones were added: [NO CHANGE] Stanford Short Question 1: What is the most significant challenge that society faces today?Experts say that a stellar essay is the linchpin that will win the admissions department over.But what is less well known is that different colleges favor particular topics and even specific words used in essays.The first is that it is very valuable for applicants to tailor their essays for different schools, rather than perfecting one essay and using it to apply to every single school.The second is that these essays can offer insight into the culture of the school.The most compelling essays are those that touch on surprising personal topics.”Of course, one caveat here is that taking a risk only makes sense if the essay is well-executed.Shyu says that the content and structure of the story must make a larger point about the applicant, otherwise it does not serve a purpose.But in this short time, Admit See has already gathered 15,000 college essays in their system.Many are from people who got into well-ranked colleges, since they targeted these students first.(Admit See had 539 essays from Stanford and 393 from Harvard at the time of this interview, but more trickle in every day.) High-achieving high schoolers frequently apply to both schools—often with the very same essay—but there are stark differences between what their respective admissions departments seem to want.One general insight is that students who take risks with the content and the structure of their college essays tend to be more successful across the board. One successful student wrote an essay tracking how his credit card was stolen, making each point of the credit card’s journey a separate section on the essay and analyzing what each transaction meant.