That's because it provides them insight into who you are a person, what unique value you can add to the mix of students, and if you will eventually enhance the brand of that educational institution.
In addition, they are aware of how they are perceived in terms of preparation for a career. Consequently, you should indicate that you have a realistic understanding of that pragmatic issue.
The importance of what you put down and how you do that is obvious. Even The New York Times published a how-to on that.
In coaching students in the United States, Canada, and China on how to present themselves effectively, I hammer these 4 musts:
Make it personal. This is about you. That means the tone and stylistics will capture your very individual identity. No, don't try to sound like the smartest, most community oriented, or most popular student in your high school. You are you, not them.
However, you must, as the saying goes, stay in the box in use of language. Profanity and excessive use of slang/pop culture phrases are not in the box.
Provide details. Soon enough when you get to college and take a formal course in exposition, the instructor will continually emphasize making your statements concrete. That is, provide details. For example, in the essay, you don't simply state you have gained from overcoming adversity.
Describe the nature of ordeal and specific takeaways. Here is an example:
"In May 2016, dad came home from work 'early.' We knew: His company had been laying off for 16 months. The first thought was about me and how the family would be able to pay for college. Then, somehow I got it that I could help him and, therefore, mom and my brother. 'Dad, I said, the basement will be your office.' I gave up that private space. I asked at the deli for more hours on my schedule. I brought him more into my little life.
"Dad started a business in dog grooming. Now he has a van for mobile services. We all pitch in. I like what I'm learning about business and have decided to major in it. My dream is to create a service which guides families through transitions. Right now I am there to listen to a classmate whose parents are both unemployed. The ideal internship would be in an outplacement firm. The one my father used introduced him to how to work for himself."
Explain why you selected this particular college. That serves multiple purposes. First of all, that shows you have done your research. Secondly, through what you say, you are indicating that you have thought through that this is the right fit for you. The committee will be reassured you will stick with it for four years and not transfer or just drop out after one. And, three, you are using the charm offensive. Everyone likes to hear good things about themselves. Those include committee members. Cite what aspects of the college which you find awesome.
Proofread. Of course, you're going to do that. However, you have to do it every time you revise the essay. That editing process frequently generates new typos and grammatical errors. Also, it's wise to have another pair of eyes checking spelling and grammar.
A question I continually receive from those I coach on essays is: Should they create a unique letter for each school?
Answer: That depends.
Frequently, customizing a pattern letter is enough. However, each institution has its own identity. If there is a major difference between the identity of School X and School Y, then it's smart strategy to start from scratch on each essay.
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