Applying To College

College Essay Writing and Interview Skills

College Essay Writing: Will The College Think You’re A Match?

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I had lunch this weekend with a friend from Norwalk, Connecticut, who told me about the essay help her daughter had gotten from a high school teacher. The teacher asked her students to be very creative with their ideas, and my friend’s daughter wrote about a dream to fly in hot air balloons.  My friend said the essay was good; it was interesting, filled with ideas and a good sense of self, and was, indeed, very creative. But it wasn’t a good submission for their daughter. Why? Because this young lady was applying to a physician assistant’s program, and her parents felt she needed to show that her goals matched the goals of the school. They were right.

If this young lady were an aspiring writer or pursuing another form of the arts, a creative essay on balloon flight might have served her well. But for her, the essay didn’t achieve an important purpose.

Colleges want to see that you can write creatively about your goals and aspirations. But colleges also want to see that you understand who THEY are. Do you understand their educational philosophy? Can you show them how you’ll fit in and make a positive contribution to their school? Are you a match?

Given the program she wanted to attend, this young lady hadn’t done that. She needed to make a change.

So my friend’s daughter wrote a different essay, discussing the influences in her life that led her to want to care for others. She was creative, but she also found ways to show the college that she was a good match for their program. It was a good essay choice. This year, her mother told me, she’s starting their physician assistant’s program.


Author: Sharon Epstein

College consultant, teaching students how to write memorable college application essays, grad school and prep school essays, and succeed at job and college interviews.

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