The average admission counselor may read 50 applications per day. Accompanying each application are approximately ten to 20 sheets of paper. Therefore, an admissions counselor could potentially review at least 1,000 sheets of paper in a single workday, and your essay may be one of those 1,000 sheets of paper. How will your college admission essay get noticed? Distinctive detail.
The goal of an admissions essay is to transform yourself from a three-dimensional person into a two-dimensional text. The best way to create this transformation is through distinctive detail.
Generally speaking, admissions counselors are detail-oriented people. They will notice details if you take the time to make them distinctive. Exactly what are distinctive details though?
Distinctive details describe you beyond what admissions counselors can see in your application: your idiosyncrasies, oddities, and hopes and dreams. For example, you may write that you like M&Ms, but you may also want to write that you like the blue M&Ms better than the red M&Ms. You may express that you cannot stand most poetry in English, but you might also want to mention that you love poetry in French. Students should aim to write something heartfelt and memorable; however, sheer shock value rarely works in the applicant’s favor.
Remember your audience. When writing any piece of your college admission essay, you should strive to evoke emotion from the reader. Laughter and crying are two that may be useful to use.
Admissions counselors are also looking for intellectual curiosity in students. They want someone who their peers find stimulating inside and outside the classroom. Intellectual curiosity can be found in college admission essays through use of distinctive detail as well. For example, rather than mentioning your academic interest in science, explain your specific interest in researching tuberculosis. When describing your interests outside of school, rather than writing you like to watch movies with friends, share how you enjoy watching I Love Lucy re-runs with your friends while drinking Mountain Dew.
Whatever topic you choose to write about, remember to use distinctive detail. It will make your college admission essay stand out and get noticed!