The Admissions Committee, Demystified

The truth is the admissions officers are just people. The difference between them and everybody else on this planet is that they are trying to create the best freshman class possible—strong students who are likely to graduate and who will have a positive and fruitful experience at their school. They are looking for young people who will enrich the dynamics of campus life with their thoughts, passions, and personalities. They don’t expect perfection. They are, after all, looking to fill the class with human beings.

At most schools, at least two admissions officers will read your essay. Both of these admissions officers have to read hundreds of essays and will spend an average of 10 to 20 minutes reading yours.

All admissions officers are not the same. Here are some potential characteristics: some are recent graduates, others have been in the profession for thirty years; some are a laugh-a-minute, while others are humorless; some are sticklers for structure, while others are suckers for creativity. You get the idea. Attempting to target a particular reader is a waste of time.

Write about what you want to write about, not what you think the admissions officers want you to write about. Your essay won’t ring true if you don’t focus on what’s in your heart. When a writer is genuinely connected to a topic, the reader can tell and will want to keep reading. Don’t worry if you don’t think you have anything interesting to say. We promise that you do!

Admissions Committees Want
  • Self-revelation
  • Honesty
  • Organization
  • Directness
  • Clarity
  • Concision
  • Candor
  • Sincerity
  • Originality
  • Good syntax
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