The below post was written by Ms. Emily Minty from the BHS Guidance Department
On September 25, 2015, all seniors attended a presentation by a panel of college admission representatives on the topic of the college essay. This event is coordinated and sponsored by the National Honor Society and the National Honor Society Advisors, Abby Abbot and Alex Allaire.
Merrimack College James Cristiano firstname.lastname@example.org
Salem State Jacklyn Jackie Haas email@example.com
Suffolk University Sara Morales firstname.lastname@example.org
UNH Kristin Butterfield Kristen.Butterfield@unh.edu
Harvard Meg Brooks-Swift email@example.com
Northeastern University Alice Smith firstname.lastname@example.orgUMass Lowell Doug Seed Douglas_Seed@uml.edu
Why an essay?
Only piece that comes directly from you, where you get to speak directly.
Convey who you are as a person and what you would bring to campus community.
Can give admissions rep material to advocate for you in committee.
Puts everything else into context.
- Draft, proofread, revise.
- Have one to two people look it over for you.
- Common app topics on how you overcame a problem could be way to share how you’ve changed and overcome.
- Feel connected to what you’re writing.
- Write about something that isn’t otherwise obvious in your application.
- Be authentic.
- Focus in on one small moment instead of the big picture.
- Pay attention to the question that you’re answering.
- Whatever you’re writing about, focus on how it impacted you.
- You don’t need the “perfect” topic. A mundane topic can still be a great essay.
- Let someone else write it for you or lose your voice in the process.
- Write all about someone else or sports event and not enough about you.
- Accidentally mention the wrong college name.
- Write outside your comfort zone or overdo it.
- Cliche topics: athletic injuries, don’t google “best college essays”, personal tragedies--make sure to focus on how these things affected you and how you’ve overcome.
- UMass Lowell-- Essay is only a focus if they’re on the fence based on GPA and test scores. Rec. letter from one teacher (about who you are as a student). 1-4 total.
- Salem-- Admission decision is purely based on grades and test scores. Do not require essay or recommendation letters. Recommend if need to share special circumstances. DO require it for Summer Bridge Academy, Honors program (emphasize time management skills)
- Harvard-- Essay is the chance to separate yourself. Encouraged to take advantage of optional supplemental essay too. Essay gets read by many people and goes to committees and is often read multiple times by same person. Also require SAT Subject Tests. Alumni interview is arranged after you apply.
- UNH-- Doesn’t offer interviews, but does offer one-on-one appointments with admission counselors. Rec. letter from guidance counselor only.
- Merrimack--Since SATs are not required, essay is especially important. Extracurricular involvement is extremely important.
- Northeastern-- Holistic review of application, including essay. Looks at Extracurricular activities very closely. Require only one recommendation. Only send others if new information.
- Suffolk--Look at all pieces to see how student fits into community. Test scores will never be the reason that someone does or doesn’t get in, although there are certain majors that you need a minimum score for.
- Transcript is always the most important part of the application; to see if student is prepared to be successful in college.
- With extra-curricular activities, important that it’s clear that you had a real passion for things as opposed to just adding as many as you can. Does not only include school-affiliated activities.
- Recommendations from outside people can be interesting.
- Since requirements vary, make sure that you check with each college about their preferences and requirements.