College Application Essay/Personal Statement Rubric

Students should meet with their counselors as early as freshmen year to begin mapping out action plans.These plans should include classes they’re taking now, what courses to take next and following years, SAT and ACT test-prep timelines, and how to begin building balanced college lists.

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The best applications and the weakest don’t come to committee. Once you commit the time and emotional energy to get your butt in the chair to write, you face a daunting task — figuring out what to write about. With so much freedom, this is a challenge for most students.

It’s the gigantic stack in the middle that warrants discussion. Here’s a tip: Choose a topic you really want to write about. It might be your favorite book or the Pythagorean theorem. We share clothes and watch ‘The Real Housewives’ of three different cities together” does not make for a good essay.

When making admissions decisions, colleges and universities in the US don’t just look at grades and test scores.

There are a myriad of factors that admissions officers consider when evaluating college applications, and it’s important to understand what colleges are looking for in order to have the best chance of admission to your top-choice colleges.

If the subject doesn’t matter to you, it won’t matter to the reader. It might be why you don’t believe in evolution or how you think kale must have hired a PR firm to get people to eat it. In school, you were probably encouraged to write papers that took a side. “I love my mom even though she makes me clean my room, hates my guinea pig and is crazy about disgusting food like kale” could lead somewhere While the personal essay has to be personal, a reader can learn a lot about you from whatever you choose to focus on and how you describe it.

College Application Essay/Personal Statement Rubric Sample Personal Narrative Essay

That’s fine in academic work when you’re being asked to argue in support of a position, but in a personal essay, you want to express more nuanced thinking and explore your own clashing emotions. One of my favorites from when I worked in admissions at Duke University started out, “My car and I are a lot alike.” The writer then described a car that smelled like wet dog and went from 0 to 60 in, well, it never quite got to 60.

This is why in addition to the “hard factors” (GPA, grades, and test scores) of a student’s application, colleges also place great weight on the “soft factors” (essays, extracurricular activities, recommendations, and demonstrated interest) in order to gain a full picture of applicants.

How these components are evaluated, however, can be confusing to families and make the college admissions process somewhat mysterious.

Help from your college counselor is most valuable for these components.

How The “Points” Are Used Gaining admissions isn’t as simple as getting the highest marks in all rubric categories. Analysis on yield from last year, budgets, departmental needs, and more are all taken into consideration when determining the threshold students have to meet in order to be qualified for admission to the university.


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