Understanding What Colleges Are Looking for in Your Child
The college essay writing gives your child a chance to communicate with the school on a more personal level. Other parts of your child’s application—grades, scores, and recommendations—show what your child has done. Your child’s college essay reveals who she is. It can be a strong voice in your child’s favor and a way to stand out from the rest.
An Essay of Self-Analysis
Self-analysis isn’t easy and it can be especially hard to do at this point in your child’s life, when many of her goals and plans are unsettled.
Your child may already have confronted this problem at college interviews. Admissions people ask, “Tell us about yourself” or “What are your hopes and aspirations?” These are questions that require some thought, and they’re pretty hard. The essay is a chance to demonstrate which questions your child has asked herself and what answers she has found.
Your child’s college essay is going to be examined as a clue to her writing ability by an audience that is both critical and crucial. For example, Columbia University lets your child know what they’re looking for right on the application: “Please remember that we are concerned not only with the substance of your prose but with your writing as well.” After all, a very large part of your child’s performance and evaluation in college will be based on essays and written tests.
Some schools require or encourage submission of an academic essay or writing sample. There’s no reason not to send a school essay. Your child should choose a strong performance (a B+ or better) and a paper on a not-too-esoteric topic. Your child should not send a 15-page term paper or a collation of library research. A short, illuminating essay on one poem, one lab experiment, one incident in history, is a good choice.