In a word, Yes! In fact, in some instances the college essay can make or break an application. Especially for highly selective schools where admissions are competitive, a strong essay can be the deciding factor. All things bring relatively equal, the essay is an opportunity for applicants to distinguish themselves from the pack.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that a college admissions team has one seat left and they have narrowed down the remaining pool to 15 or 20 students who have all performed well in high school and generally met the criteria for entry; the essay suddenly becomes the most vital component of a student’s application as the admissions office seeks to differentiate the applicants.
Moreover, in recent years admissions officers have trended toward putting more emphasis on the essay, and some schools have even shifted some of the weight away from applicants’ academic record over to the essay. Some would argue that today, more than ever, a well-crafted college essay is essential to high school students maximizing the likelihood of acceptance to their target schools.
One of the unfortunate ironies of the college essay process is that students are pressured to be insightful and well-reasoned during a time when they often feel overwhelmed, confused, and stressed. The process is further complicated because everyone has an opinion: mom, dad, the college counselor, the private college counselor, the aunt, the English teacher, the family friend in publishing, the next-door neighbor – well, you get the idea.
So why add “Next Level instructor” to that list? First of all, we’re not family, so the stress of perceived judgment or sentimental preferences are eliminated. Second, Next Level instructors understand that the main application essay (aka “personal statement”) is really more like a page from a memoir, and, as such, it is our job to help the student select a topic and employ language that actually sounds like him or her, because the essay IS his or hers and colleges are rather adept at detecting the underlying hand of “invisible helpers.” This well-meaning “support” can become particularly conspicuous when a student ends up discussing his or her essay in an admissions interview.
The first step is topic selection: What does the student feel most passionate about? What experience, idea, or decision lights up the student? And then, of course, how can the student tell his or her story in a way that is both authentic and compelling? Our low-pressure, friendly, collaborative approach helps the student relax into brainstorming and freewriting on relevant questions that organically lead to selecting an appropriate topic.
After that, we help the student build an engaging essay through various writing tasks (“How does this paragraph improve if you include some sensory details?”), so the student leaves not only with an authentic essay, but also with repeatable and transferable skills that can be applied to future writing tasks.
But…there are supplements, too. Next Level instructors help with those as well, from tracking due dates to evaluating content overlap that helps students liven up those snooze-inducing, “Why do you want to go to [name of school]?” questions.
Everything we do with college essay support is designed to help students tap into their creativity and develop a captivating essay that emerges from their authentic voice and avoids sounding like a dreary exercise in completing a compulsory assignment.
For more information please contact Next Level Learning to find out more about how Next Level instructors can help students improve their odds of being accepted to their target schools.