College applications are the bane of every high school senior’s existence. Endless hours of inputting in the same information over and over, and each time trying to find ways to make yourself sound more interesting and valuable to a college. Sometimes, the process can become so meticulous that students overlook small things that can make a huge difference.
From my personal experience, I was the victim of such carelessness. When I was in the process of applying to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I was working my way through the online application: filling in the same items that I had filled in countless times. In my boredom and carelessness, I pressed the “next” button one too many times, and I completely skipped over an entire page that asked for qualities that separated me from other students. I did not notice the mistake until after I submitted my application, and I printed out a paper form of my application. I saw that an entire sheet came out with blank answers, and I had no recollection of ever filling out that page. Fortunately, I called UNC and they agreed to let me send in an answered copy of that page. I later was accepted.
In my experience, and from talking to other students as well as college admission officers, the number one mistake that applicants make is making their essay, qualifications, and activities sound like they came out of a “college application machine.” This machine spits out very clear, concise, almost perfect essays and descriptions of strengths. You know what I am talking about. Those essays that cite that “The most important trait to me is perseverance because with it, I know that I can overcome everything.” Colleges do not want to read that! Believe me, they probably read that on the other thousand applications that they read the day before. BE CREATIVE! Colleges are not looking for students that can spit out an essay that follows a mold or a form. Don’t be afraid to do something completely crazy. I know one girl at my school that wrote her admission essay about spoiled milk. Guess what, they did not deny her.
Colleges want to see that you have the ability to think, process thoughts, and convey them on paper. Writing an essay that follows the same form as everyone else shows that you can conform. Do you really think that this is what colleges want?