The Secret to College Admissions Essays

Ever heard of “The Deal” before? It’s just a little thing that keeps everyone and everything thing in the entire world together. You and your friends, your parents, even you and your college have a deal – it's the thing one side wants that the other can give them.

For you, it’s clear what you want from the school: an endless stream of parties masquerading as an education. Quick tickets to a cappella concerts. That sort of thing. When you apply to a university, you’re making it clear you want them.

But for the school, what is it they want from you? Believe it or not, it’s your job to figure that out.

When you identify what it is about you that is desirable, you help do the college’s work for them.

Maybe you’re a left-handed oboe player from Wyoming? Maybe not. Maybe you’re a world-class chess champion who is also a left-handed oboe player. Okay, sorry about that. Focus.

The point is that each applicant has something that sets him or her apart, and it’s your job as an applicant to find it, and make it a big part of your application. You need to make it clear what the deal is between you and the school – you get a four-year party with some schooling on the side and a very large bill, and they get… what?

Who are you and what do you bring to the table?

Remember to articulate what might stand out best about you. While you're at it, try and write as few essays as possible for all the schools you want to apply to. Now you're doing twice the work with less than twice the effort. Not half bad.

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