Amherst College Essay: A Little Help From Our Friends

All the leaves are something, something, something...

Fun Fact: This picture was taken in February. Amherst's physics department can change the weather locally.

Amherst College is a Common App-exclusive school, but unlike many of its peers, it has gone ahead and released its 2011 essay requirements to the general public. They're quite lengthy, so we won't reprint them here, but Amherst's decision to put them out ahead of the Common App's August update points out a few great things about top schools like Amherst and what its actions mean for other schools that follow.

1. The more open a school is with you, the more open you can be in return. By putting out such a complex series of questions early in the admissions season, Amherst is showing you that it's worth preparing to write your application essay. Amherst's questions are challenging, and they require quite a bit of thought. Go ahead and put in the time it takes. Write multiple drafts. Get it right.

2. You have more work ahead of you than you think. Amherst recognizes that senior years are busier than they get credit for. So take advantage of the time the school has afforded you by putting this info out ahead of time. With opportunities like this and tools like CEO, your workload can be a lot more manageable than, say, those of your overworked and underprepared friends.

3. The college essay is the most underrated and under-appreciated part of the application. The admissions officers at Amherst know what it's like to read half-baked and ill-conceived essays. Sure, they see writing from a lot of the top students in the country, but they also see it from people that have rushed themselves through a pile of applications, regardless of their grades and resum├ęs. This is your opportunity to speak to the college - your chance to create something of a dialogue and show them who you are. Make the most of it.

If we were hard pressed to add a fourth element to this list, it would be that Amherst appreciates how many movies you have to watch this summer. That vampire flick ain't gonna watch itself. Thank the school for its foresight and watch all the movies. There are so many. Then fire up CEO and get back to work.

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