College Essays

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Why the College Essay (Still) Matters

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In the age of Chat GPT, when artificial intelligence (AI) can write just about anything for you, the authentic feel of a writer’s voice seems to be slowly slipping away. That is a travesty, and even ChatGPT knows that nothing can replace heartfelt human writing. As the ChatGPT app warns, it “may occasionally generate incorrect information,” or it may even, “produce biased content.”

Because ChatGPT is on the cutting edge of technology and communication right now, we asked ChatGPT what it had to say about writing the college essay. Here’s the reply: “A good college essay is one that effectively communicates who you are as a person, demonstrates your writing skills, and shows the admissions committee why you would be a good fit for their school.” Well, AI got that right.

However, no one can write your story like you can. The authenticity, clarity, and personal voice that can come through the writing in a college essay is unmatched.

Read on to learn some reasons why the college essay still matters:

1.) It’s your chance to talk. So much of the Common App and college applications requires you to plug in numbers, itemize activities, and report letter grades. The essay, on the other hand, is your chance to tell a story. Do you need help telling your story? A company like College Ready offers the assistance of an essay editor who can help you brain storm, structure, and edit your essay ideas so that you come up with a remarkable college essay.

2.) It holds more weight now than ever. So many schools have dropped the admissions requirements for the SAT and the ACT. According to Forbes, in 2023, more than 80% of four-year colleges will not require standardized tests for admissions. Test-optional, it seems, is the new normal. And now, more than ever, the essay has emerged as a chance to stand out and showcase your creativity, personality, character, and values. How do you do that? College Ready can help you get going on your college essay with one-on-one brainstorming sessions or a comprehensive editing package to ensure your essay is polished and ready for submission.

3.) It could be the tipping point. As famous author Malcom Gladwell notes, “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” When you consider your own college essay as a tipping point, consider this: You could be statistically matched up with many other similar applicants at the college of your choice. You could have the same grades, test scores, and a comparable resume of extracurricular activities. How will you be set apart? What magic moment will make you stand out to the admissions committee? The answer could lie in a masterfully written, memorable essay.

4.) Words matter. Whether you are planning to be an engineer, an endocrinologist, an entrepreneur, or an English teacher, you have to be adept at communicating. Writing your college essay is one way to demonstrate your communication skills to the college you wish to attend. Reading your college essay is a way for an admissions committee to hear your voice, to learn about you through a story, and to get to gage how well you write. If you need the help of an editor to assist with your college essay, reach out to College Ready.

5.) It can help you identify your values. The depths that a college essay can reach in just 650 words is inspiring. However, without a solid direction, those 650 words can be wasted on a drab, forgettable essay. In order to make essays more meaningful, we aim for personal values. When College Ready works with students who are starting the essay process, we encourage them to identify their core values. Core values are your fundamental beliefs, and even if you don’t think you have them—you do. Check out this basic list of core values, and see if you can pinpoint what really matters to you. Usually, through brainstorming, storytelling, and writing, students tend to naturally write about things that showcase their most significant values. College Ready students have written about topics like fencing, pork dumplings, plants, books, tank tops, football, little siblings, grandparents, dancing, and much more. But in each essay, students managed to express certain values through their writing—like justice, generosity, tradition, or compassion—making even the most mundane topics deep and meaningful. At College Ready, we can work with you to pinpoint some people, moments, or lessons in your life that can help you to tell a rich and memorable story in your college admissions essay.

And no, no one else should write this essay for you. The admissions committee does not want to read an essay written by someone else. It also doesn’t want to read an essay about the awards you’ve won or how much you studied for science; all those things are already listed in your application. College essays allow you to present something more significant than test scores or grades; writing like this can provide a more holistic picture of you. They want to connect with you via a well written essay, and in this day and age, human connection is something to be valued. Even ChatGPT, our favorite AI agrees, “Human connection is incredibly valuable. We are social creatures, and we need connection with others to thrive both physically and emotionally.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves—well, actually, we probably could have.

Write an authentic college essay, and use your own experiences and voice to land in a college that is a great fit for you. Learn more about College Ready, book a call to connect with us, and find out how we can help you with writing your college admissions essay.

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