Applying to college is stressful. While there are many factors you can’t predict, crafting a successful college admissions essay is entirely within your control.
READ: Check out an updated essay-tips article here.
With deadlines fast approaching – scholarship (Dec. 1) and regular notification (Feb. 1) – College of Charleston admissions counselors have a few tips for your admissions essays:
Don’t: Let the essay overwhelm you
The admissions essay is an important part of your application, but it’s not going to make or break you. Don’t spend so much time and energy on your essay that you miss college application deadlines. Deadlines are pervasive in college and well beyond graduation. Admissions counselors want to see that you can meet them.
Do: Use spellcheck and grammar check
When essays are submitted with obvious errors it shows carelessness – not what you want to portray through your admissions portfolio.
Don’t: Submit an incorrectly formatted essay
Thoughtful experimentation is one thing, but your essay should reflect what you know; you should know how to properly format a formal essay.
EXPLORE: Learn about the admissions process at the College of Charleston
Do: Have a teacher proofread it
Teacher or guidance counselor—it doesn’t really matter as long as they’re not related to you. Family members might infer subtleties outsiders won’t and you need to be sure any reader will understand your message.
Do: Make it personal
You’ll hear about subjects you should “never” write about, but we want to learn about you as a person and as a student. If one of those taboo subjects has impacted your development, write about it. If you feel like you can own the topic and justify its relevance then it’s appropriate to write about.
Don’t: Use gimmicks
Unless you’re getting at something that will jump off the page immediately, don’t use text messaging shorthand or send a blank piece of paper to represent the greatest risk you’ve ever taken. Let your story and your writing – not a clever ploy – speak for you.
READ: Explore the College in Spanish
Do: Take advantage of the personal statement option (if offered)
Use the primary essay to talk about yourself, but write a secondary personal statement if there’s something you feel warrants further explanation – a poor grade or no higher-level language after junior year, for example.
Don’t: Make excuses
If you earned a bad grade or stopped taking language courses because you were lazy, don’t go out of your way to blame external factors. Conversely, if you discovered you have a learning disability or your school didn’t offer higher-level language courses, explain it in your personal statement.
"The College of Charleston Honors College made me feel like I was more than a student with a GPA. They made me feel like I was a person with individual goals and aspirations." -CofC Honors Student, Ellie Flock
Admission into the Honors College requires an exceptional high school transcript, excellent written expression, involvement in his or her local community and strong standardized test scores. Unequivocally, the most important aspect of an application to the Honors College is the high school transcript. Students admitted to Honors have excelled in the most rigorous courses available to them, and have maintained a standard of excellence throughout their secondary school experience. Admission to Honors does not require a specific GPA, though the majority of students accepted have earned A’s in most of their schoolwork. Additionally, the Honors College partners with regional admissions representatives to provide a contextual reading for your transcripts and try to understand the type of environment you have experienced thus far.
Standardized testing is a component of the assessment process, though not the most important one. To our committee, strong SAT or ACT scores when presented with an applicant who submits a stellar transcript, a clear and concise writing sample, authentic and persuasive letters of recommendation and a compelling resume are simply a confirmation of that student’s potential. However, those same strong test scores in conjunction with an otherwise mediocre application are not as compelling. We encourage all students interested in the Honors College to apply, regardless of SAT or ACT score, as we recognize these tests may not represent some of the most valuable qualities (inquisitiveness, passion, hard work) that translate to success in a classroom environment. That being said, the SAT average for the Fall 2017 entering class is 1337, and the ACT average is 29.4. Additionally, the average accepted student has an 'A' average and is in the top 10% of their class.
Last modified on July 19, 2017 by crbailey