Those in the know provide college essay tips

Nov. 1 application deadline looms for the Class of 2020


Cathedran file photo

Director of counseling Mr. Duane Emery met with seniors during the college boot camp last August. He provided information about summer school this June.

Megaphone Staff

With November right around the corner, some seniors are hurrying to finish the application process as the Nov. 1 early action deadline is almost here.

For those who are waiting to the regular decision deadline, there is still some time left to clean up those essays and college questions and even take another ACT or SAT.

Most seniors by this time during the year are familiar with the common application, the form that holds arguably the most important piece of writing, the Common Application essay. This piece of writing gives you a chance to show off to the college who you really are outside of your test scores. 

The essay has seven prompts with the last prompt being an essay where you choose the topic to write about.

College counselor Mr. Terry Knaus said, “Don’t write anything you don’t feel comfortable with. Also don’t go into the gory details that would make the person reading it uncomfortable.”

He added that while writing the essay you don’t want to seem arrogant and narcissistic, but you also need to boost yourself up and show your accomplishments.

Mrs. Whitney Ramsay, a director of admissions at Butler University, gave her own advice about the essay process. “One thing that always stands out to us is humor. If you’re humorous, try it, because humor catches the eyes of the admissions officers.”

She also stressed the fact that you do not let your parents write the essay for you. Admissions officers, she noted, are always aware when it seems as if the essay is not coming directly from the student.

Knaus added to that, saying, “You fill out your application. Take ownership in it and make it your application.”

English teacher Mrs. Nancy Wheeler said she believes an important part of the essay is making sure that it is not boring to read. She said, “Think of how many people apply to IU. Do you really think they’re going to spend 30 minutes reading your essay? You’ve got three seconds to grab their attention.” For several summers, Wheeler has volunteered at the school’s annual College Boot Camp, sessions that take place just before the start of the school year and included the chance for rising seniors to review their college essays with English teachers. 

Wheeler also mentioned that most essays are typically around four paragraphs, which is about 50 to 600 words. In addition, she added, at least three individuals should proofread your essay because people you trust can help improve your essay and make it better.

Ramsay also noted the need to proofread closely and carefully. During a phone interview, she noted the number of times that a student’s essay incorrectly includes the name of a college other than Butler, suggesting that student had written the essay for another school. 

If nothing else, make sure to present your true and honest self. As Ramsay says, the college admissions essay serves as the  “student seat to the admissions table.”

Editor’s note: This is a compilation of stories written by students enrolled in the alpha period journalistic writing class, including Sally Bradshaw, Ella Bundy, Claire Cady, Nya Huff, Milani Kimble, Foster Lee and Ale Mendoza.