What is the Most Important Part of the College Application?

Whether you submit a single application to just one college, or you submit dozens of college applications, you need to know how to complete each section. While some sections deal with your grades and extracurricular activities, others focus on the backgrounds of your parents. The most important part of the application is the essay that you write and submit. Most colleges give you a simple question and ask that you answer that question in 250 to 1,000 words, but some will let you write an essay on a given prompt. This simple essay is important for a number of reasons.

Following Directions

One reason the essay is so important is because it shows that you are capable of following directions. Far too many students start writing and don’t stop until they think they fully answered the question. Colleges place a maximum word count on these essays because those schools want to know that you can follow instructions and edit down your work in a compact way. Your essay also shows that you can effortlessly write on any topic without simply repeating the facts and figures you hear in your classes.

Commitment to the College

A common mistake that some students make is that they write one essay and use it for all their applications. This leads to some forgetting to make changes based on each college. They might write an essay about why they want to attend one school and send it to each campus without changing the name of the school. They also use the same facts, which may not relate to all schools. Writing a custom essay based on what you know and learn about each school shows that you have a commitment to each of those colleges.

Related resource: 50 Great Schools Where High School Students Can Get College Credit

Focuses on You

Writing a college essay lets you put the focus and attention back on you. Janine Robinson, an essay writing coach, encourages students to write about what they like and to write from their own perspectives without fibbing. Some students think that colleges look more favorably on students who went through traumas or had rough backgrounds, but lying in your essay can make the admissions counselor look up your name, find out that you lied and reject your application. The essay gives you the chance to talk about your career goals and the moments that mattered most in your life.

Covers Past Mistakes

One reason the essay is so important to those submitting college applications is because it lets you cover up any past mistakes you made. If you earned lower grades one year because you suffered from bullying or struggled with depression, use the essay to explain those low grades and to talk about how you conquered your problems and got your grades up again. You can use the essay to talk about other struggles or problems like how you dropped off a sports team because of an injury or quit taking part in an extracurricular activity because you suffered from an anxiety disorder.

The application that you submit to a college will ask about your high school class, ranking within your class, grade point average, extracurricular interests and even your parents. While all parts of college applications are important, the essay is the most important part because it helps counselors and reviewers learn more about you.