Ithaca, New York, November 26, 2005

December 8, 2005

- see General Resources below).

With this vast number of applications, it was quite surprising when in February an admissions counselor from Duke University wrote in an acceptance letter to one of Ivy Coach’s students (two months earlier than expected) that she was very impressed about how the young man combined his passion for music with his dedication to community service. In four separate essays, without being too boastful or too shy, the student wrote about different aspects of his life, exhibiting his true passions. In a tightly woven fabric, by taking threads from each of his essays, he gave Duke’s admissions counselors a glimpse into his life and submitted an exceptional application, one that proved to be memorable.

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While some colleges ask you to write very general personal statements, often the choice of a topic is not entirely up to you since many applications have specific essay questions for you to answer.

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The best way to write the “Why College Essay” is to first take a campus tour, attend an information session, and sit in on a class. For some applicants the campus visit is not always possible, and so the next best place to learn about a college is from the school’s website and from the college’s literature or course catalogue. Again, this requires a great deal of time and some additional study and creativity. The answers aren’t going to just pop out, but once the applicant knows what to look for, he or she can write a credible and meaningful essay.

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It is essential that a “Why College Essay” is not in any way generic. Since most colleges only want to admit applicants who will ultimately enroll, if an applicant writes an essay in which it becomes apparent that the college is not a top choice, that applicant may very well not be admitted based upon a sheer lack of interest. Probably one of the most common sentences students tend to write in this type of essay is “from my campus visit I knew that this college is the perfect fit for me.” There is nothing specific here in this statement, and there is no reason for an admissions counselor to believe that the student would enroll if accepted. Generic sentences, and worse, a generic essay, can negate all the positive work that a student has accomplished and result in a rejection.

The Importance of the Essay in Gaining ..

So what are these essays? There’s always the personal statement, and usually the significant activity essay. Then some colleges ask for one about academic interests, or the intellectual experience. In addition, there could be an essay about your reaction to an honor code; the “tell us when you gained respect for diversity”; the person of significant influence; the song you would choose to sing in a talent show; the story of a street, real or imagined or metaphorical; the world you come from; the one issue that you would raise if you had an hour to meet with a government official; the values that you believe are important in fostering a cohesive, successful, and supportive campus community; a daily routine or tradition of yours that may seem ordinary to others but holds special meaning for you; the one accomplishment that you achieved in an unlikely way; or the letter to a future roommate. Then after writing three or four different essays, there’s yet another—there’s the my space essay, something you find fun and humorous, anything else you want to tell us, p. 217 of your 300-page autobiography, or the optional statement. All of these essays take considerable time and sometimes an extraordinary degree of imagination, creativity, and out-of-the-cube thinking.

All of these essays take considerable time ..

offers all users free access to over 100 admissions essays accepted by the United States' top undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. The following Sample Admissions Essays were accepted by Stern and NYU.