7 Things Admissions Officers Wants to See In Your Application Essay

Admissions officers can seem like distant mythical creatures who are impossible to impress. The truth is, they're just trying to find the right fit for their college as much as you are. And luckily, they escape their mystical perch every now & then to spill some insider info. They recently spoke to The Washington Post about what they're looking for. Check out the scoop:

Show Your Personality
"I look for beautiful, clear writing that comes to life on the essay page and offers insight into the character and personality of the student. Beware of being someone you are not in the essay." --Martha Blevins Allman, Wake Forest University dean of admissions

"Finding the right fit for you (not mom and dad) isn’t a cliche, so be yourself throughout the process. We’ll read right through you if you’re not. You can’t fake it during the admission process. If you do, you’ll end up at a college or university that’s a poor fit." --Ross R. Grippi II, Ohio Wesleyan University director of admission

Research The School
Essays can help an admission committee better understand the individual and how he or she will add to the campus community. They are also an opportunity for us to evaluate a student’s ability to communicate through the written format. The college application is an opportunity for the student to share his or her story and allows students the opportunity to add their voices to this process. We can get a glimpse into their personalities, and perhaps, learn something new about them, their backgrounds and experiences that doesn’t necessarily show up elsewhere in the application." --Tim Wolfe, College of William & Mary associate provost for enrollment and dean of admissions

"Applicants who are able to convey that they have spent their high school years exploring different classes, activities and opportunities immediately grab my attention. The most attractive applications ultimately grant me insight into the applicant’s passion, motivation and reasoning behind wanting to be at Drake." --Anthony Ferguson Jr., Drake University admissions counselor

Sound Like Yourself
It’s true that your voice is what we are looking for. When you write your college essay, use your authentic voice. If you’re a serious person, write your essay with a serious voice. If you’re a funny person, be funny. If you’re not a funny person, your college essay might not be the best place to try on that funny writer voice for the first time." --Ken Anselment, Lawrence University dean of admissions and financial aid

"The only thing colleges and universities have in common is that we are all different. The same can be said for the students who apply. Make sure the colleges know that. Tell your story. Some of my most memorable offers of admission have gone to students who like to color outside the lines." --Justin Rogers, Canisius College director of undergraduate admissions

Don't Forget to Brag
"The essay also matters; we want to see that you can write, what you write and what we can learn about you. We want to enroll students who will contribute to the life of the campus, so we are eager to see how you have contributed to your high-school community or the community in which you live." --Stefanie Niles, Dickinson College vice president for enrollment, marketing and communications

Address Problem Areas
"It is a pet peeve when we see an anomaly in grades and the student never addresses this. Tell us what happened and how you turned it around. This is a great way for us to see how you respond to setbacks." --Toni Riley, Illinois Institute of Technology director of undergraduate admission

Show Perseverance
"Whether reflected in the essay or the thoughtful confluence of the academic course load and extracurricular activities, a successful applicant should highlight an ability to overcome obstacles and garner results. It’s about proving you can produce outcomes, both on the part of the student and the university." --Anthony E. Jones, DePauw University vice president for enrollment management

Focus on Leadership
"I would rather a student tell me about the handful of clubs and activities they have been involved with and excelled in, rather than an exhaustive list of clubs they that they feigned interest in, kind-of-sort-of-one-day. This leaves students with little time to flourish in any one organization, or worse, theysuffer academically due to over-involvement. A student that has been a leader in one or two organizations will typically make for a better citizen on campus than a student who is already burned out before they even get to college." --Kaitlyn Botelho, Lasell College associate director of admission

"Think about your extracurricular contribution — community service, athletics, the arts and elected leadership. What are you good at and what do you care about deeply outside the classroom?" --Chris Hooker-Haring, Muhlenberg College vice president for enrollment management