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College admission committees want to know who is getting into their college. It is just like anything else. You want to know who is coming to your house. Right?
GPAs and test scores helps them determine how well you are doing academically and the probability of how well you will do in college, but they also want to get to know you beyond that. They want to learn your character, your interests, like, how you spend your time outside of the classroom, how you would deal with a challenge, etc. They are interested in getting to know your personality and the life experiences you may have had up until this point. They also want to learn why you are interested in going to their college. They want to learn from your teachers or counselors their perspective on who you are as a student and human being. They can’t get all that information from numbers: GPA and test scores.
Admission to top colleges is ultra-competitive. They are many, many qualified students who are applying to top colleges—from all around the world. Colleges do not have spots for all of them. Many students have excellent grades and test scores—some perfect grades and test scores. So they have to use qualitative measures such as essays, projects and letters of recommendations to make distinctions among the many excellent candidates.
In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.
A perfect essay appeals to both systems. Here are two steps to write your perfect college essay.
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You put in the hard work and have the grades and SAT/ACT scores to get into your dream college. So do tens of thousands of students from all over the world! How do you stand out?
The admission committee decisions and their processes are not in your control. You cannot change them. But you can stand out and influence them by using your personal statement to shine and demonstrate the value you will bring to the college.
The key word is 'value'. It is not about your awesome grades and scores. That is a given and is used to filter out candidates. You have to figure out ways to stand out and get in. One way is take the subject SAT and demonstrate your interest in your field (assuming you know that). Another way is to write a great personal statement. We suggest you do both.
How do you communicate your value?