College Essays

The two types of college-application essays

1. Personal Statement

Most universities now accept one of the following online applications:

These online applications have an essay section that is referred to as a personal statement. Several essay prompts are available for each application and the prompts vary between them. The personal statement is sent to all the universities to which you submit the application.

2. Supplemental Essays

Most universities require applicants to submit addition essays with their application. These are called the supplemental essays. The supplemental essays are often uploaded and submitted with the online applications noted above.

Universities create their own essay prompts, and, thus, they are different for each college. Some universities are known for unusual prompts (University of Chicago) but most ask standard questions. The nature of the essay prompts reveals in part what the college values. The length of the supplemental essays varies. Sometimes a word range is given (Princeton) but not always (Michigan).

Regardless of the prompts, every university is interested in your student's character, potential, and institutional fit. Essays that appeal to these items within a coherent framework will leave a strong impression on the admissions officer.

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