Pro: Jackson Whiting
You can’t appreciate the amount of time that goes into the college application process until you have to go through it yourself. I am applying to five schools, and so far I can see I’m going to write at least six essays, not counting scholarship essays I might need to write.
The average application itself takes around an hour to an hour and a half. Put the essay on top of that, times five, and you are looking at a lot of hours dedicated to the application process.
That being said, I wouldn’t change the process at all. Some schools are starting to take away the essay and relying just on test scores and transcripts. North Carolina State University actually asks that students not send them an essay at all.
The biggest issue that arises with taking away the essay is that it’s very difficult to determine what a student will be like in a college setting based on numbers. The essays give students the opportunity to express themselves and show the admissions office who they are as a person, not a bunch of statistics.
Personally, I can’t tell you how blessed I am that my admissions process isn’t based on numbers alone. My test scores are decent, but not good enough to get me accepted into some of the more prestigious schools I want to go to. But with the essay, I get to tell them about the things that I do in the community that maybe wouldn’t show up on an application. I get to persuade the admissions representatives that I would be a great fit at their school. The application itself doesn’t give me an opportunity to express myself as a person — just a student.
However, even though I think all colleges should require essays, that does not mean that schools should rely on the essays exclusively when making admissions decisions. Students shouldn’t be accepted based on the essay they send in alone. There are students who could write an amazing essay who maybe didn’t work as hard through high school or whose test scores aren’t as high.
In an article written by Bev Taylor for the Ivy Coach, an Ivy league counselor blog, Taylor claims writing a powerful essay won’t happen overnight, but it is essential in the admissions process.
“A powerful essay will grab the admissions counselors’ attention and help them understand exactly who you are,” Taylor said. “A powerful essay could make your readers feel that they just had lunch with you. A powerful essay could be the one part of the application that gets you noticed, and as a result, gets you in.”
Like myself, many students are not great at taking tests. They stress themselves out, have trouble staying focused, and don’t prepare well enough. The essays are a chance to make up for poor test scores. In fact, according to former dean of admissions for Bates College, William Hiss, high test scores and success do not correlate.
“The human mind is simply so complex and so multifaceted and fluid, that trying to find a single measurement tool that will be reliable across the enormous populations of American students is simply a trip up a blind alley,” Hiss said. “I would never say the SATs and ACTs have no predictive value for anybody; they have predictive value for some people. We just don’t find them reliable cross populations.”
College essays aren’t going anywhere. Schools simply cannot judge an applicant on stats alone. To keep the level of prestige that colleges seek, they have to make sure a student truly is the best fit for the school. Test scores and GPA don’t tell how they will behave in a college environment.
Con: Dhuru Patel
The college application season was finally coming to an end. He had finally finished writing a document that would determine which way his future would lead. He had just sent an envelope containing the completed application to his dream school.
Applying to college is one of the most infamous parts of being a high school senior.
One after another, the college essays continue to multiply as you apply to more and more colleges. However, the worst part about them is the impact they can have on your acceptance to college.
A good essay isn’t enough to get you into a college, but a mediocre or bad essay could definitely keep you out.
In the past, colleges focused more heavily on grades, class rank and test scores. Now colleges take into consideration the character of the person applying, as well as their writing ability.
College essays give the admissions officers a glimpse into the personality of an individual. However, not all seniors can write a great essay that is both an accurate representation of them and follow the parameters set by the colleges.
Every person has his or her strengths and weaknesses. An individual could be very intelligent in a variety of academic topics, but a weak writer. In contrast, an individual could be weak at academics, but a superb writer. This factor makes it so that a college essay won’t be able to accurately represent the writer.
Some students spend hours per day to make sure they are quantitatively stronger than their peers. It would be unfair for a person that has worked so hard in school to be outshined by someone who wrote an amazing essay.
Colleges should try to focus mostly on an individual’s grades as well as how rigorous the courses he or she has taken. Some people are naturally good or bad at standardized tests; however, they still need to be weighed.
There are millions of college applications per year, and they have multiple essays along with them. So understandably, each college essay has a maximum word limit. To account for this, each applicant has to condense his or her information. Details will have to be left out and writing styles adapted to make sure everything fits within the word limit.
The cost of college applications isn’t too bad when only applying to one or two colleges. However, multiple college applications can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars in fees. Along with the monetary burden, multiple applications take up a lot of time. Fortunately, the Common Application and CFNC.org have helped cut down the time it takes.
“Secondly, there is no connection between those who can write strong personal narratives and those who can write what one is expected to produce in college,” Valerie Strauss, a writer for the Washington Post, said.
An individual’s ability to write about his or her own life has nothing to do with what he or she will be expected to write in college. Instead, past research papers or essays could be sent in to give the school an example of the applicant’s writing. Colleges should weigh the essay minimally. Grade point averages, test scores and extracurriculars are things they have devoted a lot of time to. Meanwhile, essays are something they have only spent a few hours on and include the efforts of the editors they may or may not have had. Essays don’t accurately portray someone’s own writing abilities, but instead show the combined work of a writer and editor(s) for a required assignment.