Your grades and extracurricular activities are good, teachers gave you stellar references, but what about the other 10,000 applicants with similar credentials?
A carefully crafted universityapplication essay can tip the balance in your favor if you have somehow landed yourself in the admissions officer’s ‘maybe’ pile. Here’s what you shouldn’t do with your application essay if you want your application to move closer to the ‘definite yes’ pile rather than the recycling bin.
1) Exaggerate, exaggerate and exaggerate
Did you used to play a sport for your country or your county? It’s only a letter’s difference after all, but "oops, I made a typo" is not going to cut it if you get found out. By all means, be proud of your achievements and talk about your experiences openly, but if you feel the need to stray from the absolute truth, then don’t blame me if admissions officers use a little invention called Google to verify any ‘reality embellishments’, otherwise known as lies.
2) Clichés are your new best friends
Delete anything resembling the following sentences from your essay:
- “And that was the most important lesson of all.”
- “That is what makes me the person I am today.”
All very cute if you’re five, and just discovered that Santa Claus is not… never mind.
Admissions officers have to sift through thousands of applications a year. An application essay should bring your unique personality to life; do you want to be known as cliché number 736 of the day or as someone with more to offer than an overused turn of phrase?
3) Spell checks are for (whimps) wimps
Spelling errors simply scream ‘lack of attention to detail’ or ‘I don’t care about this university enough to get this proof read’ to an admissions officer. Now which one is it? No matter how many times you’ve read your own application essay over, you will not be able to spot a mistake as easily as a fresh pair of eyes. Ask a friend to triple check before you click ‘send’. Trust me, your future is worth the hassle.
4) Google search “Best university application essay template”
Believe it or not, there are programs which can detect the faintest bit of plagiarism and admissions officers already know about all the ‘cheating the application essay’-type websites out there. If you wanted to take a shortcut by simply filling out a tried and tested template (bear in mind, this will probably cost you financially as well as your chances of admission), then be my guest, but don’t be surprised when the thin envelope of rejection comes through the door.
A bit of pressure can be good to make sure you’re taking the process seriously but don’t procrastinate until the last minute just so you can ‘feel the adrenaline’. You’re taking a big gamble and may end up panicking and writing something ridiculous, or worse, you could be selling yourself short.
Below are essay prompts for the 2018 Common Application and the Coalition Application. Both first-time college students (future freshmen) and transfer students use either the Common Application or the Coalition Application to apply to Purdue. For 2018 enrollment, these applications will be available in early August 2017.
Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.