What if your ACET scores and HS grades are terrible? Do you have the personal qualities to justify getting in? What if your ACET scores and HS grades are sky high, but your essay comes off as pretentious or disappointingly weak? Wouldn't it raise doubts on whether you deserve a spot and whether your academic record is valid? It is in moments like these, and during the appeal process, that the essay comes into play, and for that reason we think it is a very important component of your application.
Anyways, here's a list of 3 ways we think you can best utilize and write your essay for your application:
1. Tell a story, one that talks about who you really are. And don't tell someone else's
Most applicants make the mistake of turning their essays not into stories, but into any of the following:
a) Self-glorification pieces
b) A pseudo-list of achievements
c) A persuasive essay/argument (please please please let me in!!)
d) Cliched stories about determination, hard work etc.
Don't do that. Seriously. It makes you look like a dweeb in front of the admissions staff, and it certainly isn't proper for a mature, young adult to be writing something similar. Instead, write in-depth about experiences that made you change your outlook towards life, or helped you realize things you never did before. And often, these things happen in the context of your everyday life, so don't be afraid to use those examples, just as long as you present them in a compelling and insightful manner.
2. Have someone read and edit your essay
When you finish writing your first draft, it's hard not to feel like its the most awesome clutter of words you have written, but don't fall for it, and let someone else read it first because chances are, you made a mistake or two with your grammar, and you may have emitted a certain tone in your essay that doesn't sit nicely with what an admissions office wants. Having another reader, two if possible, helps eliminate this risk.
3. Make your essay memorable
Ok, so not every one of us has exactly had a near-death experience, rose from extreme circumstances like starvation or walked 20 miles to school everyday. The vast majority of applicants lived regular lives with not a lot of scruff, but the Ateneo will be reading over 18,000 essays, so you at least have to write about something genuinely you, but at the same time non-standard. Perhaps you can give a different take on everyday experiences and tell the reader things even he or she would appreciate knowing, like how you view your daily commute to school, or how you learned to appreciate the value of acceptance from the story of Miley. Things like that.
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