Surprisingly, some applicants never care to ask this question, and they write essays that don’t enhance their applications. Understanding the purpose of the college application essay will help you to understand how to tailor it to appeal to your audience.
Are you attempting to explain why you switched schools mid-year? Why your grades dropped? Why you were suspended? Why you didn’t participate in any after-school activities?
Was it because you had terrible teachers? Was there family drama? Did you not get along with administrators? Did none of the sports or clubs interest you?
The thing about “brutal honesty” is that honesty is subjective, and it implies that your take on events is the accurate one.
I don’t know if this crazy, ultra-competitive, super-stressful bubble will burst anytime soon. In the meantime, you are in the middle of applying to colleges, and you want to put your best foot forward. The best way to do that is by writing an outstanding college essay. If you’re a competitive candidate, you’re also up against equally deserving competitive candidates.
The college essay is the only part of your application where you don’t have to be perfect on paper--you can let your guard down a bit and show that you’re a human being. That being said, this is the time to learn how to do this because you want to give this your best shot.
An applicant requested my answer to this question the other day:
"Most college admission counselors ask that you not write an admissions essay on things "you think they want to hear." What exactly do they not want to hear?"
I get this question often, and the answer stems from understanding why you are asked to submit an application essay or series to begin with.