Crafting the perfect college essay for your application


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Is there such a thing as the perfect college application essay?

We asked that question to Rob Alexander, Dean of Admissions at the University of Rochester Thursday during News 8 at Sunrise.

Alexander said now is the time of year where many high school seniors are choosing colleges to apply to and crafting an essay as part of their application.

“More colleges than ever have moved away from using the standardized tests as a primary factor in the admissions process,” Alexander said. “So now it’s really down to a student’s grades and an assessment of their character. So what better way to tell your story than through that essay. I would say it’s increasingly important for students.”

So what about that notion of a perfect essay?

“I think the key is that there is no one perfect essay for everyone,” Alexander said. “But I think an individual student should think about what is really unique to their story. The best essays are ones that nobody else in that student’s class or school could have written exactly the same way.”

“So we want to get to those elements that make a student stand out a little bit and help us understand how they’ve learned and grown over the course of their life or the course of maybe their high school career,” Alexander said. “It may be somebody who made a big impact on them and how they’ve used some of those lessons they’ve learned and applied them to broader situations and how they’re going to apply them when they meet challenges on our campus.”

Many students feel pressure to get it right when it comes to their essays. Alexander offered his advice:

“I would tell them to think about the story elements that the admissions committee is going to get from the other pieces of their application,” Alexander said. “We’re going to see your transcripts. We’re going to hear from recommenders. But what elements that are important to you are going to be missing from those?”

“The essay is a chance to fill in that gap really effectively. So that’s where I would start as a prospective student, really thinking about this,” Alexander said. “Don’t think about what’s going to be most impressive. Don’t regurgitate what is already on your resume. Really try to think through something that is a specific story that you can tell that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, a gives us some takeaways, some lessons learned.”

Check out for a look at the application process at the University of Rochester.

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