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The Dreaded College Essay

Emily Okey on Thursday, 11 November 2010.

Imagine you’re sitting in a room from mid-November to mid-March and your task is to do nothing but read 60-80 applications a day. What would you want to read about?

That pretty much describes the admissions office during application time. If you were going to read millions of essays would you really want to hear about nothing other than how [insert famous person here] influenced your life? Probably not.

The essay seems to be the most dreaded portion of the application process (minus the wait, of course) so we’ll try to myth bust a little bit today.

First off, RIT has a few different essay options, you can either apply directly using an RIT application or online using the common application.

If you’re using the RIT one, here are some of the essay prompts:
State your reasons for aspiring to a career in your chosen area of academic interest.
Write a brief essay indicating your main reasons for applying to RIT.
Describe a significant experience or achievement that has special meaning to you.
Provide a copy of an essay you have already written for a school assignment (any subject).

Or, if you decided to go the common app route:
Write about a significant experience, achievement, risk or ethical dilemma
Describe an issue of personal, local, national, or global concern.
Write about a person who has influenced you

Things to keep in mind:
1. You’re not writing the next declaration of independence here. Keep it short. You don’t need a long drawn out intro paragraph but don’t forget to set your topic up in an interesting way.

2. Make your essay something people will want to finish. By that I mean, if you begin an essay “My mom is my greatest influence because...” it’s pretty clear how that one is going to end. Rather than starting off with a sentence like that, jump right into some engaging story or reason as to why she is the greatest person ever.

3. You don’t have to be an English major but you have teachers that are... so use them! Get a variety of people to look at your essay and make suggestions. I remember printing mine out and carrying it around for a day getting advice.

4. Use the correct school name!. “Dear [insert school other than RIT], your college is the right fit for me because blahblahblah...” Okay, great! We’d love for you to find a school with the right fit & it’s common knowledge that almost everyone applies to multiple places but be careful when you’re submitting essays that you include the right school in that particular one! If it helps you out, don’t include any school names it your essays (unless it’s needed).

5. Have fun with it. Your essay should be something you’re passionate about! Counselors can tell if you’re just writing something to sound super knowledgeable about that subject or if you’re really truly passionate about it. Look around online a little bit for ideas of possible essay prompts to use.

6. RELAX. The essay is not the end of the world. You do not need to go book last minute tickets to a third world country so that you can write some amazing story about saving the world. (If you’d like to do that in your free time, by all means go ahead)