Some graduate programs receive dozens and even hundreds of applications - many from students with stellar qualifications. How does one choose among many applicants who are very similar to one another? Look to an applicant's own words. The admissions essay is an opportunity for applicants to stand out.
Here's what the admissions committee considers when reading an applicant's admissions essay:
- How well does the applicant address the assigned question?
- If no specific topic is assigned, how well does the applicant manage the ambiguous assignment and construct an essay that is relevant and informative?
- How well does the applicant write?
- Does the applicant attend to details, such as spelling and presentation?
- Does the essay illustrate critical thinking?
- Does the applicant demonstrate abstract and complex reasoning?
- Is the essay appropriate? Is it too informal?
- Does the applicant reveal appropriate personal details and avoid sharing irrelevant and overly personal information (e.g., mental illness, childhood experiences, family tragedies, etc.)?
- Is the essay free of careless errors (e.g., listing the wrong school)?
- How well is the essay organized? Is it easy to read and to follow the author's ideas?