Please closely review the following to guarantee your application is strong.
- Answer all aspects of each prompt. This is the first question reviewers ask themselves - did the essay address each component of the prompt? No matter how well-written an essay may be, if the applicant does not address all of the prompt, they will not be recommended for admission.
- Write cleanly and professionally. Consider how humor or sarcasm might be interpreted. Resist the temptation to overuse the thesaurus to bolster vocabulary. Sometimes fewer syllables in a word are better and more straightforward. Proofread. Perfect grammar is not expected, but neither are typos.
- Thoughtfully consider the audience. Although the reviewers are current students, they are not looking for the most creative or most entertaining essays. They want to find peers who share a common interest in motivation, engagement and an academic focus that comes through clearly in their writing.
- Be genuine. The reviewers also know how to identify superficial and vague content. They can pinpoint when a writer may be embellishing their accomplishments or interests. And they can tell when an essay has been repurposed from another application, with a few sentences geared towards the Honors prompts tacked onto the end.
- Utilize space wisely. There are word limits for each essay. Writers should aim to maximize that space to talk about themselves and how they are situated to the essay prompt. Think carefully and intentionally when opting to write about relatives’ experiences, dictionary definitions and/or quotes by famous people. By focusing on something other than the applicant in the essays, the reviewers have far fewer relevant words on which to evaluate the applicant.
- The purpose of this essay is to learn why the applicant is specifically interested in the Honors Program. The reviewers are looking for evidence that the applicant has done some research into the Honors Program and has considered why the program would be a valuable component of their undergraduate education.
- This essay is meant to be forward-facing. Applicants are prompted to look at where they are going, not where they have been. Resist the temptation to drop multiple references to high school activities and accomplishments unless they are directly relevant to addressing this prompt.
- Make sure to address why being in this program is important in reaching academic goals. Think of it this way - if you could accomplish something on your own, why would you need the Honors Program to do it?
- Only write about one activity that has been significantly meaningful. Don’t stray too far from the information requested. Applicants tend to drop references to additional activities - don’t do it.
- Similarly, the reviewers are not looking for a strict resume review. They are looking for the thought processes behind an applicant’s choices and how the applicant views the importance and meaning behind the activity.
- Community service is a very popular topic, but it is rarely addressed as meaningfully as an applicant may have intended. There are many activities that can be meaningful and enriching outside of the classroom, and the reviewers are not looking for any particular type of activity. Select the one that can be presented thoughtfully, the one that truly made a difference to the applicant.
- Note that making a difference or impact on an applicant does not have to equal “changed my life forever.” Avoid the use of cliches which are poor substitutes for substance and value.