Thou shall pour thy heart and soul to thy essay

By: Jinsil V. Kim, M. Div. / C2 Education of McLean

During the college admission process, those students who are aim for the top tier colleges, they must understand that they only have one opportunity for offense in this academic competition, and the rest of their application play a role of defense. What do I mean by that? When you submit your application, the majority of the sections are dedicated to your numbers, such as your GPA, ACT, SAT, AP, SAT II, Extracurricular Activities and the number of years, etc. These are all great, but they often work as first round of defense system to your college admission officers ond why they should not drop your application in the first round of review. Once your application numbers can defend your position, then your are given the opportunity to speak directly to the admission officers by shooting your essay to their mind and their heart, and this is your only shot to convince them why they should choose you over the other candidates who have pretty much similar scores or competitiveness on their applications that survived the first round of cut.
In this one shot opportunity, your essay can either make your application go through the goal keeper and score or get bounced by the goal keeper. So who is the goal keeper? Of course, the admission officers, but more specifically, it is their mental defense system that is built upon many blocks of word ‘why?ʼ We need to remember that the admission rate of the top tier colleges in the U.S. is less than 10% according to Open Education Database(1)*, which means that their job in the majority of cases is to eliminate the 90 percent of the applications, not the other way around. Here is the list of Top Ten schools with the lowest admission rate:

Ten Schools With the Lowest Acceptance Rates
1. Stanford University with a 4.34% acceptance rate of the 47,498 applicants
2. Harvard University with a 4.92% acceptance rate of the 43,330 applicants
3. Columbia University with a 6.1% acceptance rate of the 36,250 applicants
4. Princeton University with a 6.5% acceptance rate of the 29,303 applicants
5. Yale University with a 6.9% acceptance rate of the 32,900 applicants
6. The Juilliard School with a 7.2% acceptance rate of the 2,597 applicants
7. The University of Chicago with a 7.9% acceptance rate of the 31,411 applicants
8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a 7.9% acceptance rate of the 19,020 applicants
9. California Institute of Technology with an 8% acceptance rate of the 6,800+ applicants
10. Brown University with a 9.3% acceptance rate of the 32,390 applicants(2)*

Considering the fact that youʼre likely to compete against very competitive candidates who have similar numbers or even higher numbers, you must use this once in a lifetime opportunity as your ball of fire! You must put your heart and soul to this process letting every word extract the best of You! I have seen many students who tend to repeat what is on their application on their essay, and that will not create the winnerʼs goal, because the admission officers already used that gas to move you to the second round. You need a new ball of fire to light that gas! You need to burn their heart with a strong desire that will conquer the wall of ‘Why.ʼ According to Columbus Business First, “emotions drive more than 80 percent of our decision making, while logic makes up the rest(3)*.” Therefore, if the first round of cut was more of a logical number decision, the final round is a decision that is heavily influenced by the emotion of the admission officers.

1. Source:,acceptance%20rate%20of%20under%2010%25
2. Source:
3. Source:

Ultimately, I believe it is important to identify your unique authentic self and sing ‘yourʼ song. What were some great challenges that you faced and overcame that made you and enabled you to be in this place to apply to these top colleges?
And do not be under this pressure to portray a perfect image of youself, but be willing to be vulnerable to share your journey to appeal to the officerʼs emotions. They are humans, too, and considering pain is the common denominator of life, they do also struggle with their lives and have the capacity to emphasize with your journey. Now, the only caveat to my recommendation would be letting your song/ essay be well-balanced and harmonious like making a beautiful song. There could be a forte, but you also need to add a piano, there could be some half note, eighth note, and whole note. To make your song and to sing your music, much time of self-reflection is needed, and every word of your application needs to carry an
intentional move that leads s to making this unforgettable song!

Latest from Instagram