What Should I Write in My College Essay?

Wed, 11/18/2015
Our counseling intern, Ms. Mulder.

Recently I decided to inteview Ms. Mulder to find out how to write a college application. Here is our interview: 

Na'im Muhammad: Ms. Mulder, regarding the Essay Workshop, how important is the essay in the college application process? 

Ms. Mulder: The essay is very important because it gives the College Admissions Officers the chance to know the student in a way that their GPA and their extra-curricular activities may not reflect. "So you may have straight A’s, but are you a good fit for this school?", "Maybe your grades aren’t so good but you do a lot of these other things you describe in your essay." The point is to get to know you better so the essay is very important. 

N: Have you ever selected students for a college? 

M: Have I ever selected students for a college?... No, I have not been an admissions officer at a college. 

N: What other services do Brooks students have at their disposal to help them write college application essays? 

M: We're running several workshops throughout the fall for essay writing, so were doing two this year and we're running a couple specifically for the Gates Scholarship, which you have to write a lot of essays for. The English Department helps with personal statements for your junior and senior years and the English teachers involved are also available to edit essays. 

N: How long on average should the college application essays be? 

M: It depends on the college; most colleges have word limits. A lot of them require 250 to 500 words, so they are usually not very long. 

N: What would be good topics for these essays? 

M: Again it depends on the college, for your personal statement you  may want to choose something that you have overcome, something you’ve learned about yourself and usually something about why you want to partake in the career or major you want to pursue. Colleges like to see that you’ve thought about that before you attend. It depends, some schools have specific essay questions, like the University of Chicago will often have a bunch of essay questions and you can choose which one you want to write about. 

N: What topics should you try to stay away from? 

M: You want to stay away from things that are too personal or too difficult to talk about, but you don’t want to get like “scary” personal where it’s too much or overwhelming; you want to stick with things that are meaningful but don’t make it seem like you have more problems than you actually have. In your personal essay, you also want to stay away from things that aren't true. 

N: Can we get a short biography of you? 

M: Uhm. Okay, I’ll just tell you a couple of things. I received my undergraduate at Albion College in Michigan. I also did a semester abroad at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. I am currently in the Master’s Program at Roosevelt University in school counseling. This is my first year at Brooks, I’m a student intern, so I am not an official school counselor yet. I’m going to graduate in May and then I will have my certification and my degrees so I can be a school counselor. 

N: Would you counsel here? 

M: I would love to, but it depends if there is a job available and if I get hired for it. If there is an opening I will definitely be pursuing that.