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Essay Purpose

Simply defined, the application essay is a self-portrait of you. It may be seen as a statement of personality, a personal viewpoint, an autobiographical picture, or an assessment of self. The essay offers the admissions committee a glimpse of the individual beyond the transcript and test results. Each applicant is special, possessing personality traits, strengths, and abilities. In the essay you can peel yourself off the blandness of application data and express your uniqueness.


When asked to define the purpose of the essay, admissions officers will state repeatedly that it functions as the “humanizing element” of the application.

  • “It gives us (the admissions committee) an inkling of what makes the student tick.”
  • “It helps us know the student better.”
  • “It allows us to understand what is significant to the applicant.”
  • “It is really our first impression of the student.”
  • “It provides an added dimension to the application.”
  • “It tells us something about the student’s values.”
  • “The essay shows off an enthusiasm for a particular idea or experience.”
  • “It is like having a personal conversation with the student.”