By: Michael Noltemeyer, North Star Editing
Writing an application is like being trapped in a choose-your-own-adventure story that someone else is reading: your fate lies in the hands of your audience.
Problem is, most applicants don’t understand what their audience wants.
I don’t make that claim lightly. Over the last ten years, I’ve read literally thousands of personal statements and statements of purpose and everything in between.
That’s why I’m confident when I say you’re probably making at least one of these three mistakes I see on almost every essay that comes my way.
Consider these figures from 2017:
Competition for Ivy League spots is so fierce that Harvard, Yale, and Stanford could each rescind their offers of admission to every student they have already accepted, choose another freshman class of the same size, and suffer no statistical drop-off.
In fact, they could probably do that...
By now you've no doubt read all about the college admissions scandal that has rocked higher education and cast doubt on the fairness of the process that students go through to get admitted to the top U.S. universities.
And, like most people, you're probably outraged by it. You can't believe the depths that people will go to to cheat the system. And if you're in the middle of the admissions process yourself, you're wondering if the deck is stacked against you to the point where you even have a legitimate chance at competing for a spot at your dream school.
Those are perfectly normal reactions, and I get it. Believe me, my inbox has been full these past few days from students asking what it means for them, and whether they should be concerned that the same thing may be happening at the graduate level as well.
(To that last point, Operation Varsity Blues only focused on uncovering schemes perpetrated at the undergraduate level. It's certainly possible that similar things could...
Tell me if this sounds familiar.
You've been studying like crazy for your standardized test (whether SAT, ACT, GMAT, or GRE), and you feel like you've brushed up on all of the key concepts that are supposedly tested. But then you go to take your first practice test (or worse, the real thing) and, uh-oh!, you encounter some questions that you simply haven't seen before.
Panic sets in, and you wonder whether all that preparation was for naught.
Now you're confused. What did I miss? Did my tutor / prep course steer me wrong? Do I need to seek out new books that may have some of these "missing" practice questions in them? Will I ever be able to get the score I need?
Truth be told, you probably haven't missed anything. I'm sure your prep course or tutor didn't overlook any major topics, and that book you've been studying from almost certainly includes all of the major content areas you can expect to see on test day.
So what went wrong?
More likely than not, you simply haven't...