Deadlines, applications and essays – oh my!

by Sarah Gallagher Dvorak, Director of Undergraduate Admissions

Passing admissions staff in the halls of our office is quite the funny site these days. Their eyes are beginning to get that kind of googly orientation that all of us who have spent WAY too many hours staring at computer screens would appreciate. You see, Mason’s Scholarship and Honors College consideration deadline is today (December 1st!) and our staff has been cooped up reading application after application over the last month. Although it’s hard work, it’s one of the best parts of our job (especially when we get to admit the applicant!).

Amanda carefully reads essay...after essay...after essay...

 Most of us would probably say that reading the essay can be one of the best, and worst, moments during application reading. Perfecting that college essay isn’t easy and you’re probably hearing a million different pieces of advice about how to knock the socks off admissions committees all over the country – advice that’s often contradictory. Well, I’m just going to share one tip that will make you one of those applicants that puts a smile on our faces, rather than a snarl.

At least there's one smiling Derek at the desk!

Be yourself. You write the most wonderful essay about how brilliant your grandfather is and I may want to admit HIM, but it tells me nothing about you. Speak in your own voice. Tell me about what makes you unique. What makes you get out of bed every morning? What inspires you? What do you love? What kind of impact would you have on this campus? Try to move beyond the more cliché topics – regurgitated resumes, victories in sports, community service and achieving world peace, and laundry lists of characteristics about yourself. Whether or not you choose to write about these things, make sure you put personality into it. Make it a fun read…we’re humans. It’s like comparing the experience of reading a fun beach read with reading a textbook.

So, whether you’ve applied to Mason or are looking elsewhere, just keep these tips in mind.

Well, better get back to reading applications. If you’re a senior and haven’t applied yet, what are you waiting for? Submit your application (and amazing, fun, top-notch essay) now!

Happy essay writing and enjoy the holiday season!