Of School Grades and Admission Essays
The value of a College Admission Essay or graduate school admission essay, as part of the college or graduate admissions process can never be over-emphasized. To validate the value of an admission essay or graduate school admission essay, let us look at the following illustration:
James and John are two good friends who share one common dream: to become doctors. James wants to specialize in pediatrics while John is bent on concentrating in orthopedic surgery. After finishing their respective pre-med undergraduate studies and armed with almost identical grade point averages, and also identical scores in the standardized admissions tests (SAT and MCAT) the two buddies decide to apply to the same Medical schools. In his Admission Essay, James decided to list and discuss his school experiences, including his extracurricular works and achievements. He has quite a lot since he has a number of relatives as well as close friends who are either working or used to work in various hospitals and clinics. Gaining the needed medical exposure proved quite easy for him. He wrote them all down, since he figured that the more experiences and accomplishments he could present, the better will be his chances of getting admitted.
John, on the other hand, took a slightly different approach. He realized that he will be stepping into a higher level of learning, where school grades may not be the only determining factor for admission. He believed that detailed and personal experiences will also count a lot. So in his Admission Essay, John listed and discussed two memorable accounts or experiences. He particularly mentioned his volunteer work in a housing facility for the aged in the outskirts of the city where he was exposed to the usual problems of many senior citizens in the physical as well as in the emotional realm of life.
John also cited in his Admission Essay his involvement in a suburban clinic near the university where he was then studying wherein he processed and prepared the medical documents of the clinic’s senior patients.
In both accounts, as listed down in his Admission Essay, John provided a comprehensive detail of the nature of his work, the particulars of the clinic he worked for, and the insights he was able to collate in the course of his work. He realized that compared to his good friend James, he had limited resources, both in finances and in contacts. So what he did is to present a lengthy and specific discussion of his personal background and the limited experiences that he was able to acquire given the restrictions that he faced then. John presented all these in painstaking detail, adding in a few of his own personal observations as well as the lessons that the experiences taught him.
When the results of the admissions exams was released including the Admission Essay, James and John discovered they had to go their separate ways. John was admitted to the medical school of his choice while James settled for his second choice.
What did the preceding illustration seek to imply? That high grades alone is not a guaranteed passport to admission in a college or university. This is especially true in this modern times wherein people in the academe are not impressed anymore with excellent grades and a high test score. They want more from a prospective candidate. Specifically, they want a background profile of the candidate, a look into his real self, his life and his goals, his experiences and the lessons that these gave him. The kind of information that can never be revealed by a high MCAT or GPA but can possibly be reflected in a Admission Essay.
But such information can only be provided by the applicant himself. This is where the Admission Essay will play a key role. This is where the candidate is requested to supply the data mentioned above and to supply them in clear and specific, and if possible, crisp and fresh, fashion.
Often, it is in this part of the admissions process, i.e., the Admission Essay, that could mean the difference between acceptance or rejection. Many applicants are like James. They possess a nonchalant attitude towards admission essays, thinking that it is not an integral part of the application process, or they feel over confident because they have the right grades and test scores. But the truth is, school officials take admissions essays quite seriously. And coming up with a detailed and clearly-defined admission essay is as valuable as performing well in the admissions test itself. An applicant should not separate one from the other. If he is wishing to gain access to the college or university of his choice then he should be aware of the fact that admission essays constitute a vital portion of the application process. As such, it should be taken seriously and given sufficient preparation in the same manner that one thoroughly prepares for the MCAT itself.