NEW YORK, Oct. 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A Prompt.com review of thousands of college application essays has found that the average essay is C-plus level work. Unfortunately, most people don't know their essay is in bad shape. Colleges do not supply a reason for rejection, and grammar is the least of the problems. Almost everyone—even students with glitzy GPAs and test scores—struggles with their essays' content and structure.
There is good news: anyone can write an A-level application essay. The solution is to revise each essay two to three times based on feedback from application essay experts. Regrettably, many students do not seek essay feedback or are unable to afford it. This costs them their chances at their dream schools and thousands of dollars in scholarships to help them pay for college.
"The essay creates a significant barrier for underprivileged students," explains Brad Schiller, Co-founder and CEO of Prompt.com. "Wealthier students are able to access consultants or high school-based college counselors who have application essay expertise. This puts them at a significant advantage. Our mission is to level the playing field by making expert essay feedback accessible to everyone. That is why we provide every student with a free essay review and why we created at free tool to help students create outlines for their essays."
The study also investigates the reasons behind the poor scores. Over half of all students don't fully answer their essay's prompt, and nearly three-quarters of students write essays that lack direction and structure. Students also tend to write about topics that are not compelling or not relevant to a student's passions, personality, and hopes and dreams—topics that help admissions officers better understand each applicant. Most essays leave admissions officers to decipher the essay's meaning, thus leaving the admissions officer to attempt to understand an applicant in two minutes rather than the applicant controlling the admissions officer's thoughts at each moment of the essay.
The study further investigates the most effective Common Application essay topics. The highest scoring Common Application essay prompt to use is the first one, which asks students to describe their background or identity. Over half of applicants use it, and it averages nearly a full letter grade higher than the other prompts. Nearly any topic can be successful if it ties into what an applicant is passionate about or provides unique insight into an applicant's personality. For example, writing about community service is a great topic if the applicant devoted substantial time to serving others and if the applicant considers serving others as an integral part of his or her future plans. The same topic of community service can be ineffective if the experience is seen as superficial and doesn't relate to the applicant's ambitions.
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