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What Makes A Good Person Essay For College

The Inevitable College Essay Question: "Why Are You A Good Match?" appears on just about every college application. What are some things to keep in mind while answering this question?

Some of you will be making plans to visit colleges. Many of you will be doing web research on colleges and just about anyone applying to college will need to eventually answer an inevitable college essay question, "Why are you a good match?" 'Why are you a match' college essay questions generally have a limited word or character count and must be concise, clear and give admission officers insight about the applicant.

Here are a few tips to help:

1. Know the academic departments in which you are interested. These vary and set each college apart from one another. Find the uniqueness in faculty, course offerings and available resources. Understand what appeals to you and why you are applying. Why is a specific academic department a good fit for you, how can you reach your goals and be an asset? Do not answer the "WHY" question telling the readers what they already know about their college. Show them why you are a good match!

Be An Asset

2. Be clear about how you can contribute in meaningful ways. Perhaps you want to continue a project you worked on in high school or at a previous college. How will you integrate life on campus with events in the surrounding community? Admission officers like students who will contribute to life on campus and enrich their community.

3. The mission statement of each college is a unique statement that explains the basic philosophy of that school. Demonstrate an understanding of it and how it ties in with your beliefs. If you are a match for that college, it is important that you communicate that point.

Show Your Passion

4. Your sincerity and desire to attend that university must come through in your writing. If you plan on attending if admitted, say so, Demonstrate excitement about specifics about that college that appeal to you. Remember not to be vague and just mention generalities about reputation, faculty or yearly events. Your detail will show admission officers that you have carefully researched their college and are sincere about your intent to be part of their school. Use specific examples that demonstrate you understand what makes that college unique and why you are a good match. If you have visited, state that and don't tell them things they already know like that they have a great faculty or a beautiful campus.

5. Try to stay current and read the campus newspaper. Students are writing about hot topics and it's a great way to learn about the current events on campus. You should demonstrate your knowledge about what is going on outside the classroom as well as inside. Write about how you would like to be active on campus through clubs, organizations and internships. Your spirit should shine through so those reading your application will know you will add value to their college. Be explicit, sincere and detail oriented in your response and your essay will be more impressive

Following these essay tips will distinguish you from other applicants and help make you a strong candidate for the colleges where you choose to apply.

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The problem is that in a deluge of promising candidates, many remarkable students become indistinguishable from one another, at least on paper. It is incredibly difficult to choose whom to admit. Yet in the chaos of SAT scores, extracurriculars and recommendations, one quality is always irresistible in a candidate: kindness. It’s a trait that would be hard to pinpoint on applications even if colleges asked the right questions. Every so often, though, it can’t help shining through.

The most surprising indication of kindness I’ve ever come across in my admissions career came from a student who went to a large public school in New England. He was clearly bright, as evidenced by his class rank and teachers’ praise. He had a supportive recommendation from his college counselor and an impressive list of extracurriculars. Even with these qualifications, he might not have stood out. But one letter of recommendation caught my eye. It was from a school custodian.

Letters of recommendation are typically superfluous, written by people who the applicant thinks will impress a school. We regularly receive letters from former presidents, celebrities, trustee relatives and Olympic athletes. But they generally fail to provide us with another angle on who the student is, or could be as a member of our community.

This letter was different.

The custodian wrote that he was compelled to support this student’s candidacy because of his thoughtfulness. This young man was the only person in the school who knew the names of every member of the janitorial staff. He turned off lights in empty rooms, consistently thanked the hallway monitor each morning and tidied up after his peers even if nobody was watching. This student, the custodian wrote, had a refreshing respect for every person at the school, regardless of position, popularity or clout.

Over 15 years and 30,000 applications in my admissions career, I had never seen a recommendation from a school custodian. It gave us a window onto a student’s life in the moments when nothing “counted.” That student was admitted by unanimous vote of the admissions committee.

There are so many talented applicants and precious few spots. We know how painful this must be for students. As someone who was rejected by the school where I ended up as a director of admissions, I know firsthand how devastating the words “we regret to inform you” can be.

Until admissions committees figure out a way to effectively recognize the genuine but intangible personal qualities of applicants, we must rely on little things to make the difference. Sometimes an inappropriate email address is more telling than a personal essay. The way a student acts toward his parents on a campus tour can mean as much as a standardized test score. And, as I learned from that custodian, a sincere character evaluation from someone unexpected will mean more to us than any boilerplate recommendation from a former president or famous golfer.

Next year there might be a flood of custodian recommendations thanks to this essay. But if it means students will start paying as much attention to the people who clean their classrooms as they do to their principals and teachers, I’m happy to help start that trend.

Colleges should foster the growth of individuals who show promise not just in leadership and academics, but also in generosity of spirit. Since becoming a mom, I’ve also been looking at applications differently. I can’t help anticipating my son’s own dive into the college admissions frenzy 17 years from now.

Whether or not he even decides to go to college when the time is right, I want him to resemble a person thoughtful enough to return a granola bar, and gracious enough to respect every person in his community.

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