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Yale's Admissions Office Reveals the Secrets of Writing a Great College Essay

September 13, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Essays, Admissions Officers, Yale, Podcast


Yale’s Admissions Office did an eye-opening series of podcasts last month on what really goes on in the admissions committee when acceptance/rejection decisions are being made.

The most frequently covered topic in this series?

Essays, with half of all episodes dedicated to them.

Let’s analyze why that is the case, and what makes essays such a critical (and often misused) component of the application.

1. What makes essays so important?

Here’s an excerpt from the Yale Admissions Office’s 6/11/20 podcast:

"Essays are one of the first things that we see in the application. It's not the first piece, we are going to get some information on where you go to school, we'll probably see what your courses look like. We will see what activities you're involved in. And then we go straight to the essay.

We love essays because [they] introduce[] us to those folks... So, by all means, the essays as you say are the first impressions ...

It's like the opening scenes of a movie or the first page in a book, it sets the table not only for the rest of the movie, or the book, but in the case of these essays, it often sets the table for the person we meet.”

2. What makes for a great essay?

In that same podcast episode, the Yale Admissions Officers explain what the best essays all have in common across the 1,000’s of essays they’ve read:

“For most students, the greatest sort of effect that [the essay] can have is in tying the pieces together, drawing together the other parts of the application where we feel like you know what, I'm meeting the same person consistently throughout here.

So think of it as a kind of piece of glue that's going to bind together the other parts of the application.”

Being able to tell this story and capture the uniqueness of your candidacy is incredibly important for the overall strength of your application — it’s the "glue" that holds together your case for admission.

But yes, this can be a difficult task for high school students who have never had to write this sort of essay before, which is why it’s one of the key things that we have our mentors prioritize when advising students.

3. Why are essays the best place to “make or break” your application?

The essays collectively comprise the part of your application that you have the most control over as a senior in high school. As the podcast continues to explain:

“Honestly, when you get to fall of your senior year of high school, and you're starting to put together your college applications, most of the work is done.

You've got three years of high school grades behind you, you've put in hours to your extracurricular pursuits, you've made positive relationships with teachers...

The essays are your big task right now when it comes to actually putting together that college application. So appreciate the fact that this is something that's in your control.”

If you want Ivy League students who've successfully gone through this daunting process themselves to help you strengthen your own essays, click here to see some of the services that we offer for 1-on-1 mentorship.

Free College Essay Dashboard for Students, Parents, and Counselors

September 12, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | College Essay Dashboard, Technology, Services, Veritas Essays


"For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” - Benjamin Franklin

“The only difference between a mob and a trained army is organization." - President Calvin Coolidge

The simplest and most important step for making the college application process less stressful is to stay organized .

Thankfully, we've made that goal significantly easier to achieve with our newly upgraded and free College Essay Management Dashboard .

It can help you stay on top of your college essays and take the stress out of applying to college:

The Dashboard comes with 3 key features to help you write your college application essays:

1. Curated Database

Our Dashboard comes pre-filled with all 850+ Common App, 150+ Coalition App, ApplyTexas, and UC schools’ deadlines and prompts for 2020–21 .

This makes it simple for you to stay organized and personalize your Dashboard for whatever schools you are applying to.

2. Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and PDF Integration.

Our cloud platform gives you a centralized place to store all of your essays, regardless of where you wrote them.

3. Track Multiple Drafts

Our platform provides a clean interface for quickly viewing all of your application drafts and assessing where you are in your application process.

Click here to learn more about the Dashboard and its many features!

COVID and College Admissions: What Admissions Officers Have to Say

September 10, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | COVID, Common App, Essays, Admissions, Admissions Officers


Over 300 Admissions Deans published an open letter in June detailing the most significant ways that they see college admissions changing because of COVID-19.

Here is a brief summary of 5 key takeaways.

1. Increased Community Service Expectations

It sounds like volunteer work will be more highly valued/expected this cycle for students who are in a position to help others.

Here is the exact wording that the admissions officers use in their letter:

We value contributions to one’s communities for those who are in a position to provide these contributions.

We recognize that while many students are not in this position because of stresses and demands, other students are looking for opportunities to be engaged and make a difference.

This pandemic has created a huge array of needs, whether for tutoring, contact tracing, support for senior citizens, or assistance with food delivery. We view responding to these needs as one valuable way that students can spend their time during this pandemic.

We also value forms of contribution that are unrelated to this pandemic, such as working to register voters, protect the environment, combat racial injustice and inequities, or stop online harassment among peers.

2. Decreased Extracurricular/Summer Activities Expectations

Here is what the admissions deans have to say about extracurricular activities affected by COVID-19:

No student will be disadvantaged for not engaging in extracurricular activities during this time.

We also understand that many plans for summer have been impacted by this pandemic, and students will not be disadvantaged for lost possibilities for involvement. Potential internship opportunities, summer jobs, camp experiences, classes, and other types of meaningful engagement have been cancelled or altered.

3. Increased Emphasis on “Family Contributions”

Contributing to your family, whether that is working a job or caring for a relative, also counts as a form of service.

If you have spent a significant amount of time providing for your family, then you should make sure this comes across in your application and doesn’t get overlooked by your admissions reader.

Here’s what the admissions deans have to say:

Far too often there is a misperception that high-profile, brief forms of service tend to “count” in admissions while family contributions—which are often deeper and more time-consuming and demanding—do not.

Many students may be supervising younger siblings, for example, or caring for sick relatives or working to provide family income, and we recognize that these responsibilities may have increased during these times.

We view substantial family contributions as very important, and we encourage students to report them in their applications. It will only positively impact the review of their application.

4. SAT/ACT Test Optional

Many schools have gone ACT/SAT optional. Here is the official statement from Princeton’s Admissions Office:

Though standardized tests results will not be required for the 2020-21 cycle for an application to be considered complete, we still value these results and will evaluate them within the context of our holistic review. However, if you do not submit standardized testing, you will not be at a disadvantage.

And here is MIT’s :

Updated requirements. We will not require either the SAT or the ACT from first-year or transfer applicants applying this cycle…Students who do not submit SAT/ACT scores will not have any negative inferences be drawn from their absence.

5. New COVID-19 Essay on the Common App

The Common App added an optional 250-word prompt for students to use to shed light on how the pandemic has affected them.

Because this prompt is separate from the Personal Statement, it is strongly suggested that your primary Personal Statement essay not focus on the pandemic, something that we stress to the students we mentor while helping them develop strong Personal Statements.