College applications include basic information about the applicant such as their school, family, grade point average (GPA), standardized tests, extracurriculars and any awards earned in high school. Another important component to these applications is the main essay, or possible supplemental essays, that most colleges mandate in their applications. Depending on what the college focuses on in their applicant pool, according to PrepScholar, some colleges have a criteria for automatic admission so if an applicant meets the criteria then they do not have to submit an essay. For example, at the University of Texas at Austin they automatically admit the applicants that are in the top 10% of their class. This method of accepting applicants doesn’t help show the whole picture of an applicant and can harm the application process, so essays should still be required to prevent this.
While the removal of essays altogether is used by some schools, doing this doesn’t test the fit of the applicant at the college; it just tests their intellectual ability. Essays serve to showcase an applicant’s personality since their intellectual ability is already seen through their resume. An applicant’s emotional intelligence and desire to go to a school for more than prestige or safety shows that they will perform better than their counterparts who are trying to get through four years of hard work with no love for a school. If a student has the grit to do well in school despite what life presents them with, then it’s a better predictor of their success compared to their intelligence quotient (IQ).
Essays can change the mind of the admission’s office about an applicant since it showcases life events that may have impacted what they see on a transcript or a lack in parts of the information. If an applicant’s transcript isn’t as competitive for the school they’re applying to, their essays can show how successful their writing is in how they convey their message which is an attribute that admission officers value. Depending on how much weight an essay holds in a school’s application process, the ability to explain a situation that affected how an applicant performed in school can help admission officers understand what an applicant dealt with and how it affected their transcript. Additionally, the experiences and personality of the applicant shown in the essay can set them apart from their peers. Once colleges can see how an applicant persevered through a hard time in their life but still managed to perform in school, it gives them an edge over some of their peers. Thus, if essays were taken out of the application process for more schools, then they would see a decline in success of students with purely high IQs at their schools.
While some might say that essays aren’t needed in an application since grades are what’s measured in high school and college, IQ isn’t a measure of how a student will succeed at a school. However, this creates a rise in applications for non-essay schools because students will only apply since it didn’t take a lot of effort to do so. Thus, if these kids get accepted then they will have not cared much about the school and might not perform as well as they would at a different institution. This method of college admissions can harm how well students at the university perform and care about the school which also harms students who couldn’t explain their outside circumstances to the officers.
Essays showcase important qualities of an applicant that can make or break their application. Keeping the requirement of college essays is vital to give every student an equal chance and show their voice and personality beyond their grades.