ODA Juniors Brainstorm for College


475 words. How do you produce the best writing you ever will in your life in just 475 words? How do you make yourself attractive to colleges in 475 words? Being restricted to three pages on an English paper about The Great Gatsby is hard enough, how are ODA juniors expected to produce their best writing piece of their lives in 475 words?

At the second junior college counseling seminar, ODA college counselors focused on teaching the juniors how to write the best Common Application essay. Each college admissions officer, on average, reads anywhere from 500 to 1,500 applications. ODA college counselors are focused on making ODA juniors look the most attractive to the colleges that they are applying to. But if each admissions officer will spends only around 15 minutes per application, what are the key items they look for?

Let’s say that a college admissions officer reads 500 applications non-stop. It would take them three weeks of eight hour days, spending 15 minutes on each application. This, as I’m sure is clear, is impossible, meaning that in reality, each college admissions officer spends at least a month and a half to review 500 applications.

This all leads to the question: what to the admissions officers look at thoroughly, and what do they just skim over?

ODA college counselors explained to juniors in their second college seminar that almost every college admissions officer will always look at your Common App essay to get an idea of who you are as a person, and as a writer. Being able to combine your best writing skills, grammar, and passion for what you are writing about is the key trait that admissions officers are looking for.

Many ODA juniors are worried about only having 475 words to produce what needs to be the best writing they have ever done in their lives.

“I’m OK with it, because it means I have to write less,” says Junior Kaitlyn Eckart. When asked about what Eckart would be writing about she said, “I can’t come up with a topic…and I don’t want to sound cliche.”

Alumni Caitlyn Turner commented on the Common App essay saying, “It gives the college a better look of who you are, where as your character is not showcased through your GPA and SAT scores.”

So juniors, when you are frantically writing your common app essay on Sunday night at midnight because it is due on Monday at school, remember the following:

  •  Make sure to write an accurate reflection of yourself
  • Be as thorough as possible, but don’t go over 475 words!