Colby College’s website posted some sound advice regarding their application package. Here is an excerpt of the article Behind the Decision — What Not To Write.
1. Respect the word/character limits for the written responses. We have a lot to read and while we’re truly interested in your ideas, please stick to the prescribed space.
2. Be yourself. Don’t try to write what you think we want to read. The essay is our way of seeing your personality; we’re interested in who you actually are, as opposed to who you think we want you to be.
3. And in this same vein, write about what’s important to you. Any topic you can think up – well, we’ve probably read an essay about it. But having said that, please don’t write about your sex life. We’ve seen those essays from time to time, and in fact, they do stand out, but just don’t do this, OK?
4. Get to the point. This relates to #1, above. Right from the first sentence, you need to let us know what this essay is about. A subset of this concept relates to our Colby Supplemental essay, in which we ask you to choose one of five quotations and write about it with respect to yourself. At the end of the essay, it should be very clear to us which of those quotations you selected.
5. Put some effort into your “Why Colby” response. The most obvious point, and we make it over and over again in our presentations, is not to mention Bates or the Green Mountains of Vermont, etc. This would not exclude you from contention, but it’s not going to impress us either. Beyond that, do a little research and make sure you are specific to Colby. Mention your tour guide, or the visit to the Art Museum, or a specific course or two from the catalog, or something you read in inside Colby. Your reasons are important to us.
6. The more information you provide in the Optional section, the better. This is in fact optional information and we certainly do not hold it against you if you choose not to complete it. But the fact is: the more we know about you, the better decision we’ll be able to make. And the social security number is often used to match your SAT and/or ACT results with your application.
7. If you have something to explain, explain it. If you had a bad second semester in your sophomore year, tell us why. If you couldn’t take Physics because it wouldn’t fit in your schedule, let us know. If you had to change schools three times, let us know the story. If a tragedy has befallen your family, it might be helpful for us to take that into consideration, and you don’t need to make it an appeal for sympathy.
8. Presentation is important. Please please please preview your application before you hit the Submit button. I read an essay yesterday in which words were clumped together without spaces. Sometimes the paragraph breaks don’t make sense. You can see this before you submit, so you can take corrective action. Also, don’t rely entirely on Spell Check: homonyms can be your undoing. And don’t swear. We’re not prudes, but all the same you should use appropriate language. It’s part of being a grown up.
To read the article in full, click on the Link below.