Lawrenceville, N.J., February 8, 2007–With colleges receiving thousands of applications each year, it seems difficult for any one in particular to stand out from the masses. Yet achieving distinction is what one-third of prospective undergraduate college students try to do as they craft their application essays, according to a recent online poll by Peterson´s, a Nelnet company.

Only half as many of their polled graduate school-bound counterparts write specifically to stand out from the crowd. In fact, nearly half of those seeking entrance to graduate school write about a combination of 1) their goals, 2) what they think the school wants to hear and 3) to differentiate themselves. Conversely, one out of five prospective college students writes giving attention to each of these components.

A significant percentage of both prospective undergraduate and graduate students focus on writing to reflect on their goals in their admission essays; one-third and one-quarter, respectively, elect this emphasis as their primary tactic. Telling schools what they want to hear on the essay was the least popular tactic of both prospective undergraduate and graduate students–fewer than 15 percent of students in both groups admit making it their primary focus.

Complete poll results

When it comes to admission essays, you write:

Undergraduate
What the school wants to hear 14%
To reflect on your goals 32%
To stand out from the crowd 34%
A little bit of everything 20%
Total Respondents: 776

Graduate
What the school wants to hear 10%
To reflect on your goals 27%
To stand out from the crowd 17%
A little bit of everything 46%
Total Respondents: 481

Peterson´s, a Nelnet company, regularly surveys students online on important issues related to education and career planning. For more information, visit Petersons.com, a free, customizable online education planner for students. Petersons.com is designed to meet each individual user´s needs with best-of-the-Web search features, comparison tools and cutting-edge functionality. Additional planning resources include access to personalized calendars and checklists, RSS feeds, podcasts, scholarship searches and more.

About the Author:

eSchool News