Essay writing tips

Writing the perfect application essay is stressful. We get it.  The good news is that we aren’t looking for perfection, so relax a bit and just be yourself when you write.

Obviously, good writing is important.  In fact, it probably isn’t a bad idea to dust off all those dos and don’ts of good essay writing you learned in school.  You’ll want to give yourself time to think about what you want to say in your essay, and proofreading is a must.  You might even want to have a friend look over one of your rough drafts.  Our point is that the purpose of the application essay goes beyond whether or not you followed a particular writing format perfectly.

This is all to say that your essay expands and adds to your application in a way that is much more important than a few “rules for writers.”  Reading your essay allows us to see how you reflect personally and deeply on a particular topic.  We also look for clues that reveal how much you really know about and understand  our academic program.  Most importantly, your essay can expose your genuine interest and desire in undertaking our unique and rigorous liberal arts curriculum.  These are all things that we would not be able to learn about you from simply reviewing your high school transcripts.

So what do we look for in an application essay?  We look to see if you write well and can reflect deeply on a topic.  We want to see if you have an appropriate understanding of St. John’s.  Most importantly, we want to see if you have a genuine desire to attend and participate in our unique academic program.  Ultimately, we hope to learn more about who you are.

We love reading your essays, and we hope this helps to give you a general idea of what we look for when we read them.  If you have other questions, though, please feel free to reach out to your counselor.  We are happy to talk with you about any concerns or questions you might have.


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