If you’ve got the impression that these two questions are filters, they are. You have a maximum of 1100 words for the two essays, combined.
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Vivek: I had applied to Harvard and Wharton in the first round. I had listed down 15 top schools after referring down to rankings such as US News and Financial Times. I then listed down the strengths of the schools like Wharton was finance, Harvard is about General Management. I visited the schools’ websites and went through School Guidebook by one of the GMAT preparation companies. I then spoke to the alums and students from these schools. I finally arrived at a list of top 6 schools and made my choice: H , S and W in the first round and Kellogg , Booth and Columbia in the second round.
Your test scores and grades may be good, but so are those of many other applicants. In fact, the average scores at many of the top institutions in the nation are remarkably high. Because of that, plus the fact that some colleges no longer even require standardized test scores, the admissions landscape has changed drastically for college applicants in the past decade. Today, college application essays have become the most influential component of the application process in many ways. Your college admissions essays are your best opportunity to communicate directly with the admissions officials, who look to college essays to find reasons to select one candidate over another. When you’re reviewing files from two candidates with equally impressive scores and grades, and you only have room for one, you have to use something to make your decision. That’s where essays come in.