How to Successfully Pitch Yourself to a School

When it comes to the admission process, the majority of schools require their applicants to submit an admission essay (personal statement/motivation letter). The obvious purpose of this part of the application is to narrow down the circle of potential students and single out applicants who meet the admissions committee’s expectations. Is there some magic formula that may increase your chances and bring a whole stack of college acceptance letters right to your mailbox?

Unfortunately, (or fortunately), you cannot dig inside the head of members of the admission office to break the enrollment code and discover a concept of a perfect pitch. But what you can do is put your best foot forward and tell your story in the most palatable form. No idea how to do it? These nifty tips will nudge you in the right direction.

The Secrets of Pitching Yourself to a School

The vice president of enrollment at Denison University claims that “a poorly written essay can take an applicant out of the running, but conversely, a great essay can certainly help. A fantastic essay can absolutely give the applicant a bump up”. It’s hard to argue this idea given that Gregory Sneed, the author of this statement, has been working with students enrollment for a long time and has made certain conclusions about things that may both increase student’s chances and destroy them.

Does it mean that students should stand in awe of admission essays to start a college of their dream? Certainly not. Though this kind of essay is not a piece of cake and requires skills of self-presentation and some more tricks, you can put the following tips and techniques to use right away. No special training is needed, just the desire to succeed. Alternatively, you can get professional writing help from if you feel these recommendations are not enough.

Don’t wait too long to start preparation.

When it comes to enrollment preparation, there is no such thing as ‘too early.’ Whether you read this article while enjoying summer break or any other time – start preparing NOW. Make it this way:

  • Brainstorm ideas that you want to cover in your essay;

  • Formulate a coherent plan to arrange the facts of your story in the right order;

  • Jot down what the admissions committee should know about you;

  • Highlight your goals, passions, hobbies, and things you would like to explore after starting this particular college or university you are applying to.

Preparation, in the first place, means planning your writing and not the process of writing itself, so it can be done as early as you want. You will have a lot of time to think over everything. In case your goals or opinions change before application, you will have an opportunity to make corrections and to create an essay, including new ideas but sticking to a ready-made plan, not producing the whole thing from scratch.

Focus on your story, not on what is expected from you.

The students who face the enrollment process for the first time in their life often try to embellish their story even if there were more downs than ups as they think they would be accepted only being successful and promising applicants. In practice, things are different.

According to Gary Clark, director of the undergraduate admission at UCLA, the thing that college applicants are getting wrong is that they think that an over-crafted story is what the admissions committee seeks. He urges students to think less about what they think the committee wants to hear, and more about what they want to say. It doesn’t mean you have to enumerate all of your faults and failures deliberately, but you may show your growth through the perspective of your imperfection and the things you’ve learned from your mistakes.

Tell about your growth.

As was mentioned in the preceding paragraph, telling the story of your personal growth is an excellent way to pitch yourself. Why is that so? Think of a movie. Will the character who is a loser at the beginning and doesn’t learn anything by the end inspire you? Of course, he won’t. But the guy who came through a zero-to-hero path is the one who deserves respect and attention.

Whatever you mention in your essay – explain what it gave you. Have you worked as a camp counselor? Tell that you’ve built strong leadership skills and became more responsible because of that. Have you organized the collection of bottle caps to recycle them? Don’t forget to mention sharpening up your organizational and teamwork skills.

Final Thoughts

Trust your gut, but let others read your essay before applying it. The more people approve your essay, the higher is the chance that admission officers will also like it. Being genuine and authentic is what will make you stand out from the crowd of applicants (in a positive way). Tell the admission folks about your experience, aspirations, and goals, and most importantly – keep it simple!