Will “Love Letter” Improve Admission Chances?

Question: I really want to attend Princeton because of its excellent international relations program and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and Foreign Service, and I’m planning on letting the admissions committee know that by attaching an additional essay. Is that a good idea?

This is certainly a good question, but whether or not it’s also a good idea depends largely on how successfully–or creatively–you can pull it off. In other words, can you write an essay that doesn’t sound like you’re regurgitating the Princeton Web site or viewbook? Can you present your reasons for aspiring to Woodrow Wilson in a way that won’t sound superficial or trite? Colleges do get a fair amount of these sorts of unsolicited affidavits or “love letters”–no, certainly not from the majority of candidates, but from a sufficient number to make admission folks fairly jaded or cynical about yet another “suck up” missive.

So, do go ahead and give it a shot. Or at least try a draft of your extra essay and then asked a parent, teacher, or trusted friend–whose opinion you value–to let you know if your statement seems genuine and meaningful and if it includes reasons why Woodrow Wilson is uniquely right for you. If you’re a good writer–and/or if your essay seems to come from your heart–it could work in your favor, though–chances are–if you’re admitted, it will mean that you were a very strong contender to begin with.