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Articles / Applying to College / Will "Love Letter" Improve Admission Chances?

Aug. 22, 2004

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.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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