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Tips for a Great Application

Make your application stand out


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1. What has changed you?

Tell us how and/or why your most important activities (perhaps an AP physics project, a team captaincy or an inner-city tutoring project) have changed you. Tell us what you’ve learned from your experiences, not just what you’ve done.

2. What’s your history?

View the admission forms as the place to chronicle your family background, school history, activities, work experiences and other autobiographical information. Be clear, concise and detailed.

3. What inspires you?

Use the subjective questions and the essay to share aspects of your character and experience that may not be apparent from your courses and grades. In addition to your successes, tell us what you truly love to do, what inspires you and what is meaningful for you. The quality of your writing really counts here.

4. Meet us

Take the opportunity to have a personal interview.

Why interview?

We take the interview seriously.

The interview is our best chance to meet the person behind the credentials. Don’t worry, we won’t put you on the spot with trick questions. Instead, we want to hear about your goals, strengths and growth opportunities. We want to know what’s made you the person you are.


Give us your best

  1. Be prepared. Read The Searcher (viewbook), browse the website and have some questions ready. We’ll want to know what sparked your interest in Bates and what you believe the college will offer you as a student and as a human being.
  2. Be yourself. Qualities such as thoughtfulness, intellectual curiosity and humor are much admired — don’t be afraid to wonder out loud about your dreams and what your future may hold. Don’t assume that you must have “all the answers” to life’s big questions. Just be ready to share your ideas and questions in a thoughtful and articulate fashion.

Writing your essay

What’s the purpose of this essay?

We place a premium on strong writing. We look for mastery of the mechanics of writing (grammar, syntax and organization) as well as fluency and originality. Your essay reveals the caliber of your thinking and your readiness for a competitive liberal arts program.


Top Ten Tips for Writing the College Essay

1. Be yourself. Give us a window into your values and experiences. You know yourself best, so be honest.
2. Proofread your work! Misspelled words and grammatical errors don’t give a good first impression of your writing ability.
3. Stay focused. Don’t write a research paper. Write an essay with meaning, and tell us something about yourself that will help admission officers imagine how you might fit into the Bates community.
4. Grab our attention. Start with a great opener that catches the reader’s attention immediately. Make the admission officer want to read more about you.
5. Show us, don’t tell us. Use details to illustrate ideas and action words that bring your essay to life. Paint a picture that holds the reader’s attention.
6. Start now. Take time during the summer to begin brainstorming. Outline the framework of your essay. By the time the next school year begins, you should be almost finished.
7. Be original. We’ve seen plagiarized essays before, as well as the work of a parent, teacher or essay-writing professional. Don’t make that mistake.
8. Keep it simple. Don’t use words that sound overly sophisticated. Admission officers aren’t impressed by highfalutin language and vocabulary from the thesaurus. Tell us your story in your true voice.
9. Get feedback. Have a fresh pair of eyes give you some feedback. Don’t allow someone else to rewrite your essay, but do take advantage of others’ edits and opinions when they seem helpful.
10. Don’t stress out! Enjoy the process of reflecting on and writing about one aspect of your life that is meaningful to you. Know that most admission officers will enjoy reading your story.

Whether you’re just starting your college application process or nearing the end of it, find more advice from the Bates Admission team here.

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