Dear 100 Hour Board,
What advice do you have for the BYU application essays or the application in general?
-Your Little Sister
More than just GPA and test scores, I think what colleges really look for is a person who will contribute to their unique academic environment, both as a student and beyond, and who will take advantage of the opportunities that the school offers. Of course admissions goals will differ between schools, but I think BYU fits well into that principle.
So when writing application essays, which is your real chance to show your personality, you should be answering two major questions:
Why do you want to attend BYU?
Why would you be an asset to BYU?
There are numerous ways to answer those questions, but really focus on your specific situation and how BYU in particular would contribute to your overall goals. For example, in my application there was an essay question asking for us to elaborate on anything we wanted to include that hadn't come up elsewhere in the application. I discussed how when I was a teenager, there weren't really any other young women in my ward who were the same age as me, so I was really looking forward to being at BYU with lots of people who were in the same situation and had the same values as I did.
Now I'm sure that situation is far from unique among prospective BYU students, but it highlighted the fact that BYU would be special for me because I was eager to take advantage of the social and spiritual opportunities that are so prevalent at BYU, which is a major part of the college experience there. I wanted to attend for more reasons that just academics, and I would be an asset because I wanted to engage in and contribute to a unique college culture.
Be sincere in your reasoning, but choose to present the best of yourself. BYU looks at the application as a whole, not just the essays, so do your best to seem well-rounded throughout and eager to attend BYU specifically.
This might sound obvious, but make sure you don't have any spelling or grammar mistakes. I'm not sure what the BYU admissions people are looking for but I would avoid giving them an obvious reason to negatively judge you.
Dear Future Freshman of America (FFA),
Good luck on your application and your senior year of high school! Planning out your application now is very dedicated. I want to strongly agree with Sheebs' advice: read over your application for any spelling/grammatical errors. Too many errors will give off the appearance that you didn't edit your application and thus aren't taking it that seriously. Reading your essay out loud could help you spot subtle errors and fix weird phrasing. Ask a parent or mentor (like an English teacher) if they could read over your application to help catch errors and give you advice. A second perspective is always a good idea.
Another thing to keep in mind is "show, don't tell." The admissions board have never met you, so your essays are your first impression. Don't just say you're a naturally-curious individual. Give examples of your curiosity from your lived experience, and let that tell them about your positive traits. At the same time, avoid wasting space on too much description.
Also, double-check the application deadline to make sure it's submitted on time. My English teacher said that every year, someone forgets and there's really nothing you can do at that point. She had us all shoot for the priority deadline in December, which I think is good advice. Not only will your materials be more than prepared, but you'll have a better shot at getting in.
Again, best of luck, and let us know how things go next year! If you need someone to read over your essay and give more personal advice, you're welcome to email when the time comes. I'm an English major so I'm still learning, but I do have to write a lot of essays. No matter what college you go to, you're going to do great.