Making Your Application Stand Out This Year
The test-optional decision has changed the application process for students and universities alike. If you were counting on SAT or ACT scores to help set yourself apart when applying to college, you’re not alone. However, at Georgia State, we take more into account than just your GPA and test scores.
Though submitting an essay and a recommendation letter are both optional, these materials help tell us more about who you are and why you’d make a great addition to the Panther Family. If you’re planning to submit an essay and/or a recommendation letter, good for you! There are a few things to keep in mind as you put them together.
If you’re preparing to write an essay for your Georgia State application, here are the prompts you can choose from:
- Some students have a background, identity, interest or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you faced a challenge, setback or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
- Discuss an accomplishment, event or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- Describe a topic, idea or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
- Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt or one of your own design.
As you can see, there’s room to be creative, make this essay your own and share with us something that feels uniquely “you.” We recommend that you spend less time writing what you think we want to hear and more time writing what you truly want to say. We also recommend that you:
- Stay between 250 and 650 words
- Maintain an appropriate voice
- Avoid humor that could be misinterpreted
- Proofread your punctuation
- Have at least one person double-check your work
- Reflect on what an experience meant to you instead of summarizing the experience
- Put genuine thought into the essay — don’t wait till an hour before the deadline to write your first draft
The Recommendation Letter
Your recommendation letter can come from a high school counselor, teacher or coach. We will not accept them from employers, friends or family members. However, homeschooled students may submit a recommendation letter from a parent. Choose somebody you feel knows you well academically and personally.
Here’s our Standard Letter of Recommendation form. You may either print the form and give it to your recommender or they can print it themselves. Once the form is completed and signed, your recommender can mail it to:
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
P.O. Box 4009
Atlanta, GA 30302-4009
Standing Out as an Honors Student
If you’re hoping to join the Honors College at Georgia State, the essay and recommendation are nearly essential for your application. We also heavily consider the academic rigor of your high school schedule. This means that the more AP/IB classes you’ve taken (and succeeded in!), the better. Our admissions team also values community service and extracurricular activities. Remember, you do not need to apply to the Honors College. You will be automatically considered upon applying to Georgia State. To learn more about the Honors College, check out our virtual info sessions!
Submitting college applications is daunting, but we’re here to help! Online events are the best way to connect with Georgia State and get all your questions answered. Check out the rest of our application tips, then when you’re ready, begin your Common App!