Do 2-3 sentences change essay readers’ point of view?

By Maxine Seya

Do two or three sentences in an essay change the reader’s point of view, especially applying to Ivies and other top schools?

- Sundar, a student in California

Yes and no. Even if everything else on your application was impeccable, a two- to three-sentence blunder in your essay, can move you from the admit pile to the reject pile. However, on the other hand, if your application was already weak, two or three Pulitzer-worthy sentences in your essay probably won’t give you a leg up. That said, if everything else in your application is solid, three extremely positive sentences in your teacher recommendation letter can make a difference.


With acceptance rates at top schools being so low, many of their admissions officers have fewer than three minutes to review the entire application that you spent months working on. Recently, admissions officer Henry Whipple of top liberal arts college, Whitman College, confirmed that he gets only three to four minutes to evaluate an entire application.

Therefore, just two or three sentences of mistakes, though seemingly trivial, can stop an admissions officer from rooting for you.

  • You say you’re excited to apply for engineering, but the school doesn’t offer an engineering major.
  • You say you’re excited to be in a metropolis like New York when you applied to Cornell, a school in the country, four hours away from any major city.

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.