Are college essays mandatory for all colleges?
And does each college have a specific topic for you to write?
Not every college requires essays, but you should hope that that the ones you’d consider attending require them. Those that do require them will usually specify 1 or 2 topics that you can write about.
The essay is the most important part of the application process. It can give you an edge over someone with a higher GPA than you, or it can pull you down below someone who has a lower GPA than you. This is because admission counselors know that statistics on a paper can’t always tell who will be successful in college. For example, suppose applicant A got straight A’s but didn’t have any extracurricular activities (since he studied night and day). applicant B, on the other hand, has a B+ average, but was on the Academic Decat. team, chess club president, etc. Maybe applicant B is gifted and is bored in the classroom (and so, didn’t put much effort in his grades). An essay on why each applicant wants to go to that college could bring into light more information than mere grades.
Admission counselors would love to meet with every applicant, but they can’t always do so. The secret is that they use the essay in place of the interview. My admission counselor remembered my essay.
Colleges are interested in finding students who will make it through graduation. In addition, colleges might look for a certain type of individual. For example, my college is community-service oriented. They want students who will go out and change the world. And when they do, they will get news coverage and bring honor to the school.
The colleges that don’t require essays go strictly off your merits (grades, etc.). If you are looking for this type of school, your grades must be impeccable. After all, they are probably being overwhelmed with so many applicants that they don’t have time to read essays.