Harvard admissions officials read every one of the 23,000 application essays they receive each year.
And Marlyn McGrath Lewis, admissions director at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., has seen some interesting things.
One applicant included pictures of himself writing the essay with his toes. Another applicant wrote the entire essay in iambic pentameter — a poetry form popular in Shakespearean times. And some students have included musical tapes to catch attention.
"The most helpful essays are the essays that can give us a glimpse of something we didn’t know about the student that fits in with their (application)," Lewis said. "It’s not a make-or-break in admission."
Her advice for students worried about impressing the panelists: "Just try to give us something personal to add dimension to our understanding."