Don't be cocky. Jacobs recalls a senior who figured he was a lock at two Ivy League schools. At School No. 1, his parents had a friend of a friend on the board. At School No. 2, an admissions counselor told him he'd be a good bet. Or at least that's how he remembered the conversation.
Both schools said no. Part of the reason was that his test scores were more impressive than his grades. He could have addressed that in the "optional" essay, but he didn't feel he needed to write one (see above).
He did get into a state university but hadn't bothered to apply for the honors program. At the 11th hour, he was giving FedEx a lot of business.
Eschew artiness. College deans will surely groan/If your essay is a poem.
Searching for a college? Get our complete rankings of Best Colleges.