Writing a Simple College Admission Essay: What to Avoid
Writing the essay part of your college application comes across as a scary task to most. It is an understandable fear considering that you have to write about yourself in a way that gets you accepted. Many people shy from writing good things about themselves, others are carried away and start boasting. Both the extremes can make the essay section of your application a veritable minefield of disasters. While the cold feet are inevitable, disasters need not be. Here are a few common booboos to avoid:
- Do not skip brainstorming and outlining your college essay: It is easy to think of the college application essay as more of a personal account than a proper essay. Do not treat it so. Brainstorm about what you are going to write, make an outline, and then start writing it.
- Do not select a topic(s) that does not suit you: College application offers you a choice of topics. Consider your experiences, strengths, and weaknesses before you pick a topic. Your choice should be informed by your achievements and words that describe you. Carefully look to see which topic gives you the best opportunity to display your qualities.
- Do not overlook answering the question in the topic: Your essay should answer the question in the topic. If asked to “give an account of a memorable experience, and how it affected you,” you should critically analyze both the experience and your response to it.
- Do not be generic or boring: You should be specific in your essay. If asked about your interest, openly write about the features of the college that you like best. Do not hesitate here.
- Do not write too much: Respect the word count or available space. Concise and precise essays are more favorably looked upon than the ones that go on and on.
- Avoid sounding self-interested: You want to come across as a balanced individual who is interested in life, studies, knowledge, and other people!
- Do not skip proofreading: Misspellings and grammatical errors can be the most avoidable disaster one can make. Do not skip it no matter what.
- Do not repeat the information from your resume: Your essay is your shop window. Show your personality here. Your resume and other parts of application have taken care of the bare facts already.
- Avoid bigger-than-thou words: No. You do not need a thesaurus for your college application. Do not write a love letter to yourself (or a eulogy!): You might be impressed with yourself but do not write that impression in the essay. Write confidently about your good points, successes, achievements, and strengths, without being boastful.
- Do not write a self-depreciating confession: Do not come across as someone who does not have the confidence to own his or her positive traits.
- Do not miss researching the college before writing the essay: Again, this has to do with specificity. Learn as much as you can about the individual college to make informed remarks about how you fit in.
- Do not underestimate the power of a gripping introduction: Work on the introductory paragraph. A boring introduction means you have lost the reader. In this case, this may mean the difference between getting yourself accepted and rejected.
- Do not (for Pete’s sake) hurry: This is one of the most important essays of your life. Do not write it in one night. Spend time with it and on it.