College Essay Mistakes We See Students Make

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Applying for college means writing a lot of college essays…and we do mean a lot of them. It’s easy to take shortcuts when writing them to save time and pump yourself up. Unfortunately, these college essay mistakes will end up costing you in the end with a rejection letter.

Don’t get caught making the common college essay mistakes that we see students make…and that admissions officials watch out for too.

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college essay mistakes

Portraying Yourself As Phony

Don’t try to pretend you’re someone different through language.

Don’t crack open the thesaurus to find the fanciest possible words for your essay. If you attempt to use language that you normally wouldn’t use, it will be noticed by the admissions officials. They’ll sense that it’s not your normal voice, and will wonder what you’re hiding.

Skipping Proofreading

Double-check your essay’s grammar.

Grammar mistakes are easy to do and easier to miss as well. Reread your essay multiple times aloud to catch accidental syntax errors. Also, ask a friend or trusted teacher to look it over too. Another pair of eyes will catch mistakes you hadn’t found yet.

Regurgitating Your Resume

Don’t simply restate accomplishments and awards.

There are plenty of other spots on your application to list extracurriculars and awards. The essay exists to provide space for illustrating your personality. Talk about who you are and how you developed, not simply what you’ve done.

Not Checking Your Ego

Be confident in your writing but not cocky.

The right tone to express through your essay is confidence mixed with humility. It’s okay to discuss what you’ve accomplished personally, but don’t do it at fellow classmates’ expense.

Also, do not brag or overdramatize your achievements. Again, confidence with a dash of humility is key.

Repeating The Essay Prompt

Don’t restate the obvious.

Admissions officials will be aware of the writing prompt you received. Don’t waste their time by restating what they already know. Instead, work on developing an opening hook to draw their attention in.

Discussing an anecdote that illustrates your personality or a special event in your personal development works better. Tell these people what they don’t know about you yet.

Using The Same Essay For Everyone

Don’t cut and paste the same exact essay for everyone.

Colleges can sniff out a generic, cut and paste essay versus ones that are tailored specifically for them. If you think that writing vaguely enough without mentioning a school works, you’ll be corrected fast.

Do your research and discuss why this particular school drew you to it, and how it can help you accomplish your professional and personal goals.

Waiting Until The Last Minute To Write

Don’t procrastinate when writing.

College application essays take longer than you will expect. The time needed to do your research, figure out talking points, structure the essay, and finally writing it is extensive.

More importantly, you’ll need to revise and edit at least 1-2 times before thinking about submission. Start working on it as soon as you possibly can.

Hiding Your Personality

Don’t be afraid to share what makes you tick.

Admissions officials literally read thousands of application essays every year. Most of the topics are similar, so don’t count on finding one that’s wholly unique.

What is unique to them is your voice and personality. Don’t be shy about sharing how you think or what you feel about certain ideas or events in your life. Those details provide the insight they want to know.

Ignoring The Word Count

Don’t try to impress with writing too much or too little.

Again, admissions officials have to read literally thousands of essays per year. In order to do so, they insist on word counts. Writing more than is required, especially if it’s unnecessary filler, will get you ignored immediately.

Follow the directions as stated; frequently check your word count to see how much more or less needs to be added.

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