There are probably more things to avoid when writing a college essay than there are things to actually do! But no matter how confusing the process is, writing your college essay is a huge hurdle you must get over during the college application process. If you are willing to work hard to be accepted into your top-pick university, then you should keep in mind these things to avoid when writing a college essay.
A boastful essay is a big turn off to college admissions officers. The point of your essay is to make you stand out as a more likable, friendly candidate than the rest. Thus, boasting is one of the most important things to avoid when writing a college essay because if you sound arrogant, you won’t seem likable and will have decreased chances of acceptance.
Self-pitying is just as unattractive as boasting when it comes to your college essay. Students are sometimes encouraged to write about a traumatic or tragic event that has affected them personally. While such a topic does ensure a more personal, humble essay, it also opens the door for self-pity. Make sure you can distance yourself from the event before you write it, that way you don’t gush emotion and self-pity, which are two very unattractive features in an essay.
3. Simple Mistakes
Simple mistakes that may be sprinkled throughout your essay are a common plague for college essays. These are things that you might not notice in the essay while editing it yourself- “to” versus “too”, ending a sentence with prepositions such as “to” and “for” or starting a sentence with “And”. In every day writing, these mistakes aren’t such a big deal, but they communicate laziness to colleges. To avoid these mistakes, have several adults read your essay and go over the grammar with you before you send it in.
Each year, thousands of students are guilty of this self-punishing crime. If you have procrastinated all throughout high school, things may have turned out fine, but that doesn’t mean you can procrastinate on your college essay. You should start your essay several weeks before the due date, providing yourself ample time to edit and polish.
You may be tempted to lie, or simply exaggerate, in your college essay. But in the case of the college essay, honesty truly is the best policy. The essay is designed so that you can express yourself and allow colleges the opportunity to get to know the real you- facts and figures aside. Lying will only hurt your character when eventually the truth catches up with you.
6. Trying Too Hard
In a college essay, you might write “trying too hard” as “endeavoring too arduously”. While “endeavor” and “arduous” are two beautiful words, they aren’t necessary in that statement. Don’t try too hard to impress your reader with “SAT” words you may not even know the meaning of. You should write your best, but you shouldn’t sit with the thesaurus open next to you as a reference for every word.
That being said, you shouldn’t write an essay as if it’s a letter to your best friend to whom you want to brag about the past four years. You should be mindful of your audience and speak in an elevated manner, avoiding cliches. This also brings you back to not bragging or self-pitying. College admissions officers are not your peers, they are educated adults without a lot of free time, so write with that in mind.
The college admission process is taxing. If your university of choice requires an essay, matters are made even worse! But don’t overwhelm yourself, because you will come out on top as long as you avoid these essay writing sins. What else do you recommend college applicants avoid in their college essay?