Mar
16
2013

Dos and Don’ts in Writing College Application Essays

Guest Post By Meaghan I.

Read the instructions for the essay carefully, and make sure you read each question twice before answering. Touch upon every point that the question asks for, and do not be afraid to spend a few days on your essay as you perfect it. Here are a group of dos and don’ts regarding your application. Take this advice under advisement as you create your essay.

DO

Keep it concise, amusing, informative and revealing

Just don’t forget that you are writing something that people should enjoy reading. You are not writing an essay to get points for your coursework. Keep the text…human.

Highlight your counterintuitive and non-stereotypical aspects

Remove any racial stereotypes by going in the opposite direction, unless the stereotype is a good one, and then run with it.

Use various descriptive words

Using the same descriptive words repeatedly can get very dull to read. Words such as good and great should only appear three of four times. Any other occasions should be replaced with more varied words such as “excellent”, “superb”, magnificent”.

Be humble but confident of your ability

You need to show them that you know your own ability and that you know how to express it, but you need to be slightly humble about it so that you do not come across as boastful.

Explain any black marks on your history

Explain them quickly, concisely, and make no excuses. Take responsibility and show that you have learned from any mistakes.

Demonstrate any evidence of your knowledge

This can be awards, good grades or a particularly good essay that gained recognition.

Read it again in a few days to edit

In a few days the text will not be as prominent in your mind and you will see mistakes in the text that you can fix.

Be mature but fun, positive but restrained

Keep the text human but do not add any “street” into the text. You need to be mature, but show that you know what fun is. You need to be positive without being over-the-top enthusiastic.

Answer every aspect of a question
Many questions are open ended but require specific answers. You should give them as best as you can.

DON’T

Write what you think college admissions people want to read

They have heard it all before and will not be impressed. Some of the stuff you write may appear phony, but try not to write what you think they want to read.

Write too much and ramble on

Keep each answer concise. You can start by writing a massive text full of everything you want to add, and then shortening it down on the following read through(s), and finally cutting off the fat on the last two proof reads.

Forget to proof read your essay twice

One proof read is good, but this is not a school essay, you must proof read at least twice, because the admin staff will catch anything that you do not spot.

Repeat the same words (descriptive or otherwise)

It makes your text dull and boring to read.

Tell impressive lies to impress administrators

The admins may be stupid enough to believe some of your lies, but not all of them, and once your credibility is shot, it cannot be regained.

Give any excuses within your essay

People in positions of power hate excuses. Either it was your fault and you admit it, or you allowed it to happen–and you admit that too.

Go too far over the word count

Going over a little bit is okay if you simply have to squeeze that last nugget of gold in there, but going too far over is going to make your text hard to finish (which is bad).

Be negative in any way or form

Any form of negativity is out of bounds, even if you think it is 100% justified. If you have to be negative about something then simply cut that topic/subject from your essay. Otherwise, you must stay positive.

Brag, boast or be condescending to others

These are negative traits that show a deep form of insecurity, which makes you impossible to work with. Insecure people do not work well in groups, and many academic courses involve group work.

This article was contributed by Meghan I. She is a writer for Scholar Advisor,an educational portal for students.

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