10 Common College Admissions Essay Mistakes

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Written by Inna | Last Updated November 1st, 2019
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Most colleges and universities require an admissions essay that gives applicants the chance to express why they are the right fit for the school. While it may seem like a small part of your overall application, a well-constructed essay can have a major impact on your chances of getting in. Admissions essay requirements are different for every school; however, the following mistakes should be avoided no matter the requirements for the essay.

Mistake 1: Not Doing the Research Before Writing

How many times have you begun to write a paper for a school assignment before doing the necessary research on the topic? Do not make this mistake while writing your admissions essay. Learn about the school you are applying to. Knowing what the school expects of you will help you to narrow down your essay topic and strongly appeal to the admissions office of your dream school.

Mistake 2: Writing Your Essay on the Day It’s Due

Do not wait until the last minute to write your admissions essay. Start early and think about what you should write. You should spend as much time thinking about what you will write as actually putting words on paper. This will help you to pick the right topic and ideas for your essay. Give yourself time to run your rough draft by someone whose opinion you trust, and don’t be afraid of constructive criticism.

Mistake 3: Picking a Topic that You Don’t Care About

Many applicants focus on the topic that they think the admissions officers want to read about, and not necessarily what they are passionate about. Select a topic that is meaningful to you, because you will be able to write about that topic in a thorough and personal way.

Mistake 4: Writing a Boring Introduction

The introduction of your essay can leave a good or a bad impression of your essay as a whole. Don’t just simply restate the question of the essay in the beginning; the admissions officers already know the question. Invest time in coming up with a good introduction that will capture the attention of the reader.

Mistake 5: Avoiding the Question

Even though this seems like a simple task, many applicants do not answer the admissions essay questions completely. It’s easy to fall into the habit of recycling admissions essay for every college you apply to. In some cases, it might work; however, always alter your essay to the specific question each application requires.

Mistake 6: Omitting Specific Details

Memorable essays have vivid descriptions and details. Include specific details and descriptions of the event you are writing about. Providing specific details will help the admission officer to have the experience you want them to have.

Mistake 7: Wrong Essay Length

Follow all the essay instructions carefully, especially instructions on the length of your essay. Many admissions officers will disregard your essay if it’s too long or too short. If the instructions say 500 words, you need to write 500 words. Be precise and specific.

Mistake 8: Using Too Formal or Too Casual Language

Make your admissions essay reader-friendly. It should not sound like a PhD thesis, nor should it read like a casual email to your best friend. Try to find the right balance between the two extremes. Don’t write cliche phrases, but rather show your own personality and creativity through your writing.

Mistake 9: Focusing on the Negative

It’s okay if you want to write about the challenges you have had in your life and how you have been able to overcome them; however, make sure to accentuate the positive, highlight your strengths, and steer away from the negative.

Mistake 10: Not Proofreading Before Submitting

Before clicking the submit button, make sure to proofread your essay. Ask a few of your family members and friends to read it out loud and critique your writing. Submitting an essay with grammar and spelling errors shows the admissions office that you are careless and not a detail-oriented person.

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