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3 Mistakes You Must Avoid While Writing a College Application Essay

upset Asian college student sitting with her laptop on a bus

How important is the college application essay? Did you know that it could be the main reason for the final decision of the application committee? There are a couple of reasons why. Firstly, if the chances of the applicants are equal  based on the test scores, the essay will play a decisive role. That’s because the college essay is your business card. It reveals your intentions, career plans, and reasons for your choice. Secondly, words are powerful tools which can lead us to achieve great things. We have to combine them in the right way to be noticed and heard.

It is important to express your knowledge about facts in your essay. But  the college committee is more interested in how you express and apply that knowledge in your college essay.  You must understand too that written and spoken words reflect your personality. And most colleges want the most prominent personalities to become their students.

Like all essays,  the college application essay must be well structured. Many students fail their college essays because of some common mistakes. Hence, you should try to avoid them. As it is said, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

Here are three mistakes that you should never make when writing your college essay.

1. Writing an essay that is not unique

There is a saying that there is nothing new under the sun. But that conviction is partly wrong, as every single essay, if not copied, has its own unique sense. When two people get the same topic, they usually write two different essays. the essays will share some common things. But different reasoning and supporting examples are usually used. When you write your application letter, avoid repeating facts or grades stated in your CV and test scores. Add additional interesting details about yourself that your CV and test scores do not cover.

Some essays will ask you to write what you think about an unusual point. That’s because the college committee wants to know you better. They want to know about your personality and identify your uniqueness and perspective. Hence, use the opportunity to share your motivations and inspirations. Explain why you want to study at your dream college.

But you should avoid revealing very private facts about illnesses and love stories. Also describing failures and crimes in a good light should be avoided.  You might think that these made you stronger. But they weaken your application and cause your essay readers to question your motive. For instance, they might wonder if you’re trying to win the committee’s approval by making yourself look pitiful instead of strong.

The same goes with sounding overconfident and boasting too much about your achievements. Remember, that you are the one  under the spotlight. So you need to show why you need the college and why you are a good fit for the college. If you are struggling to choose a topic and you’re not sure how to present your arguments, you can look through some good research paper topics .  This can help you to learn what to do and even practice writing before you write your final college essay.

2.  Getting lost in the crowd

Of course it is good to avoid being overconfident in your essay. But that does  mean that you should just copy popular reasons for wanting to study at a specific college. Admission officers read thousands of college essays daily. So they know all the cliche reasons for wanting to study at that college. You need to present your unique talents and motivations. Explain how the college can help you to achieve your goals.

Your topic will probably not stand out. But the voice (words and sense between the lines) in your essay should show who you are. The admission officers look for college students who want to thrive and develop on their career path. Thus your essay should sound optimistic and balanced. Please, be aware of the usage of cliches, quotations and metaphors. Those trigger a red flag that you borrowed someone’s ideas instead of being original. It is okay to take inspiration from them. But do not make your essay a counterfeit, as that is not a good way reflect who you are.

3. Making structure and grammar mistakes

An outstanding college application must have proper structure, grammar, punctuation, and language. A lousy essay does not only have an unclear or messy topic but its presentation and tone of voice are also poor. Lots of resources offer students a list of phrases to help improve their essays.  You can find phrases to help express your thoughts better. Your essay has to be proofread for clear structure (introduction, arguments, pitch) and syntax.

If you are not good at writing, there are lots of writing services on the digital market. These  include Grammarly and Hemingway. They help you to write higher quality essays.  These writing services can help you avoid making two crucial mistakes.  The first one is the usage of the same vocabulary throughout your essay. That shows that you only know a limited amount of words. The second one is writing sentences that are too long.  Longer sentences are often difficult to understand. And there is a higher chance of making grammatical mistakes when writing longer sentences.

The cause for a poor essay is either unclear topic or poor usage of language or both.  Your writing style tells a lot about you as a person. Your essay should show that you are ready to study at the college level. It should reflect your intentions and life goals, even character, and mindset. The development of technology has made it easier to access educational resources online. So you can learn any subject by putting in a decent amount of effort into it. But college is not only about gaining knowledge. It is also about becoming engaged in a community. You must show that you ready to build a relationship with professionals. And you must prove that you are receptive to valuable insights that can guide you on your way. Be yourself and show them that you would be an asset to them.

 

 

For more great college tips, check out the other blogs on College Basics.