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While it’s important to put considerable effort into all college application components, essays are often the finishing touch and should be treated with great care and consideration.Here are some college application essay dos and don’ts for students to keep in mind as they complete their applications this fall.
While the Common Application prompts for the main essay are general enough to allow students to write about whatever they choose, it still needs to be clear how that essay addresses the prompt. Check and double check that a clear connection is made between the topic or lesson of your essay, and the question the prompt is asking. If you’re applying to 10 colleges and wait until two weeks before applications are due, you’re going to have a lot of writing to complete in a very short amount of time.
Waiting until the last minute leads to stress and rushed essays that don’t accurately convey your message.
Instead of writing what you think the admissions office wants to read, write about what you want them to know.
Again, the essay is a great space to reveal something new about you, so stand out by being yourself and showing another side of you as a person or student. Using lofty language and complex sentence structure can make you sound sophisticated, but is that really how you speak?
So many students think that they “know” what colleges want from an applicant, and this can have a big influence over their essays.
Students will abuse the thesaurus and write about strange topics in an effort to impress and stand out.Give yourself plenty of time to brainstorm, draft, revise, and get feedback on your essays. Your college counselors are there to help, but they can’t if you don’t ask or wait until the last minute to seek guidance and feedback.Make a plan to meet with your college counselor and go over your college list and essays, and ask for feedback on your writing.DON’T use the personal statement essay to repeat your resume. The personal statement is your opportunity to reveal something about yourself that can’t be found anywhere else in your application – use it!Many students use this essay to expound upon activities or interests that are already heavily demonstrated in their application through courses, the activity list, and more.Instead of reinforcing a top activity or interest, instead, write about something that reveals another dimension of your life or personality.If your top activity is swimming, don’t write about the big championship meet.Spelling and grammar errors can take away from an otherwise stellar essay – so be mindful. This is one of the most common mistakes that students make.In the pursuit to write the perfect essay, many forget to connect it to the original prompt.Take the time to read over all your essays carefully and keep an eye out for things like “out” when you meant to say “our” and other common typos.Have a parent or counselor read over the essay, too, to catch any errors you might have missed.