4 Ways to Screw Your Application Essay

Students are always nervous about their first application essay – and, to be honest, they should be. It’s pathetically easy to screw up an application essay, especially if you’re not being careful about writing it. There are many ways a student can end up bombing their application essay, but in general, there are a few faux pas that all students can avoid. These huge mistake – which typically end up costing the student a college admission – include:

  • Talking too much about yourself. Yes, this college application is about you. Yes, you have a great GPA. Yes, you’re in the mathletes. Yes, you’re a saint taking caring of you ailing grandmother. Eventually, going on and on about yourself isn’t going to get you brownie points; it’s just going to bore your reader, and that’s a bad sign on an application essay. Make sure those admissions officers know who you are (and are interested in who you are!) but don’t make it the whole essay. You have to address their college’s needs, not just you and your own.
  • Making it academic. Out of all the essays you’ll write before college, you can bet the college application essay is the least like any of them. There’s nothing holding you back, here; you can tell stories, jokes or quirky anecdotes to your heart’s content. Too many students go about college application essays like an English literary analysis assignment. The write a dull, if well-composed essay that’s sure to pass far under the radar. A college application essay shouldn’t actually read like an essay: just remember that.
  • Going with your first idea. When you’re trying to craft a perfect application essay, don’t just hop on your fist semi-brilliant through and stick to it. A lot of students fall into the trap of thinking their first smart concept will be their ticket to college. They rely so heavily on their chosen story, essay theme or other idea that they end up building an essay around (what ends up being) a weak premise. Don’t just pick an idea and run with it. Really brainstorm, bounce around some concepts, try a few rough drafts and then select your topic.
  • Being too laid back or too confident. If you’re cocky, it will show in your writing; if you’re lazy, it will show in your writing. Just because this isn’t your standard essay doesn’t mean you should forget grammar rules and throw common courtesy out the window. Contributing a few spelling or grammar errors can be essential to a story or joke; but don’t be so relaxed about it. No college is going to trust a student that litters ‘ain’ts’ throughout their essay, no matter how high their GPA is. At the same time, being too over confident can dissuade application readers just as easily. Stay on an even-keel, and keep a general level of literary competence.

Posted by September 27th, 2012