So, you’ve got a college application to write, you have a clearly written prompt before your eyes, but all you do for the last couple of hours is write a sentence, shake your head, delete it, try to approach the topic from another direction, delete it, and so on? You have a vague understanding of what is expected from you, but the moment you start putting it into words you feel that it just isn’t right.
However, the trick is not so much to know what to do but to know what not to do. Let’s help you with this one.
What You Should Avoid in Your Application Essay
- Don’t let yourself drift from one thing to another.
Fairly often the topic you get for your essay is fairly vague: “Experience that was important for your personal development”, “The most memorable experience of your life”, this kind of thing. It is, actually, a good thing, because it allows you to choose whatever you can write well about. A lot of people, however, feel disoriented and cannot settle on anything particular; as a result, the essay turns out jumbled, messy, disorderly – they try to cram all they can think of into it without any concern for general idea, unity of thought and so on. Remember – you only have a limited number of words at your disposal, so you should make everything as clear-cut and concise as possible. Choose one thing and write about it.
- Don’t pretend.
You know what feels like a breath of fresh air when you read an application essay? When somebody is being sincere – it is a wonderful change from all these students who drivel about how much they love humanity, want to help people, hope that studying in this college will give them an opportunity to make the world a better place and so on. In addition to tasting like diabetes, it also immediately feels false. You should probably avoid writing about it even if it is your goal in life – the committee have seen it so many times that they’re probably just going to roll their eyes in exasperation anyway.
- Don’t be too down-to-earth.
Both you and the committee know that you want to attend a more prestigious college to get a degree, land a better job and earn more money. It goes without saying. But saying that it is the sole purpose of your application is sure to put some people off; so don’t focus on it. Your love of learning, enthusiasm for the subject and suchlike should come into picture as well.
Or as close to it as possible. Don’t write what you think they want you to write – thus you’ll end up writing what 90% of applicants write.