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What Makes Bad College Essays Bad

❶Make sure you include enough background information about whatever topic you are writing about so that the reader can put it into context. Also, provide an explanation of any obscure activities.

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Read the prompt carefully and pay particular attention to two part questions. The admissions people are looking for a window into your character, passion and reasoning. Be Personable and Specific. If you are asked to describe your reasons for your interest in a particular school that you are applying to, make sure your essay addresses the particular features of that school that appeal to you and explain why.

Many prompts specify a desired number of words or a range. In fact, many on-line applications will not even accept more than the stated limit. Lincoln got his points across succinctly in the Gettysburg address — in less than words.

Do not distract the reader with unnecessary words and repetition. If you come across as a spoiled child, a stuck-up rich kid, lazy, sarcastic or a cynic, the admissions team might decide that you are not the right fit for their school.

While few applicants are genuinely altruistic, most colleges are turned off by students who appear more focused on what the school can do for them, rather than how they can benefit from the education and at the same time be a contributing member of the campus community. If you are applying to a business program, the average starting salary of recent graduates should not be your stated motivation for seeking admission!

A good way to catch mistakes is to read your essay very slowly and out loud. Some of the best and most memorable essays are based on a simple conversation between people. The impressions and takeaways from such a conversation can be extremely engaging and provide a valuable window into the personality and values of the writer.

Skip the Volunteer Trip. Dedicated community service over a period of time can be a strong topic for an application essay. Volunteer day at the local park, or two weeks of school building in Africa, will probably not impress the admissions committee. They see many essays of this type. Not only is it difficult to stand out from the pack, but these experiences are often more about the experience than about you, or convey that money buys opportunity.

The admissions committee relies on essays to learn additional things about you such as your initiative, curiosity about the world, personal growth, willingness to take risks, ability to be self directed, motivation and ability to make the most of a situation.

They are interested in your personal qualities such as leadership, confidence, ability to work in a team, strength of character, resilience, sense of humor, ability to get along with others and what you might add to the campus community.

In short, use your essays to showcase a side of you not visible from other parts of the application. Peruse the Entire Application. Many applications, especially for some of the more competitive schools, are complex and require multiple essays and short answers. For example, if you have five key areas you wish to cover, and there are five essays, try to strategically focus on one area in each essay. Resist the temptation to be a sesquipedalian or come across as a pedantic fop!

Use caution when showing off your extensive vocabulary. You risk using language improperly and may appear insecure or overly eager to impress. Check Your Ego at the Door. While self doubt is generally undesirable, a bit of humility can be well received, especially in an essay about overcoming adversity. Few students have a perfect resume, which is apparent in the application. Drawing attention to weakness in an essay is generally not a good idea, unless you were able to overcome a weakness, and make it a strong suit.

Errors can doom your otherwise excellent application. Make sure you schedule sufficient time for a thorough review. When possible, have at least one other person proofread your essay. Each of us has a dark side—we have personality flaws and the emotional baggage that accumulates simply from living in an imperfect world.

The application is a place to celebrate the other side, your best self. Also avoid the other type of TMI: In general, application readers have a TON of stuff to read in a very short window of time. You are what you do!

For anyone who still thinks perfect grades and SAT scores get you into highly selective colleges in the US, think again! What you do outside of the formal classroom—your extracurricular activities—is one of the most important things that separates merely qualified applicants from desirable ones. Also, provide an explanation of any obscure activities. Answer each essay prompt individually! You can score low marks on the demonstrated interest test if it is obvious to the reader that you have repurposed an essay for another school to kinda, sorta fit their prompt.

Readers tend to be familiar with the prompts from peer institutions, so they could notice and be unimpressed with your efforts. The words that flow naturally out of you will give your essays an authentic voice. Poor grammar and punctuation: If you were born and bred in an English-speaking environment, readers will expect you to have a strong command of proper grammar and punctuation.

If English is your second language, try to have a native speaker review your application for glaring errors in grammar, word choice, and punctuation. No one will expect your prose to be perfect, but go the extra mile and have someone review your grammar. Your word processing programs can fail you! Have another pair of eyes review your application. Admissions officers are only human, after all. To learn more about Mari and her experience at MIT, click here to read her biography and watch her introductory video!

By Mari , IvyWise Master Admissions Counselor Just as there is no one path to getting admitted to a particular school, there is no one reason that applicants get rejected. As a former admissions officer at MIT , here are some common mistakes I saw frequently that can be easily avoided: Five Colleges to Take a Stand! To Rush or Not to Rush? Congratulations to the Class of ! Does it Improve Your Chances?

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25 College Application Essay Mistakes that Guarantee Failure Home > College Admission > College Application Essay Tips > For every open slot at an Ivy League college, there are 10 to 12 eager applicants vying for it–and you're one of them.

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College application mistakes can hurt your admissions chances. Here are 10 college application mistakes students need to avoid. Common Application Essays and Overview 5 Tips To Help Seniors Beat College Application Deadline Anxiety and Enjoy Winter Break.

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10 College Application Mistakes to Avoid Eliminate Common College Application Errors be sure to explore other resources to help you remain organized during your college application experience. The application process is time-consuming, even with the Common Application, so be sure to set aside plenty of time for completing the essay itself. The essay should be thoughtful and show your capabilities and potentials, not likely something you want to simply churn out in a few hours.

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For the application cycle, the Common Application essay prompts remain unchanged from the cycle. With the inclusion of the "Topic of Your Choice" option, you have the opportunity to write about anything you want to share with the folks in the admissions office. The current prompts. On the flip side, exceptional application essays can help students with marginal scores get into the schools of their dreams. The tips below will help you win big with your essay. Also be sure to check out these tips for the seven personal essay options on the Common Application, this advice for improving your essay's style, and the sample.