Writing a college entrance essay is, no doubt, one of the more stressful parts of applying to schools. Your words represent who you are as a person, and it can sometimes be difficult to determine how they will be received by another person. After all, we all bring our own life experience and perspective to everything we read, and it isn’t easy to anticipate every reader’s reaction when we craft an essay.
Having said that, there are some surefire ways to completely turn off your chosen school’s admissions personnel. The most common mistake is simply choosing a poor topic for the essay, before even writing it.
Poor judgment. Be careful that the story you tell does not include instances of poor judgment on your part (unless the incident was in the distant past, and you convincingly explain how this event changed you). For example, you might not want to mention that you adore this school because you started attending its fraternity parties when you were fourteen.
Immaturity. Immaturity is wholly separate from youthfulness. Admissions officers are certainly aware that they are reading essays written by seventeen- or eighteen-year-old teenagers. It’s great to sound young and energetic. Just make sure that your topic doesn’t come off as emotionally immature. Have an older person read it, and give you their honest, unbiased opinion.
Focused on yourself. While the essay is about you, make an effort to connect your topic to the outside world and real events. Admissions officers are looking for candidates who can connect to their peers and engage new ideas.
Boring. When choosing your topic, make an effort to be unique. It might not surprise you to learn that thousands of high school girls have already written essays praising people such as Michelle Obama or Megyn Kelly as their role models. Make an effort to stand apart from the crowd, by choosing a topic that admissions panels haven’t encountered a hundred times already this year.
Too political. The above examples are likely to be terrible topics for another reason: Writing anything too “political” in nature can accidentally cause you to sound narrow-minded. Remember what we said about candidates who engage new ideas? Admissions officers are looking for open-minded students who are able to consider opposite points of view. And while we all have our political opinions, this is not the place for them.
Of course, choosing a topic is only the first step to a successful college entrance essay. You might also wish to seek tutoring, so you can brush up on your writing skills (for both essays and the written portions of entrance exams). Give us a call, and we can help you get started with that.