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Choosing the right essay prompt for you

What Makes Bad College Essays Bad
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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.

They may catch something important that you missed. Again, read your essay out loud. An impressive essay generally contains a strong opening, well organized content, and a powerful closing.

Start with an outline and design your essay paragraph by paragraph. Make sure you include enough background information about whatever topic you are writing about so that the reader can put it into context.

For example, one student wrote an excellent essay about a horrible first day of school, but forgot to include that he had just moved to town, from halfway around the world, and was struggling with English. Resist the temptation to run off and start writing. Experts will tell you that up-front planning of your essays is well worth the time invested. Research the College Before Writing the Essay. Almost every school has its own identity and mission.

Some universities even have a slogan. Others have niche areas of study that they like to promote. Pay attention to what is important to the particular school and, when appropriate, consider including it in some manner in your essay. Invest in a Strong Introduction.

Admissions people read a lot of essays and may not be energetic and fresh when yours reaches the top of their pile. It is critical that the first few sentences capture their interest. A boring opening may cause the reader to not pay close attention to the remainder of the essay. All schools want to admit students who genuinely know and like the school and might actually attend if admitted. Your essay should be full of specific details about the academic programs and student activities that attract you to the school and how you would contribute to the school community.

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!

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Eliminate Common College Application Errors (iStockphoto) Applying to college is a stressful time for any student, so don't risk sabotaging your hard work by making avoidable mistakes during the process.

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25 College Application Essay Mistakes that Guarantee Failure 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. On paper, most applicants appear very similar.

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There are, however, many common mistakes that applicants make that can be easily avoided by planning ahead, taking your time, and being mindful of the information that you’re giving to the admissions committee. These mistakes or “red flags” could send your application to the “no” pile if you’re not careful. Check to make sure you haven't made any of the common mistakes on this list. Tone-Deafness. Admissions officers are looking for resourcefulness, the ability to be resilient, and an active and optimistic approach to life – these are all qualities that create a thriving college student. Essays that don't show these qualities are usually suffering from tone-deafness.

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For example, “country” and “county” should not be mixed up. Answer spaces should not be left blank unless there are spaces on the application that clearly do not apply to the student. Students must also make sure to stick with the word or character limits on essays and other responses. Not Proofreading Applications. Spelling and grammar mistakes must be avoided. Students should have at least two . Even the most beautiful essay may not sway college admissions officers if the writer did not follow the prompt. The Common Application essay also has length limitation, typically around words. That’s approximately three double-spaced pages, so every word counts, and every sentence must serve a .