College Admissions Essay

5 College Admissions Essay Don’ts

Don’t just write what you think the admissions committee wants to hear. The truth of the matter is that there’s probably not many college admissions essay topics that they haven’t heard, so just be honest with them.  Besides, you’ll never be able to predict exactly what the admissions committee is seeking.  Be yourself and everything will work out for the best.

Don’t force yourself to write in a style other than what’s natural for you. Some high school students force themselves to write an extremely formal college admissions essay, when really their personality is one of lightheartedness.  Conversely, some students try to write a college admissions essay that is filled with humor, except their personality is one of serious-mindedness.  Your reader will be able to tell if you’re writing in a style other than your own.

Don’t have someone else write it. I know this point may seem like a no-brainer, but in the midst of the college application fury, it can be easy to just have your parents or older siblings write your college admissions essay for you.  Believe it or not, the committee will know when your college admissions essay just doesn’t sound right.  If you’re only a high school senior and your dad is a professor at Columbia, chances are the college admissions essay he writes will be vastly different from one that you would write.  Just don’t take any chances here.  Also, be sure to pay close attention to application deadlines, so that you can have plenty of time to write your essays.  It’s not worth the admissions officer throwing your college admissions essay in the trash and losing your chance of admission.

Don’t exceed page or word limits. Most of the time, college applications will specify either how many pages or words are allowed in each essay.  Pay attention to these limitations and try not to exceed them.  Remember that the admissions committee members are reading thousands of essays each day, so getting handed an college admissions essay that is pages and pages longer than the page limit listed in the application can have a negative effect on you prior to them even reading the essay.  A well-written essay will be able to stay within the required page or word limits.  If you find yourself vastly exceeding these limits, then it is likely that you are going off-topic or including unnecessary information.

Don’t adjust margins or fonts. Some students will try to make the margins and fonts smaller to try to fit in more content.  Again, you won’t be “tricking” the admissions committee.  If your college admissions essay is written in 10pt font and has 1/2 inch margins, but all the other applicants’ essays are written in 12pt font and have 1 inch margins, they’ll be able to tell the difference.  Just take the appropriate steps to edit your essay so that it fits nicely on a page with a standard font and standard margins.

If you try to follow these 5 tips when writing your college admissions essay, in addition to those outlined in the College Entrance Essays post, you’ll be on your way to getting accepted into college in no time.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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