The college essay is a crucial part of the admissions process into the college or university of your choice. Not only is it an opportunity for a student to showcase his or her academic writing abilities, but it is also one of few sections in a college application where a candidate’s voice will truly shine through.
Future college students need their essay, some called a “personal statement,” to make an excellent impression on the college admission panel and increase their chances of getting accepted, but they only have a few hundred words to do so. Thus, the importance of the college essay cannot be overstated.
Why Is the College Essay Important?
The college essay is a chance for the student to show off how well-rounded he/she is. It also provides the admissions panel with information about why the student is worthy of an offer from the college.
It is therefore vitally important that students take time in the writing process in order to develop a well-written college essay that will not only get them the acceptance letter they are seeking, but one that will set them apart from the other candidates applying for the same scholarship or grant.
5 Common Mistakes Students Make When Writing Essays
When writing a college essay, however, many students do not use their best writing skills. Here are 5 of the most common mistakes that students make when writing their college admissions essays:
- providing too much information
- being too general
- not choosing a prompt type
- inconsistently formatting the essay
- being too creative
Providing too much information…
As with any other type of writing, a college essay must contain enough information for the reader to get the full idea. However, there are limits to what you can include in it, and including too much information or attempting to interpret your chosen material in a way that makes no sense will simply not work.
Remember, your goal is to provide the panel with as much information as possible in a way that makes sense and helps the reader come to a conclusion.
Being too general…
College admission advisors have a wide range of opinions and it is important to be as specific as possible in your essay. The advisors have to read dozens of essays per day, and if they all read the same… well, what’s the point in even writing just more of the same then?
Just get unique in your approach. Even if your essay talks about common things that everyone seems to write about, at least make sure you approach those things from a unique angle that no one talks about.
Not choosing a prompt type…
One of the most important things about writing an essay is selecting topics that are pre-planned and which can be related to the prompt you have chosen. This will give the admission officers something to read over and consider when reviewing your application.
Generally speaking, prompt type topics are easier to write on than those that are not specific, and therefore will produce better results.
Inconsistently formatting the essay…
It’s a common complaint among students that college essays often go through a series of formatting requirements and changes before being decided upon one that will be final.
Although it is important to follow a specific format for your essays, be ready to change and adapt to the new requirements on the fly.
Many colleges and universities will accept your essay in whatever format you’ve chosen, even if it does not conform to their usual formats. But only as long as you are consistent with that format and don’t change it more than you have to.
Getting too creative when there’s no need for that…
College admissions officers don’t want to read overly wordy or creatively written college admissions essays. Instead, they want a well-written, well-organized essay that clearly expresses your personal qualities and experiences.
Students often make the mistake of being overly creative when it comes to college admissions letters. While going into details is a good thing to do when writing an admission essay, remember the common mistake no. 1 that we mentioned in this article? There’s only so much information that you should include in your essay before it gets ignored or makes a bad impression.
You need to strike a good balance between being specific, personal, and interesting while not sounding too vague, or boring the admission officers to death.
Conclusion: Writing a quality college essay can be challenging for many students. However, by avoiding the 5 mistakes mentioned above you can increase your chances of success when writing your essay and make the college admission easier, too.