What Not To Write In College Essays

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The new Common Application this year changes things a bit in terms of the essay requirement.

With no option to develop their own topics, students must choose among five new prompts, which in shorthand terms are: 1) The Significant Background Story, 2) Learning from Failure, 3) Challenging a Belief, 4) A Place of Contentment, and 5) A Transition to Adulthood.

Show how you fit into the campus culture and how you will impact the community through specific examples.

DON’T say what you think the admissions office wants to hear.

Take the time to write original responses to all the prompts.

It’s a lot of work, but it will pay off in the end. When tailoring responses to individual college prompts, it’s important to use specific details you’ve learned through visiting and research.

Having read thousands of essays in my former role as an admissions officer, I can point out some surprisingly common blunders to avoid: In any topic, students should remember that college admissions officers aren’t hoping to discover the next Shakespeare.

They genuinely want to find out what makes an applicant tick.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, application essays are the most important “soft” factors, or non-quantitative elements, that colleges consider when making admission decisions, right behind “hard” factors, or quantitative components, like grades, curriculum, and test scores.

The personal statement and other essays and short answer questions, in conjunction with recommendations, extracurricular activities, and other qualitative application elements, can provide admissions committees with context and details about students that can’t be found anywhere else in the application.

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