After reading 2,500 applications it is the only one that I remember. The applicant wrote about how difficult it was to convince his girlfriend to accept his marriage proposal. He laid it out in perfect detail. First her denial followed by his elaborate strategy and finally after months and months of work, success.
As I look back on this particular application, one thing is clear. While it can be done, it is hard to deny an applicant you like but it is much harder to admit applicants who don’t make a great impression. I asked my AdmissionsCheckup.com group of former admissions officers to tell me the most common mistakes students make on their essays. Be sure to avoid making these faux pas:
Over-using the word I: There is no “I” in team….so overusing it
simply comes across as arrogant. Vary
your sentences choose another topic or make sure you are attributing your
success more broadly, beyond “I.”
Boring: Admissions officers can and do skim. If you had 2,000 applications to read who
would you prefer to admit -- someone who almost put you to sleep, someone who made
you realize that you read the same paragraph seven times or someone who captivated
and held your interest while showing you his experiences? Boring is an uphill battle and the kiss of
Consider the fact that your reader has not taken the SAT in the
last 5 (or more) years. Keep the erudite
vocabulary accessible. You don’t need a bunch of long, complicated words to get
your point across.
One student boasted that
he had seen five of the Seven Wonders of the World. Impressive right? No, not impressive. It said more about his parents’ bank account
than his actual accomplishments.
Bragging really just doesn’t come off well.
Another School’s Name: This one is obvious, but here is a
trick. Before you send your college
essay, read it from the last word on the page forward to the first. It will make catching the wrong name much
6. Regurgitating your Resume: The application provides your activities. If you list them in your essays you are wasting a valuable opportunity to show them who you are. The whole point of the essay is to tell the admissions officer something they would not get by just reading your resume. Wow them with a well-written and thought out essay.