As before, more mistakes counsellors and admissions officers have seen students make in the admissions process posted to the NACAC list serv. Today’s topic: Essays:
Writing a college essay that has not been proofed, has a boring topic (isn’t reading season taxing enough without having to sift through the same essay topic multiple times?), or is over-thesaurusized (yes, I realize that is not really a word).
Student applying to multiple colleges that ask for “Why do you want to apply to X college?” and deciding that they can write the same essay for each college and simply substitute the name. (In other words, NO thought as to why they want to apply to X college…..)
Students should make sure that they indicate which essay question they are answering when given a choice of several prompts. It’s not always obvious from the essay itself, even if, perhaps, it SHOULD be.
Grade-school words that are misspelled rankle me far more than garden-variety typos. Key offenders: received (usually spelled recieved, of course) and definitely (defintately and other
aberrations). Aspiring business and psychology majors need to know how to spell those words, too.
I tell students they can write their essays on any topic, but one I think sank a students chances: writing about her anorexia.
School A is my ideal school because…in an essay to School B.
Writing your essay about what a great baseball player you were in eighth grade, even though you haven’t played since then.
This is going to be opening a big can of worms, but please try and steer the kids away from very common essays. Here are the ones that put me to sleep every admissions cycle:
The Big Game: being a on sports team, preparing for the big game, winning and learning the value of hard work and teamwork or losing and learning the value of defeat etc. Super common and super unoriginal.
Most Influential Person: Most common (naturally) are parents and grandparents. But please keep in mind that everyone ELSE is putting this down too so their essay gets quickly glossed over and forgotten. Have them write on another topic. If they feel passionate about writing on their dad or grandma, then ask them to write about them in a different, original, funny, even shocking way. It breaks up the monotony.
Wrong College : I have known colleagues at other institutions who will outright deny/waitlist a kid who has accidentally inserted another colleges name in the essay in an attempt to personalize. Example: The reason I want to go to Super Competitive A written in
The Super Competitive B app folder.
How about the student who submitted an essay on diversity for a special visit program that we were offering? She went to our University website, then to the Law School site, and cut/pasted their entire statement on diversity on her essay form. It even included phrases
like, The University of XX School of Law strives… We did not invite her to campus. She called and wanted to know why. When I explained plagiarism to her, she said, Well, I didn’t copy it from your admissions web site so I thought it would be fine. I explained that it was not acceptable and she said, Well, can I go ahead and come as I already have the days off from school? Seriously.