College Application Essays: Dos And Don’ts

There is no denying the fact that top colleges increasingly receive more applications than they can admit. For this reason, top institutions use various methods to identify the most deserving students, considering academic credentials and soft attributes.

In fact, according to a recent survey, top universities admit averagely less than 10% of applicants. This means that for students looking to join their dream universities, the competition is cutthroat and the chances are very slim.

That said, there are ways you can improve your application and stand out from the crowd. A college application essay is a marketing tool that highlights your strengths, showing the admissions department why you deserve to be considered.

A question that most students ask, however, is what ought to be incorporated in the essay? Are there specific guidelines that applicants are expected to adhere to? To help you with this important document, we have compiled some of the top do’s and don’ts when it comes to creating a winning college application essay.

Dos: Plan Ahead and Give Yourself Enough Time

Most students make the mistake of underestimating the significance of the college application essay, procrastinating until the last minute. While there are those who function optimally when working on urgent projects, it is not always a good idea to procrastinate. Remember, this is a document that could make or break your college admission chances.

Of course, we understand that there may be multiple factors making it challenging to get started on your project early. However, with proper time management and effective planning, there should be sufficient time to write and edit your document. If you ever find that time is running out and you have not proofread your essay, consider asking a professional college essay editor to help.

Don’ts: Don’t Plagiarize or Copy from Other Sources

We understand that the college application process can be really frustrating, and you may feel the urge to copy a prewritten essay. Understand that this is one of the most important papers you can ever be asked to write. Colleges know when students copy their essays from online platforms. Plagiarism, which is the use of other people’s work or ideas without proper citation, can damage your academic reputation and diminish your admission chances.

Also, chances are that, when you copy someone else’s essay, the work submitted will not be reflective of your true personality and abilities. Have faith in your writing abilities and competence, and make sure that you submit an original and unique essay that reflects your credentials.

Dos: Be Honest When Writing Your Essay

Since there is so much at stake, you may be tempted to exaggerate your credentials and present inaccurate information. This may work against you if the admissions officials discover a level of dishonesty.

Understand that you are amazing as you already are, and all you need is to clearly present those strong attributes that make you amazing. You may not have extreme stories to tell, but the admissions officials are only interested in learning about your principles and personality. Don’t damage your college prospects by exaggerating things or presenting false information.

Don’ts: Don’t Use the Essay to Repeat Information in Your Resume

The college application process is a holistic event that requires different documents. Each of them serves different functions and should be treated as independent. Many students make the mistake of using the essay to repeat information that is already contained in the resume. We know that coming up with a unique essay can be stressful, but you need to brainstorm and plan well.

The paper is meant to show something that makes you unique, and which cannot be covered by any other element of your application. Instead of dwelling on your credentials and grades, use the essay to highlight something unique about your personality. You could, for instance, talk about an event in your childhood that shaped your education and career goals. Look deep within to find a topic that is unique and interesting.

Dos: Adhere to Length Requirements

Like every other paper you have already been asked to write as a student, the application essay will come with strict requirements for formatting and length. Attention to detail is required, meaning that you shouldn’t exceed the indicated word length.

Admissions officials already have tons of applications to read through, so don’t make it easy for them to dismiss yours by going beyond the indicated word count. Strive for brevity and use words economically. Also make sure to:

• Follow the right format;
• Use a clear and legible font;
• Create an outline before you start writing;
• Structure your paper to include an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Dos: Follow the Instructions on the Prompt

The essay prompt is issued to guide students when writing their application essays. You may already have a story to tell that you feel is intriguing, but if no one has asked for it, then it will not serve you much.

Please note, however, that most stories can be tweaked successfully to fit within the indicated subject. The most critical thing is to make sure that your essay adheres to all the requirements indicated in the prompt.

Don’ts: Don’t Overuse Jargons and Clichés

Like is the case with every essay you can be asked to write in college, the objective of the application essay is to communicate. This means getting your story across effectively and enhancing flow and comprehensibility. Clichés may sound cool to you, but they can make your essay seem awkward to read. Strive for simplicity, using words carefully and applying transitions between paragraphs.

We also suggest the following:

• Show knowledge of the institution;
• Take breaks when writing to refresh;
• Make sure to edit and proofread your work;
• Don’t rely too much on spellchecking tools.

In this article, we have looked at a few do’s and don’ts for students when writing essays for college applications. Don’t panic if you doubt your writing skills as you can get assistance from experts online. Most importantly, always edit your documents before submitting college applications.