Things to Avoid in Your College Essay

on January 31, 2017

A college essay should leave admissions officials thinking yes instead of no. Here are some guidelines for crafting a strong piece that hopefully will earn you a spot at your first-choice college.


Don’t Be Too Personal


Anything you wouldn’t say to your parents or teachers shouldn’t go into your essay. Topics about sex, bodily functions or illegal activities are strictly off limits. Also, do not go into the details of your relationship with a significant other. In fact, it’s best not to mention it at all.


Don’t Highlight Bad Behavior


Do not discuss anything you’ve done that would raise questions about your character. For instance, if you’ve committed a crime, do not mention it unless it is a part of your permanent record. And, even if you live in a state where marijuana is legal, do not mention it. Colleges do not want to know about your drug use in your essay. In fact, it could be one of the quickest ways to get your application rejected.


Don’t Lie or Plagiarize       


Do not write a fantastical essay if it isn’t true. In the age of the Internet, facts are easily verified. Lying in your essay demonstrates poor character. Additionally, do not copy an essay from anyone else. Plagiarism is one of the worst offenses in the academic world. Attribute all quotes properly.


Don’t be Offensive


You don’t know who will read your essay; avoid hot-button topics like politics and current events. Discussing how you’d like to impact the world is perfectly acceptable, but going on a rant about abortion, gun control or immigration is likely to raise eyebrows.


Don't be Negative


Also, don’t be negative about the college you’re applying to. Turing your nose up at a school that’s your second choice could leave you without a safety net. Your goal should be to get the college admissions staff to think positive about your application, not negative.

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