Top 10 Application Essay Do's and Don'ts

Our top 10 admission essay/personal statement do's and don'ts!


  • Do be honest, be genuine, be you!
  • Do take plenty of time for brainstorming and self-reflection to come up with unique, insightful essay ideas.
  • Do ask your family, friends, mentors, and anyone else who knows you well to suggest ideas or qualities you may want to incorporate in your essay.
  • Do give yourself some time, at least an hour or two, between when you write and review your finished essay.
  • Do read and re-read your essay, and carefully review it for errors or confusing passages. 


  • Don’t lie, plagiarize, recycle a school assignment, or ask someone else to write your essay for you. (Admission counselors really can tell!)
  • Don’t ignore word counts or page length requirements, and don’t fiddle with font sizes or page margins to do so.
  • Don’t use emoticons, text-message speak, or otherwise highly informal language (conversational is okay).
  • Don’t use your essay to praise the college you’re applying to or criticize other schools, including your high school.
  • Don’t let yourself get stressed out. The application essay is your chance to talk about what makes you special—enjoy it!

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