Jun   2012



3 Common Essay Mistakes

Assistant Editor, Wintergreen Orchard House
Last Updated: May 13, 2019

Essay MistakesThe essay you submit when you apply to college plays a big role in the admission process; it's the one area that allows you to creatively express yourself. The applications only provide the cut and dry information, but the essay shows you for who you are. That being said, the essay also leaves room for mistakes that will give an admission representative the wrong idea about you. So what do you need to watch out for?

1. Not proofreading

Spelling, punctuation, and grammar need to be thoroughly checked after the essay is finished. Every piece of writing needs to be edited, read out loud, and revised before it can be considered a finished piece. Have someone else look over your work, since oftentimes, you won’t be able to pick up on your own mistakes. If your essay is cluttered with errors, it will hurt your chances of being admitted, as it would give readers the impression that you’re careless in your work.

2. Not sounding like a high school student

Using a strong vocabulary is a wonderful thing, but if you aren’t the type of person that has a colorful collection of words, then don’t use your application essay as the place to start. Many students will use a thesaurus to “add” to their writing, when in reality, this will make the essay weaker. But often the natural flow of your writing will be interrupted when attempting to use unfamiliar words you haven’t used before.

3. Not following directions

Every school has different requirements for the essay: some ask for a specific question to be answered, and some want to know about you and why you are a good fit for their institution. If the school has a specific topic or question, just make sure to answer it! Essays can trail off and then never get to the main point. Don’t fall into that trap: if you can’t answer a question asked by the admission committee, then it reflects poorly on your ability to pay attention and remain focused. One more note about this: if there is a 500-word maximum, do not go over 500 words. Keep your essay clear and concise!

The essay is a way to express yourself to the admission committee and see a different side of you that no other part of the application process touches upon. Essays are personal and they take time, so don’t rush it, and ensure that you have accurately presented yourself through writing.

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About Meaghan Heffernan

Meaghan Heffernan

Meaghan is an Assistant Editor at Wintergreen Orchard House, a sub-division of Carnegie Communications, where she manages data for colleges and universities in the western United States. She graduated in January 2011 from Fitchburg State University with a degree in professional writing and course concentrations in political science. Meaghan wrote for student-run newspaper The Point at Fitchburg, was an active member of the English Club, and was involved in creative writing groups. During Meaghan’s free time, she can be found working at her part-time job, reading, or spending time with her family. Her college application and admission process was a breeze, and she is hoping to make the experience just as easy and organized for future college applicants.

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