Why is the college admissions essay so important? Each year the most iStock_000046492518_Mediumselective of Ivy league colleges reject four out of five high school valedictorians not to mention hundreds of students with perfect SAT scores. This can leave these excellent applicants and their parents wondering where they went wrong. But the fact is that they may not have done anything wrong with their credentials but they may simply have presented themselves poorly. While there is no secret formula for getting admission to a top school, there are unfortunately a good many ways for students to ensure rejection. One of the most common problems is taking the admissions essay too lightly.

Tip #1: Do not get too fancy

Do not get too fancy. Use your own voice. Admissions officers can easily tell the difference between words pulled from a thesaurus versus the words of a high school senior. Big words especially when misused detract from the essay. Instead of impressing the reader, they wind up inappropriately drawing attention away from their message. They also tend to make the essay sound contrived and disingenuous. So as an example, the before would say “although I did a plethora of activities in high school, my assiduous efforts enabled me to succeed”.  What it really should say is “although I juggled many activities in high school, I succeeded through persistent hard work”.

Tip #2: Use personal details

Use personal details. Don’t tell them. Show them. Good essays are concrete and grounded in personal detail. They do not merely assert I learned my lesson or that these lessons are usefull both on and off the field. They show it through personal detail. They don’t tell them, they show them. This simply means that in order to describe a personal trait, describe your personal experiences. This is infinitely better than merely stating it as a fact. So the before, “I developed a new compassion for the disabled”, but the after is “the next time Mrs. Cooper asked me to help her across the street, I smiled and immediately took her arm”.


Compliments of Firedream College Planning. To see video, go to http://firedream.com/helpful-tips/

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