Warning: 5 Ways to Blow Your College Application Essay

application essay


How to Avoid College Application Essay
Booby Traps

No matter where you are with writing your college application essay, you should double check that you are on the right track.

It’s way too easy to inadvertently torpedo your chances of writing an essay that gives you an edge in the admissions game. (more…)

The Ultimate Essay Checklist


College Admissions Essays

Final Checklist

So you think you are done with your college admission essay or personal statement. Wait! You have worked so hard on that essay; it’s worth an extra few minutes to make sure it’s as good as you can make it. I know you are probably sick of it by now, so if you have time set it aside for a day or so. But before you send it out, give it at least one more critical read.

It’s fine if you don’t have all of these elements, but if you have some or most of them, chances are your essay will sing!

A grabber introduction. No? Try reading THIS POST and THIS POST to see if crafting an anecdote at the start will make it more compelling and memorable.

A twist. No? Try THIS POST to learn what these are and how to find them.

A universal truth or life lesson. No? There’s a good chance you already have one, but just didn’t recognize it yet. Read THIS POST to check yours.

A snappy title. No? My advice is to include a title if you can think of a clever one. Otherwise, just leave it out. Read THIS POST to help think of one.

Under word count. No? Read THIS POST to learn how to cut your essay and why it almost always helps.



And make sure to read THIS POST on the steps to take to “fine edit” your college application essay and give it that winning polish!

I’m sure it’s perfect now! Good luck!


Don’t OD on Adjectives in Your College Essays


Mark Twain, one of the best prose stylists ever ever ever, wrote, “As to the Adjective: when in doubt, strike it out.” When we are writing narratives and striving for “descriptive” prose, many of us reach for those juicy adjectives. I’m trying to kick my adjective habit. I now understand that if I need two words to describe something, especially when I use a long adjective and a noun, I probably haven’t found the best noun yet.


In a letter to a friend, written in 1880, Twain said, “I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English–it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it: don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them–then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.”

I recently stumbled across a sample college admissions essay that was actually recommended by Connecticut College from their sample “Essays That Worked.” Check out the first paragraph and see an adjective overdose for yourself. I don’t mean to pick on the writer, but adjective restraint is something we all can work on. By the second paragraph, she shifts into a much more direct style of writing and the rest of her essay rocks! See how many adjectives (and adverbs!) you would take out:

Olivia Rabbitt ’16
Bishop Feehan High School, Attleboro, MA

The bright blue eyes that alight with unfettered curiosity on the burgeoning bulletin board are not only my own. Nor are the ears that listen raptly to the hum of student life and the gentle sing-song of our tour guide’s voice. Almost in tandem, my companion and I tear ourselves from the vivid vignette of college life and return with unmatched strides to the vast expanses of the campus. As the tour continues, I am neither surprised by the eager questions my companion poses – “Where’s the baseball field?” – nor by the heightened interest painted so clearly across his face. Wandering amongst the tall stone buildings, I appreciate for the first time how much this visit means to my constant companion, my father.

Click HERE to read entire essay.

If you need more help getting started with your college admissions essay, check out my Jumpstart Guide.

If any of these tips and advice helped you with your college essay,
please take a few seconds and use bottons below to share this post and my helpful blog!
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