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Monday, November 5, 2012
Things NOT to Put Into Your Admission Essay, Part Two
Back in July of this year, I shared another "Not-To-Do" list of things you probably shouldn't say in your college admissions essay. Since so much essay writing advice consists of generalizations, I love it when I find articles that get specific about things you should avoid. November is essay-writing season for college applicants. In celebration, I offer some more admonitions about essay-writing.
To be fair, I've found another list, but wanted to expand on some of their recommendations. CBS News
I'm a big supporter of eliminating platitudes (#9), like "I want to make the world a better place". I'm pretty sure many admissions officers would share my distaste for sentimentality (#4). I'm always impressed when students tackle personal pain in their writing (death, substance abuse, disabilities), but never impressed when it seems like they're using obstacles as a proverbial violin.
When I'm editing, the first place I start word-hacking is the opening sentence (see #1). The short word-limits on most admissions essays mean that you don't have time to meander towards your point. Think of your reader as impatient.
Finally-and this applies disproportionately to high school students-you really shouldn't use long words when simple ones will do the trick (#7). Anyone can log into a thesaurus. Remember, your reader is looking at her watch. She does not remember reading Gulliver's Travels in high school, so don't say "Brobdingnagian" instead of "big" to be cute. Sound harsh? Better you hear it from me than your college of choice.
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