6 Things to NEVER Do in Your College Essay

Oct 11, 2021 | Articles, College Essay

With Early Decision + Early Action deadlines looming and Regular Admissions just around the corner, we wanted to curate advice from our expert educators at The Community Classroom for those who are beginning to work on their college essays. There are lots of things you SHOULD do with your college essays, but we wanted to focus on the few things you should NOT do before your essay ends up in the hands of an admissions officer.

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1. Don’t sell yourself short in your college essay.

Your college essay is not the time to be shy about your accomplishments. We aren’t saying to launch a brag-fest and throw all humility out the window, but don’t hide your shimmer. It sometimes helps to think about yourself in the third person. How would your best friend or parent talk about your accomplishments? That framing can help you highlight all your awesomeness.

2. Don’t morph into someone else in your college essay.

It might be tempting to exaggerate or to add some sparkle that doesn’t represent the authentic you. Don’t do it! Be yourself. Don’t try to pose as the class president if that isn’t who you are. With the right brainstorm partner, we are sure you can find the right angle to highlight your own personal brand of original awesome.

3. Don’t try to be too quirky—showcase the authentic you in your college essay.

Another misstep that College Essay Coaches see is that the college essay author is trying to be too quirky or too original. If it’s not authentic to who you are, don’t lean into it. The best thing about college essays is that they highlight your authenticity and what you will bring to the college or university. It doesn’t have to be

4. Don’t rule out ideas for your college essay before you explore them.

It’s easy to nix ideas before you even dig into them, but we encourage you NOT to do that. Run your ideas by a thought partner. Get feedback from someone else about each one. Let them marinate for a while. Keep them in your back pocket in case you need to revisit them.  Peel back the layers to each idea before you send it to the trash can.

5. Don’t replicate your resume on your college essay.

The college admissions officer has seen your resume, read your application, and know what you’ve accomplished. Don’t repeat the whole rigamarole in your college essay. Use your essay to highlight something that is authentic to you, not just to reiterate with they already know. This is the time to highlight something new to them that makes you stand out.

6. Don’t skip out on editing your college essay.

We know, we know. We understand that you are sick of looking at your essay when you get close to the end. You are tired. You have worked on this one particular piece for months (and you hope to never see it again!). But don’t skip out on the editing. And don’t rely solely on yourself when editing. Our brains have a way of missing some obvious typos because we’ve seen our work so many times. A pair of outside eyes can catch mistakes that you may have missed.

If you are looking for additional support for your child’s college essay, The Community Classroom can help. Please visit this page for more details.

For further reading, please check out the following resources:


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