7 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your College Application Essays

The tumultuous procedure of applying to colleges can be a bit stressful and frightening for high-school students. Most students find difficulty in making themselves stand out due to the fierce competition and low acceptance rates. Such a competitive scenario may give you jitters.

At the end of the day, your college application is the only way to exhibit your strengths, achievements, personality, and experience. Many times students end up facing rejection from colleges even when they are deserving. The misguided strategies that they adopt while writing their college application can be the reason for rejection.

Here are the seven biggest mistakes that students make while working on their college application essays.

1. Aim to complete the college application essay in a single day.

Students usually try to write an entire application essay in one day. It is necessary to take a lot of time to write, so you should aside a chunk of time to accomplish this task. The foremost thing is to plan out a rough draft in which you jot down everything starting with the basic step of brainstorming to the final step of proofreading and editing. Give each step equal levels of attention, time and hard work.

Pro tip: Schedule each day with assignments and try to complete within the assigned period. It is important for you to stick to the timetable. It does not matter even if you give yourself small assignments and work for only a few hours on a single day. The most important thing is that you should accomplish the goal for that particular day.

2. Writing your college application essay while keeping distractions nearby.

Today, technology is the greatest interruption in our daily lives. Mobile phones, televisions and computers are some of the biggest distractions that tend to interfere when you are working on an important project. When you are writing your college application, you have to brainstorm ideas, and examine them. Thus, focus and introspection are essential while you are handling this task.  Before you sit down to write college application, try to eliminate these distractions.

Pro tip: You can accomplish this task in the early hours of the morning. These are the hours during which you can concentrate on your project without getting disturbed by missing other activities.

3. Over-emphasizing your strengths, achievements, and experiences.

Many students tend to overemphasize their strengths and achievements to impress the admission committee. The fact is that such an application will not impress them. They are experts who can easily make out that you are over-exaggerating.

For instance, describing yourself as a star actor in a school play, but in reality, you did not make any actual contribution. Such an insincerity will only earn you a rejection. Instead, take this task as a golden opportunity to showcase your real achievements, strengths, and experiences.

Pro tip: While writing your college application, you should be sincere and genuine. A college application should describe both of your strengths and imperfections that portray your true self.

4. Don't try to sound like a writer.

Your college application essay should not have a writer voice. You have to write it in a simple language and be yourself.

Pro tip: Remember, the college application questions are to help the admission officer get to know about you. Write your college application as if you are talking to them. Avoid slang or unsuitable language. The language should be in a conversational voice and easy to read and comprehend.

5. Filling your application essays with too many details.

For the college application essay, there are strict word counts. However, students love to write ALL their experiences and stories in their application essay. Thus, they may end up including each tiny detail of their experiences, which may give their application incohesive. Instead, add only valuable information that helps you stand out from others.

Pro tip: Avoid mentioning a large number of topics in a single application. But if you still want to incorporate different experiences and stories into your application, then do it so in an orderly manner.

6. Using abstract concepts and famous quotes in the college application essay.

In school assignments, we often include abstract concepts. But college application essays are to be written in different ways. The entire application should remain focused on you. However, many students begin with Shakespearean quotes just to appear smart. The fact is the admission committee wants to hear from you and not from other great people; the first line that admission officer reads should describe you and your ideas. The ultimate aim is to show the admissions officer the significant aspects of your personalities. You have to keep your discussions affixed to selective aspects of your experiences, beliefs, and desires.

Pro tip: You may feel a little uncomfortable, but still use “I” at least once or twice in the paragraph.

7. Taking your parents assistance in brainstorming ideas.

Parents can be a great help but still avoid taking their help. They may become too emotional while writing the application essay. They may end up telling you a list of all of your achievements and experiences, which may not be so important. Just say thanks but no thanks to your parents and stick to your rough outline and follow your introspection.

Pro tip: If you need some help, you can get assistance from your teacher or an ideal person who is not a close relative and with whom you are comfortable. He should be smart and thoughtful to help you wisely formulate an interesting story. You can also take a help of a professional who can guide you throughout the process.

If you follow the above guidelines and avoid these mistakes, there is a higher possibility that you may earn acceptance from your dream college.

Best of Luck!


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