Tip for Colledge Admissions Essays

Topics: Subject, Writing, Word Pages: 7 (2395 words) Published: September 22, 2013
Tip #1: Wordiness and Repetition in College Admissions Essays

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In college admissions essays, wordiness is by far the most common stylistic error. In most cases, students could cut one-third of an essay, lose no meaningful content, and make the piece much more engaging and effective. Wordiness comes in many forms with many different names -- deadwood, repetition, redundancy, BS, filler, fluff -- but whatever the type, those extraneous words have no place in a winning college admissions essay. In the brief sample above, all the words in yellow can be pared back or cut entirely. The near repetition of the phrase "the first times I set foot on the stage" entirely saps the passage of energy and forward momentum. The author is merely spinning his wheels. Consider how much tighter and more engaging the passage is without all the unnecessary language: "Theater did not come naturally to me, and I felt remarkably self-conscious and nervous the first few times I set foot on stage in the eighth grade. My best friend had talked me into auditioning for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet." Tip #2: Vague and Imprecise Language in College Application Essays

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Watch out for vague and imprecise language in your college application essay. If you find that your essay is filled with words like "stuff" and "things" and "aspects" and "society," you may also find that your application ends up in the rejection pile. Vague language can be removed easily by identifying what exactly you mean by "things" or "society." Find the precise word. Are you really talking about all of society, or a much more specific group of people? When you mention "things" or "aspects," be precise -- what exact things or aspects? In the sample above, the writer has created a passage that says very little. What endeavors? What abilities? What things? Also, the writer could be much more precise than "activity." The writer is trying to explain how basketball has made her mature and develop, but the reader is left with a painfully fuzzy sense of how she has grown. Consider the greater clarity of this revised version of the passage: "Not only do I find basketball fun, but the sport has helped me develop my leadership and communication skills, as well as my ability to work with a team. As a result, my love of basketball will make me a better business major." Tip #3: Clichés in College Admissions Essays

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Clichés have no place in a college admissions essay. A cliché is an over-used and tired phrase, and use of clichés makes prose unoriginal and uninspiring. With your essay you are trying to get the admissions officers excited about you and your essay topic, but there is nothing exciting about clichés. Instead, they diminish the essay's message and reveal the author's lack of creativity. In the example above, the author is writing about her brother, a person who has had a major influence on her life (in response to essay option 3 on the Common Application). The author expresses her praise of her brother, however, almost entirely in clichés. Instead of her brother sounding like "one in a million," the applicant has presented phrases that the reader has heard a million times. All those clichés will quickly make the reader uninterested in the brother. Consider how much more effective this revision of the passage is: "Throughout high school, I have tried to emulate my brother. He takes his responsibilities seriously, yet he is generous when...
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