You have identified that scholarship opportunity that you strongly feel you qualify for. You have all it takes and your documents are ready, but wait, the selection panel has said that you have to write an essay for the entry.
Before you start typing, you should understand that the essay is a thinking test and NOT a writing test. It is proper for you to understand what they NEED so that you can weed out the common college entry essay mistakes that can ruin your chances.
You do not have to be a newspaper editor with decades of experience to produce a qualifying essay for your application.
The selection panel has already seen your academic and personality prowess, now they want to know how you think, your personal experiences, your way of handling issues, and how you will fit into their system.
Give your essay the best, it is the part of the application process you can fully control
This is the part of the application process that you have total control over, so I advise that you take your time and strive to produce a winning essay that will stand out from the rest of the essay.
In essence, you need to write up an essay the person analyzing the essay will preserve it aside to come back later for a better read when more relaxed.
If you are able to do that through your essay, you are almost guaranteed of getting the scholarship.
There is simply no formula or trick of writing a winning essay due to the diversities that exist among people. People think differently and have different experiences.
In the same way, different people express themselves differently. It is this sense of uniqueness that will set you apart from the crowd.
You do not need to listen to clowns who will be trying to sell you “wonder tricks on how to get a winning essay.”
Given the uniqueness that exists within the diverse population, it is impossible to outline a combination of factors that will work for all cases.
However, you can improve your essay and improve your chances by minimizing the following mistakes:
The 21 college entry essay mistakes
1. You are trying to be someone you are not.
The admission officers do not expect you to be someone else. They are intelligent and will map the person you are trying to portray with the person whose credentials are on the documents.
Try as much as possible to be natural and never strive to bring up ideas or thoughts, as this will water down your personality.
After all, the admission officers are not looking for some genius who is interested and committed to every cause, has no faults and plays every imaginable sports.
Let things flow naturally. Avoid the temptation of trying to portray yourself as being extraordinarily different if you are not.
2. You choose a topic that you are not passionate about.
You may think that the college only care about your participation in voluntary projects and community projects but that is not entirely true.
In as much as they care about community service, if that has not played a major role in shaping you; do not waste your time writing about it.
Find some subject that inspires you every time and write about it.
3. You fail to answer the question that the panel is asking.
Many students have a template from which they develop personalized essays when sending out applications.
This is a good practice, as it will save you time when you sit down to start writing. You need to be cautious though since the recycled essays may fail to answer the specific questions asked by the selection panel.
Your essay should clearly and satisfactorily answer the question to give the impression that you patiently read and clearly understood what was expected of you
4. You are talking too much about your life.
The panel usually gives you a limit on the number of words you can write. Do not go on throwing in any experience you have had over the last ten years.
Typically, an essay of 500 words should contain just two experiences/accomplishments. Just share a slice of your life and remain focused.
5. You fail to share something about yourself.
You may choose to do a book review as your college entry application essay.
However, you must not forget to connect the plot to yourself so that the panel can draw out something about you from the plot you have written.
You must always NEVER forget to remember that the purpose of the essay is to tell the panel something about yourself that is not captured in the application.
6. You forget who your readers are.
Many students are carried away by emotions, forget their audience halfway through the essay, and start to address the panel casually as one would write to a friend.
This is an official matter and you should treat it as such. The best way of finding out if the tone of your essay is to ask someone more mature have a look at it, preferably a professional in any conservative field.
7. You fail to think out everything before you start writing.
Avoid the trap of diving straight into content before you map out what you want to talk about. Find a topic that inspires you most and then sit down to map out what you want to say.
8. You have a horribly boring introduction.
Avoid repeating the question asked when you start writing the essay.
Do not be blunt when you start writing; instead, write something that will hook the reader in and keep them concentrated in reading what you have written.
9. You repeat the contents of the application form.
Your essay is not an application form, neither is it your resume. The essay should be an essay and nothing more.
You earn no extra points by repeating what has already been said; if anything, it makes you look very slow.
Use the essay to elaborate what you could not say in the application form or the resume.
10. You do not write to the specific college.
Make sure that you write about a particular college, the reasons why this particular college stands out, and how you have had (or expect to have) a personal experience with the university.
Avoid generic statements such as, “the university offers quality education.”
11. You are trying to make too many points and not being specific.
Identify a few concise points and think them out logically. Write a comprehensive essay around these few points.
Writing many incomplete points does your essay more harm than good. Be specific about the subject you are tackling and avoid foraying into other subjects.
12. You are oversharing personal information.
Do not be stupid, when the panel asks you to share something about yourself, do not go to the extent of talking about how you got drunk and messed your friend’s apartment the last time you were invited to party.
This will give you an automatic disqualification, especially if the essay serves to reveal your character as callous and malicious.
13. You lose touch with the information on the application form.
Your essay should be a continuation of the application form. The panelists should be able to see the connection between the two.
If you write an essay about something you are passionate about, mention this hobby in the application.
14. You fail to go deep enough.
Ensure your essay is detailed enough to show the motive behind certain actions you are trying to talk about. The best way to go about this is to keep asking yourself, “why?”
15. You resort to gimmicks.
Some applicants have sent gifts, music, or even cash in the envelope with their applications.
Interesting as it may sound, some applicants have sent a single shoe to signify that they have one shoe in the door.
These, especially sending money will give a wrong impression of you. Kindly consult your counselor to see if an idea is acceptable or not. You should avoid these gimmicks.
16. You get no feedback, or too much feedback.
Your essay should be satisfactory to address all the issues raised. Ensure you get the opinions of other people, especially your parent, your teacher, your mentor, or your peer.
At the same time, you should get just enough feedback because too much input from others will confuse you. Limit the number of those you consult to two or three.
17. You rule out common topics.
Certain topics are very common with the admission essays. Such topics as touching on family or relationships are very common that the panelists see them every time.
Do not rule them out just because they are common. Rather, try to write these common topics in a way no other person has written them.
Do not write the way every other person would write about these common topics, personalize it and make it unique.
18. You are forcing humor.
Do not force humor into your essay. Only try this if you are naturally funny and you know how to portray things on a lighter note.
It is better to have a flat essay than to have an essay that ends up offending your reader. Be cautious.
19. You rush to write the essay at the very last minute.
Avoid the last minute rush by starting early, developing your script and refining it until you are confident that it has been properly fine-tuned.
Take your time to write about the topic you have chosen, take some time off it and then come back with a fresh perspective.
20. You fail the rule of thumb test.
If you put your thumb over your name on the essay and replace your name with another name and the essay still reads logically and flawlessly, you need to do away with that essay because it is too generic.
Your name should be the only name that can fill that gap because of the personalized experiences.
21. You totally forget to proofread your work.
Avoid ending up with the wrong college name on your essay by by proofreading your work.
Small mistakes such as grammar, spelling, and punctuation are very serious in a college entrance application essay that you can avoid by taking time to proofread your work.
You should possibly have someone proofread your work before you submit it.
Finally, ensure that you spend enough time on your application process. The essay is just one part of the application process.
You need to develop a totalitarian view of the process and ensure all your details are accurately captured in the application form. Prepare well for the interview and put everything in place.
By eliminating these common college entry essay mistakes, you substantially improve your chances of being considered for the opportunity.
You can always ask for an opinion from someone whose opinion you regard highly. If this article has been of help to you and you feel that I can help you with the essay writing process, let me know.