Is your child about to send off college applications?
Here are three things they shouldn't do on the
college admission essay:
1. Read all the questions before starting an essay
If your child is applying to quite a few schools, it's a mistake to read all of the essay questions before beginning
a first draft of the personal essay.
Most of the essay questions will require an adaptation of the personal essay. It's best to write a draft of the personal essay and then adapt it slightly to each
For example, here are some sample
college admission essay questions:
"Evaluate a significant experience or achievement
that has special meaning to you."
"If you can meet anyone real or imaginary, who would it be?"
"Describe a situation in which your values were challenged."
You can see how many of the questions ask for general insight into your child's life and experience. Your child does not need to write three completely separate essays. If their personal essay is about an important teacher in their life, for example, they can add just a few sentences to tweak their essay to adapt it to the questions, saving them hours of time.
2. Try too hard
Many students try too hard either in content (being too dramatic or over the top about the setting or subject of their essay) or in tone (using an abstract, passive, or formal tone).
College admission officers want to admit students who have a genuine personality and who are passionate about their goals. The best way to get this across is to simply sound like a real person. They should avoid sounding too literary or analytical, like a textbook. Make sure your child's essay sounds like their natural voice and that the person on the page translates from the child that you know.
3. Stray too far from your personal story
Your child's essay should start and end with them. Even if your child's essay topic is about a dramatic or traumatic experience separate from their life, and the point is to express how that event affected their life, the bulk of the essay needs to be about your child. College admission officers want to know your child, period.
The essay topic can be a really dramatic story or something small. It can be a tearjerker or funny and lighthearted. No matter the subject, the essay needs to be about your child. Even if the point of the essay is to see an experience through your child's eyes, make sure your child's emotional and cognitive interpretation of that experience is the purpose of the essay.