12 Myths About College Admission Essays

The college admission process can be stressful. You put so much pressure on yourself as you are putting together your application and essays because you want to get admitted to your dream school. The thing you will probably spend the most time on when preparing your application is your college admission essay. The essay can play a big role when college admission officers are making their decisions. However, there are a lot of myths about the college admission essay. If you write your essay believing some of the myths, it can actually hurt your chances of being admitted to the colleges you want to attend. There, before sending in your college admission essays, make sure you know these 12 myths are not true.

Myth 1: No one reads the admission essays.

Your application, including your admission essays, will be read by at least one person in the admission office. If it were just about grades and test scores, the college would not ask for an essay.

Myth 2: The essay is the most important part of the college admission process.

The essay is important, but colleges are looking for students who are well-rounded. Grades, test scores, extracurricular activities, and other things are considered by the colleges when they are making their admission decisions. The college admission committee will consider everything that is submitted when making their decisions.

Myth 3: The essay won’t make a difference.

There are a lot of factors that go into the college admission process. At some colleges, you might be admitted to the college with an average essay if you meet the GPA and test score expectations. However, for example, at more selective institutions, the essay can make the difference between you and someone with a very similar resume. Many selective colleges cannot admit all of the qualified applicants who send in applications. The essay can help you stand out from the crowd and help the admission committee admit you over other similar students. In addition, an amazing essay can help the admission committee want to take a chance on a student who they were on the fence about admitting.

Myth 4: An amazing essay will get me admitted.

Great essays that stand out will probably stay with the admission professional for many years. I can still remember some of the admission essays I read over ten years ago. However, if your grades don’t meet the expectations of the admissions committee, the essay might not make a difference. You have to make sure that you are a well-rounded student.

Myth 5: I have to use big words to prove myself.

The college admission essay is about you and should be in your own voice. Using large words to make you sound intelligent is not necessary. It is okay to use some synonyms to ensure you are not repeating the same words over and over. However, you do not need to go through your essay and change every word you think might seem too simple and exchange it with one of your SAT vocabulary words. If you do, the essay will probably not flow well and will seem forced. Your grades and recommendation writers can speak about your intelligence. The essay is your opportunity to let the admission committee know who you are.

Myth 6: I should use an essay I received an ‘A’ on.

College admission essays are personal statements. The essays are all about learning about who you are as a person. An academic paper you are proud of is great for your portfolio, but it is not a good fit for the college admission essay. The admission committee does not want to see a well-researched essay that talks about someone or something else. The only time you should use a paper you have written for school is when the writing exercise was a personal statement that answered one of the questions asked on college applications.

Myth 7: The essay should list all of my accomplishments.

There is no need to list all of the awards you have received, activities you do, and leadership position you hold. Your accomplishments are listed on your application and you do not need to share again. Again, the college admission essay is a way for the college admission officers to get to know you. Accomplishments are great, but they are not who you are. Share an important story, event, or person who has had an impact on your life and how it has impacted your life and made you who you are.

Myth 8: I should use the essay to explain my weaknesses.

There are other places that weaknesses can be addressed. For example, your recommendation writer can choose to write about your weakness. You can also use the “additional information” section to explain a red flag. The admission essay has specific questions that you need to answer. Stick to answering the question. The questions typically ask about a significant event or story. It is your opportunity to share something interesting or unique about yourself.

Myth 9: The essay must be written about an impressive topic.

Not necessarily. If there is something you are passionate about, any topic can work. The most important thing the colleges are looking at when reading the essays is you. The actual event you are writing about is not always important. It is about you and what you learned from the experience.

Myth 10: I should write on the same topic as someone who was admitted.

Every year there is a story in the news about an essay that got a student admitted to a college. For example, in 2017, a student chose to write her college admission essay on ordering pizza and was admitted to an impressive list of colleges. Just because the essay worked for that student doesn’t mean that it will work for you. Write about something you care about instead of trying to be someone you think the admission committee wants you to be.

Myth 11: Admission officers will not know if someone else wrote the essay for me.

Admission officers read hundreds or thousands of essays every year. When they read so many essays from students around the same age, an essay that is written by a parent or tutor will usually stick out. Admission professions can usually pick up on essays that are not written by the student. If the admission committee has a suspicion the essay was not written by you, it could affect your chances of being admitted.

Myth 12: No one can help me with the college admission essay.

While you should never have someone write the essay for you, it is definitely okay to get help. You can brainstorm ideas with others. You can ask a trusted person in your life to read the essay and make suggestions. However, make sure the essay stays in your voice.

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