Custom Application Essays: Common Mistakes

OK. You have accepted that you need to go to college. You realize that you are not going to be able to make a decent living unless you have a college degree. You have taken all of their tests, filled out all of their applications, and now you discover that enrollment in your chosen school is limited. Whether you get in or not will now depend on, among other things, an application essay. You have no idea what an admissions essay could be. Is it about why you want to go to that school? Is it about why the school should let you in? No one ever taught you anything about admissions essays, and now you feel as if your entire life depends on getting it right. At the very least, you want to avoid the most common mistakes that others have made on application essays.

The following are common mistakes made on custom written application essays and how to avoid them.

An Application Essay Is NOT a Resume

When the Admissions or College Entrance Committee sits down to consider your essay, they will have a copy of your resume in front of them. It will not impress them to have a prose version as well. Application Essays are not allowed to be very long because the Admissions Committee has so many to read. Do not waste space with resume material, unless you have something new and relevant to your Application Essay to say.

An Application Essay Is NOT a Transcript

The Admissions Committee has a copy of your Transcript. You do not need to retype it into your Application Essay. You may include your GPA only if you are using it to support your claim that you will be an asset to the school.

Answer the Question

Admissions Committees want to know who you are and how their school can be improved by your being there. In order to uncover this information, a number of common Application Essay questions have been developed. Your essay should focus on the question you have been asked. If you have not been asked for your life story, the Application Essay is not the place to write your autobiography.

Do NOT "Lay It On" Too Thick

The Admisions Committee does not want to hear about how wonderful their school, faculty, football team, or the landscaping on their campus is. They already know that. They also do not want to read through several pages of excessive self-praise. They simply want to know who you are and why you believe you will be an asset to their school.

Writing an Application Essay - "Never Let Them See You Sweat"

The Application Essay is not the place to beg to be allowed to attend a particular school. You have worth and value, and you want the Admissions Committee to know that you will be an asset to whichever school you choose. In addition, if you have low self-esteem or suffer from self-doubt, do not include any hint of that in your custom application essay for college or university. Sentences beginning with "I may be wrong, but...," or "I am afraid that..." have no place in a well-written college entrance essay.

Double Check for: Spelling, Punctuation, Sentence Structure, and Passive Voice

If you are in competition with others for a scarce number of positions, you do not need to weed yourself out early simply on the basis of problems with spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, or sentences that are difficult to quickly read and understand.

Plan Your Application Essay and Stick to the Plan

Lack of structure, wandering thoughts, and jumping from topic to topic with no valid transition statement is as deadly to the Application Essay process as poor spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure. If your Custom Admission Essay feels rootless to the Application Committee, that is almost a guarantee that you will not be a student at their school.

If you can avoid these common Application Essay errors, there is every reason to believe that you will be more than a few steps ahead of the pack when the Admissions Committee sits down to decide which students they will invite to be part of the university experience at their school.

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