Busting Admissions Myths: 4 Essay Questions Everyone Asks

What makes a great (admissions) essay?

Something totally real and unpretentious. Admissions officers want to get know the real you apart from a dizzying algorithm of numbers, extracurricular hours, and GPAs. Give them a slice of life that reveals who you are instead of something fake that you think sounds good. I wrote about cooking with my grandma—so simple it's almost cliche. But I used that anecdote to explore my immigrant identity and show what I’ve overcome.

What are some common personal essay mistakes?

Treating the admissions essay like an academic paper and coming off as stiff and fake (please don’t use a thesaurus to sound smarter). Or treating it like a second resume by listing every single bragging point instead of choosing one passion to focus on and digging into why that made them who they are today.

Should we all freak out about getting in?

I hope not! My mission is to take the stress out of the process by being your personalized coach. I remember how freaked out I was senior year and how much pressure I felt to get in. I still cringe when I think about it. I literally banished the TV from my room because I couldn’t afford any distractions. (I have a major early 2000’s culture gap to this day). And because more people are applying to college than ever before, it’s gotten even harder and more stressful. It's a terrible thing students have to go through.

How do you break out of writer’s block?

One of my favorite resources for this topic is former admissions officer Harry Bauld and his book On Writing the College Application Essay. My English teacher Mr. Poirier had a quote from the book posted on our classroom wall that said, "Write Now. Revise Later." I live by that mantra to this day. Believe it or not, even professional writers have writer's block. More than you think. The coolest thing about the writing process is that once we let our judgy subconscious take a breather, something miraculous happens on the page. But it takes time to get there. No matter how good or bad of a writer you think you are, start early. Most students go through multiple drafts before finding the right topic or hitting the right tone. Starting the summer before senior year, for example, gives you time to figure that out sans nervous breakdown.

Have any other burning questions? Ask away in the comments!