We’ve covered a lot in our “Get it Write” series on college essays – why they are so important, what to focus on, and even a step-by-step guide on how to write a great one!

Following those steps will certainly point you towards success, but there are a few potential bumps along the way we want to help you avoid. 

Topics to Avoid on Your College Essays

While this isn’t a completely comprehensive list, it’s a good starting place to be mindful of before you begin writing. 

Bad grades

Don’t shine a light on times when you gave minimal effort. Make sure to highlight the hard work that you have put in since then. If you feel you absolutely must address a bad grade, avoid blaming others such as a teacher. Taking ownership and being accountable is the key here. 

School violations

This isn’t something a college needs to hear about from the student that’s applying. The past is in the past and it’s important you focus on the future. However, if you find yourself in a scenario where a college specifically requests your response or details, do so carefully. Remember to avoid blaming or excuses. Focus on the lessons learned, the growth from, and the positive impact on the future. 

“Saving the world”

While talking about your recent mission trip or volunteer work isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you want to make sure that you talk about it with authenticity and avoid cliches like this one. Also, keep in mind that this is an overused topic for college essays, so if you plan to use this, you will want to be especially intentional and strategic in capturing their attention.

Other countries being different

Discussing adventures outside of your home or comfort zone are great, just be sure to be sensitive as you discuss those experiences and talk about where you found common ground, rather than it being “so different.”

Anything polarizing

The current state of our culture, country, and the world will impact this one. Feel out the current climate and avoid hot button topics. Remember that you have little to no knowledge or control of the experiences or beliefs of the reader, so should you choose to pick a political or other polarizing topic, it could be very high risk/reward in nature.

Small Mistakes Can Make a Big Impact

While the errors listed below may seem small, they can say a lot about you as a person. When you’re doing the final read-through of your college essays, be sure to consider these items:

Length: This can be too long or short depending on the guidelines that were given. 

Poor grammar and spelling: Even if the grammar is correct, make sure it is proper for the context. 

Wandering: Stay focused, clear and concise within the essay.

Not authentic: Don’t be someone you’re not. It’s not about writing what you think they want to hear but telling your story. Show your unique personality, experiences and remember that colleges just want to get to know you!

Plagiarism: This is an obvious one, but make sure to have everything cited properly if needed. 

Tacked on ending: End with a big impact and leave it there. It should be eloquent and graceful…not a big conclusion sentence.

Last Takeaway

One of the most overlooked items in a college essay is anything that distracts the reader from the primary story or message. This can be leaving areas where the reader is curious about knowing more in a given situation, lack of detail, spelling, grammar, and thoughts that don’t flow. Keep an eye out for these things so they don’t take away from your primary purpose. 

We believe in you and are confident that you can write an incredible essay, but if you want a little more help along the way, then we’d love to support you! Reach out anytime for more information!