Grad School College Essays

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Just as there are noteworthy examples of excellent college essays that admissions offices like to publish, so are there cringe-worthy examples of terrible college essays that end up being described by anonymous admissions officers on Reddit discussion boards.

While I won’t guarantee that your essay will end up in the first category, I will say that you follow my advice in this article, your essay most assuredly won’t end up in the second. Read on to find out what makes an essay bad and to learn which college essay topics to avoid.

Some exceptions might be if you did something in a very, very different mindset from the one you’re in now (in the midst of escaping from danger, under severe coercion, or when you were very young, for example).

Or if your essay is about explaining how you've turned over a new leaf and you have the transcript to back you up.

So if you start with a terrible topic, not only will you end up with a bad essay, but you risk ruining the good impression that the rest of your application makes.

Some bad topics show admissions officers that you don’t have a good sense of judgment or maturity, which is a problem since they are building a class of college students who have to be able to handle independent life on campus.

Just as great personal statements combine an unexpected topic with superb execution, flawed personal statements compound problematic subject matter with poor execution.

The primary way to screw up a college essay is to flub what the essay is about or how you’ve decided to discuss a particular experience.

Another way to mess this up is to ignore prompt instructions either for creative or careless reasons.

This can show admissions officers that you're either someone who simply blows off directions and instructions or someone who can't understand how to follow them.


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