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Top Ten College Essay Do's & Don'ts
Summary: College Essay Guide
Top Ten College Essay Do's & Don'ts

Adapted from Natavi Guides, Students Helping Students

  1. Leave yourself enough time to think about and write your essays. Definitely start before the fall of your senior year. Your first draft should not be your last.
  2. Look over your applications before you start to see if any essay topics are repeated; you may be able to minimize the number you have to write. With that said, recycle essays carefully to make sure they are appropriate and accurate. For example:  Don't forget to change the college name in the essay from one college to the next.
  3. Stay on topic. Make sure to answer the question posed by each essay topic.
  4. Write about something that matters to you and that you care about. Be positive. Don't whine; when writing about a difficult experience, focus on what you've learned from it and how it has made you stronger/smarter/more interesting.
  5. Be honest and genuine in your essay. Don't try to write what admissions officers want to hear. Play up your achievements, but don't exaggerate.
  6. When writing about an experience or person, don't just describe it or them, focus on how your life was impacted in a significant way as a result.
  7. Sound like a person when you write. Big words and overly formal sentences can make your essay sound stiff and forced. Avoid cliche's; they take away from the genuine and honest nature of your essay.
  8. Have someone you trust, like your teachers, counselor, parent or relative read your essay and listen to their feedback.
  9. Read your essay as if you were the admissions officer. Ask yourself what it tells about you as a person. Does your personality and character come through?
  10. Proofread, proofread, proofread, and when you think it's perfect, proofread again. Don't rely on your computer's spellchecker.

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