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Up Close and Personal: Writing your College Essay

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

I have been editing college essays for about two years now, and I've made a list common errors students make when writing their essays.

1. The Very Personal Statement

I know it's called a personal statement, but it's not your diary; you don't have to tell your reader everything. Your essay is a carefully curated series of events that you arrange in order to tell a very specific story. If a personal detail does not add to the story -- or if it can go without taking much from the essay -- it shouldn't be there.

You can write about pretty much any personal experience in an essay if it adds to the larger point you want to make. A story about building sandcastles at the beach might be a mundane event, but it works as a poetic first paragraph if you're applying to an architecture program. A relationship with a grandparent, a fight with a friend, your first pet -- these are all familiar stories that you can weave into your essays. Make them personal, but make the personal relevant.

2. Their Goes Your Acceptance Letter!

See what I did there? Don't do that in your essays. Check for grammatical errors, weird sentences, and please, please, paragraph. Paragraphs are your friends.

3. I'm the Best!

No, you're really not -- but you can be. When you write your essay, discuss your strengths and show your reader they'd be lucky to have you in their classroom. However, your personal statement/study objective must also reveal the reason why further education is a necessary step for you to achieve your goals.

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