Making simple spelling and grammar errors.
Missing a comma here or there isn’t going to ruin your application, but too
many spelling and grammar errors are distracting and can leave an admissions
officer confused about what you’re trying to say.
● Relying on spell-check. There, their and they’re; too, two and to; rose and rows; bored and
board. Spell check on your computer will not catch everything – but you (and
another reader) should.
● Using vocabulary that you
normally wouldn’t use. Doing so can make your essay
sound contrived and fake. The essay needs to have your voice coming through
loud and clear – throwing in vocabulary words that sound out of place could
annoy or distract an admissions reader.
● Answering the question that
is asked of you, and then some. For example, if you
want to write about a significant experience, you should do just that. Don’t
write about two experiences that are completely unrelated, just to give
admissions officers more to read about you. It will make your essay too long
● Or, not answering the
question at all. You could write a masterpiece, but if
it doesn’t answer the question being asked, admissions officers won’t be
impressed. Be sure to read the prompt thoroughly before crafting your response.
● Assuming the admissions
officer has an extensive knowledge of pop culture.
References to hit TV shows, your local town hangout, clubs at school or
research projects, without any context or explanation, could be confusing. You
never know who will be reading your essays, so it is always best to provide
some extra explanation.
● Avoiding the word “I.” You don’t need to start every sentence with “I”, but you shouldn’t be
afraid to use it either. Remember, the essay should be about you!
Using too much humor. It could be good, for an
appropriate essay topic, to let a bit of light humor (perhaps in parentheses)
come through in your writing, but this isn’t stand-up. You don’t want the essay
to be a joke, after all.