College Essays: Some Do’s and Don’t's

There are many online tips from admission officers for writing a great college essay.  Here are a few!

  • It goes without saying that your essay needs to be written by you. Period.
  • Choose a topic that’s right for you.  Write about something that interests you. If you aren’t interested in what you’re saying, no one will be.
  • Share something about yourself, not everything about yourself.
  • Offer something only you could write and remember, the details make it interesting.  Stay away from your obvious passion.  We’ll learn more about you if you share something we’re unlikely to find out about you otherwise.
  • Stay away from fads/current events. Stick to your own experience.
  • Avoid writing about other people. We all have grandparents we love, but they’re not applying to college—you are.
  • Don’t try to be funny if you’re not.
  • Use a strong opener. Catch our attention right from the start.
  • Rarely is an essay about breaking school rules or a run-in with the law a good idea.
  • Your essay should not be one long excuse for academic issues.
  • Put away the thesaurus.
  • Show rather than tell.
  • EDIT—use spellcheck and then proofread carefully to catch their/there and it’s/its kind of mistakes.
  • Get someone to proofread, but don’t let that person over edit and make it stale.
  • Make it your best, most correct writing.
  • Be bold. You’ve got a great essay in you!

Common Application Essay Prompts

The Common Application prompts are updated around March of each year. Check your Google Classroom for essay supports and tips on completing your essays. The Common Application website has very detailed information. Check the Common App Training Resources to view introductory guidelines for filling out and submitting the Common Application.

You've Written Your Essay, Now What?

Proofread, proofread, proofread! And then proof it again. Perhaps a final grammar check is in order? Visit the MASH to talk with an English teacher about your essay. If you would like the CRC to read it and give you feedback, share your essay with Ms. Murphy or Mrs. Cardinale or stop by the CRC. Your counselor, teachers and friends who have been through the application process are great resources as well.