One common college essay mistake is for students to write what they think college admissions officers want to hear. Maybe that means tooting your own horn by writing about how smart you are (that’s a major college essay mistake that will more than likely lead to a denial at highly competitive colleges). Maybe it means writing about how you wake up every morning so excited to want to go to school to learn (a love of learning is certainly very important but “show don’t tell” and, also, be credible). But let’s point out one other mistake that students commit all the time.
You want to show that you can play well with others. While former Dartmouth College president James O. Freedman once sought to recruit students who preferred to pass days reading poetry under trees, it’s important for college admissions counselors to know that you get along well with your classmates and enjoy doing activities with them. They want people who are going to change the world and, in order to do so, it’s important to be good with people. While it shows intellectual curiosity to spend days reading under a tree, it’s equally as important to demonstrate that you’re easy to get along with.
College admissions counselors want students who other students will like. They want people who offer diverse opinions and may differ on issues with classmates but that doesn’t mean these same classmates shouldn’t not like them. College admissions is by no means a popularity contest. Highly selective colleges aren’t after the prom king and queen. But they are after intellectually curious students who also happen to be someone they wouldn’t mind spending time with.