Words in College Essays

Language in College Essays, Language in Admissions Essays, College Essay Words

There’s an interesting article in “Business Insider” on the power of certain words in college essays.

At Ivy Coach, we love data. We consider ourselves to be the purveyors of Ivy League admissions data. Nowhere will you find more comprehensive information on admissions statistics than on Ivy Coach’s website. And we’re always intrigued by a Moneyball approach to highly selective college admissions. After all, it’s an approach that has worked successfully in a number of fields — from baseball to finance to medicine and so many fields in between.┬áBrian of our firm has even made the case that the business of television would be better served with a data-driven, Moneyball approach.

So it was with great interest that we read a piece in “Business Insider” written by Abby Jackson entitled “To score an acceptance into Harvard or Stanford, you might want to use these words in your admission essay.” We of course were a bit skeptical upon reading the article’s title, but there is some fun information in the piece. Should it in any way influence how a student goes about writing his or her Personal Statement for Harvard or Stanford? Absolutely not. But it’s intriguing nonetheless. As referenced in the piece in “Business Insider,” “The words “cancer,” “difficult,” “hard,” and “tough” were more common in essays at Harvard, while “happy,” “passion,” “better,” and “improve” were more common at Stanford, according to Fast Company.”

That’s truly interesting to us. But does that mean that you should insert words like ‘hard’ or ‘tough’ in your Personal Statement as you seek to gain admission to Harvard? No. That would be utterly ridiculous. As would inserting words like ‘cancer’ in your Personal Statement as you seek to gain admission to Stanford. We advise students to just write great essays and worry not about incorporating words like these. But we think the finding is interesting nonetheless! It simply has no practical application to highly selective college admissions.

And, for regular readers of our college admissions blog, they know that the best college essays are about absolutely nothing! We do mean it.

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