A Pet Peeve in College Essays

College Essay Pet Peeves, College Essays, College Admissions Essays
We’ve got quite a few college essay pet peeves. Learn one such pet peeve (photo credit: Bryan Y.W. Shin).

Every paragraph, every sentence, every word matters in college admissions essays. So often, students flippantly include words or phrases that can have a catastrophic impact on their cases for admission. And, so often, these students don’t even realize that they’ve just placed all of their great high school work in absolute jeopardy by including one word or phrase that rubs an admissions officers at an elite university the wrong way. Now of course, there are obvious words that students shouldn’t include. Words that paint a student as racist, homophobic, misogynistic, etc. should be avoided at all cost. But we’ll assume our readers implicitly know all that already. Today, we figured we’d focus on one specific term that we believe should never be included in any college essay. In fact, it’s one of our biggest pet peeves. So what is it?

Avoid the Term “Like-Minded” in College Essays

It’s the term “like-minded.” That’s right. Like-minded. Do our readers know how many students use this term in their college admissions essays? So, so, so many. In fact, if we had to guess, we’d say that 15% of applicants use this term at some point in their essays. That’s 1.5 out of every 10 applicants — that’s a lot! And if you’re wondering why we dislike this term so much, we want you to think about it, to mull it over for a few minutes before you read on. See if you can figure out why college admissions officers at our nation’s highly selective colleges wouldn’t be inclined to admit students who seek out like-minded students on their campus? Are you ready for it? Are you?

Elite Colleges Value Diversity of Thought

Because college admissions officers value diversity. Duh! But diversity isn’t just a breakdown of students by race, by socioeconomic background, by religion, and sexual orientation. Diversity also includes diversity of thought. Our nation’s elite colleges are diverse. So when a college applicant writes that he or she wishes to be surrounded by like-minded students — regardless of their intentions in using this phrase — what they are essentially saying is they want to surround themselves with students who think like them. But the purpose of attending an elite college is to be exposed to other thinkers, to other ways of thinking, ways that have been shaped by experiences in all sorts of environments around our world.

Do our readers now understand why using the term “like-minded” is not a good idea in college admissions essays? Let us know your super diverse thoughts by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.


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