There are so many college essay writing mistakes that one can make. We’d like to showcase a couple for you to see if you’d even catch them. In the sample excerpt below, there are a few key mistakes that a college applicant makes. Can you spot the errors that can very well cost the applicant a shot in the incoming class? And if you can spot the mistakes, let us know why you think they are mistakes in the first place!
Excerpt: “Habitat for Humanity has immensely shaped my life. Building homes for poor families is an incredible experience, one that I’ll always remember. With so many families across our nation struggling to find jobs and pay their mortgages, it’s great to be part of the effort to create change in America! Having spent time with many of these families over the three years that I’ve worked with Habitat for Humanity and having spent a few hours with many of the families we help, I can understand their plight. I am a better person for this experience.”
Any luck spotting some major mistakes? If not, we’ll help point them out for you. First, the writer should show rather than tell. The writer states that Habitat for Humanity has shaped her life. That’s telling the college admissions counselor what she thinks she wants to hear. Instead of writing that it’s shaped her life, she needs to show in a less overt way how indeed it has shaped her life. Next, referring to the families who she’s helping as “poor families” reads as cold and out of touch with humanity. It paints the applicant as unlikeable and arrogant — something an applicant should absolutely avoid in the highly selective college admissions process!
And she spent a few hours with these families and therefore understands their plight? Seriously? She needs to get off her high horse. Just because she spent a few hours with a family struggling to pay the bills doesn’t mean she understands what it’s like to struggle to put food on the table. Oy vey. Oh and “I am a better person for this experience” — this is trite and college essays should be anything but trite. It’s the trap that too many college applicants fall into. Avoid being trite at all cost. And avoid being arrogant and unlikeable as well! These are major college essay mistakes you need to know about.