The Ivy Coach Daily
September 27, 2023
What English Teachers Get Wrong About Writing College Essays
Originally Published on October 17, 2011:
English teachers are the worst. When we at Ivy Coach conduct PostMortems with students who did not work with us after they’ve been deferred or denied in the Early Decision/Early Action round, we often see the fingerprints of English teachers in students’ college essays. How can we be so sure, Detective Ivy Coach, you wonder?
English Teachers Encourage Formal Writing in College Essays
Yes, You CAN Use “But” and “And” to Start a Sentence
English teachers often advise students to write formally. Maybe they’ll put a red line through the word “but” and replace it with “however.” Perhaps they’ll cross off the word “and” because they were taught that sentences should not begin with a coordinating conjunction. But — notice we just started a sentence with “but” — it can be pretty powerful to begin a sentence with “and” or “but.” And — see what we did there again? — college essays should be written colloquially. Heck, fragments can even be quite powerful at times.
English Teachers Don’t Understand the Objective of College Essays
While English teachers might be great at revising academic papers on Jane Austen or Norman Mailer, they tend to make college essays sound like formal academic papers. They also often fail to understand how a Personal Statement must showcase a student’s singular hook — whatever it may be — and that supplemental essays should not only fit like puzzle pieces with the Personal Statement, never in a redundant way but always in a complementary way, and be uniquely tailored to each school.
So, a word of advice to college applicants everywhere: let English teachers stick to their English classrooms. Leave the brainstorming and revising of college essays to experts in the highly selective college admissions process.
Ivy Coach’s Assistance with College Essays
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