The Ivy Coach Daily

July 1, 2014

What Makes A Bad College Essay

Don’t spell out all the details about an illness you suffer from in college essays unless you do it in a really powerful, unique way. And don’t write about grandpa’s illness either. This might be hard to hear, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

So what makes for a bad college essay? Telling cliche stories like that time you came back from injury to help your high school soccer team win the league title. Or that time you worked really hard to earn first chair violin. Or that service trip to Nicaragua where you installed whiteboards in classrooms across the country. Sure, that’s nice. But would it surprise you to know that an admissions officer at a highly selective college might think (1) you did this because you thought it would help you gain admission to highly selective colleges, (2) you lack creativity, and (3) mommy and daddy have money to send you to Nicaragua and lucky you got to go. Keep in mind, admissions officers don’t make a whole lot of money. Many of them would love to go to Nicaragua!

Don’t write about grandpa. Don’t write about your chronic illness. Don’t write about your grandpa’s chronic illness. Avoid bragging. Avoid words like “nevertheless.” Don’t listen to what your English teacher tells you. There’s a very good chance he or she doesn’t know what makes for a good college essay. We apologize to English teachers everywhere but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

While you’re here, read more about what makes for a bad college essay.

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