The Ivy Coach Daily

January 17, 2021

Red Flags in College Essays

We figured we’d point out some red flags in college admissions today.

Today, we thought we’d share with our readers some verbiage that college applicants so often include in their college essays — or elsewhere in their applications — that significantly hurts their chances of admission to highly selective universities. In our experience, these students don’t realize these words will essentially ding their chances of admission. Yet the second we point it out to them, they know. They know it hurt them. They know it jeopardized their chances. And they just want to kick themselves because it’s oh so obvious. So what are some examples of red flag verbiage to avoid in college essays? Heck, we’ll share with you five examples followed by our thoughts!

5 Examples of Red Flag Verbiage to Avoid in College Essays

  1. An article in The New York Times made me realize I wasn’t alone. So many other teenagers like me have also faced depression during these days of the pandemic. Don’t write about depression! Many of us have suffered from depression at some point during this ongoing pandemic. But don’t share it with admissions officers. They’ll never tell you this but they don’t want to offer admission to depressed students. And why? Because depressed students are more likely to be unhappy and transfer. They want happy kids!
  2. My brothers and I often have water gun fights. Don’t write about water guns. They’ll think you like guns. Yes, admissions officers are reading your application in 3-5 minutes. No gun fights. Even water gun fights. Admissions officers will think you’ll bring guns to their campus.
  3. While my school has not allowed me to take this course, I decided to take it outside of my school. Don’t bash your school. Admissions officers will think that if you can bash your high school, you can bash their college. Be positive. Just take the class outside of your school. No need to criticize!
  4. As a child, I used to love buildings Legos. Don’t write about you as a child. They want to learn about you as a young adult — not as a child.
  5. My grandmother was my hero. She was born in Austria and came to America with nothing but a loaf of bread. Don’t write about grandma’s story. Admissions officers want to learn about you!

These, of course, are merely five super common examples of how students — often unknowingly — hamstring their chances of admission to America’s elite universities. But you know what? We’ll share some more examples in the weeks to come so, loyal readers, do stay tuned!

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