Your writing style in college essays matters a great deal. Too often, we read essays of college applicants that are cluttered with words like “however,” “nevertheless,” “nonetheless,” and “thus.” These are words that we generally advise against using in college essays. Why’s that? They are inherently formal and college essays should have an informal, colloquial tone that gives college admissions officers insights into who you are as an applicant — not into what your ninth grade English teacher taught you about thesis statements. You don’t need a thesis statement in your college essays. Do you need a theme? Absolutely. But you don’t need one major point that can be summed up in one sentence. Your essay should instead be a window into your world.
So scan through your college essays. Do you start at least one sentence with “however?” Maybe you start a paragraph with the word. Don’t do that. See if you can reformulate the sentence without this superfluous word. We bet you can. You’d be surprised just how unnecessary such words can be sometimes. Just because your English teacher encouraged you to use such words, that doesn’t mean you should — especially in the highly selective college admissions process.
Does that mean that your college essays should be so colloquial that they’re grammatically incorrect? No. Absolutely not. There is a way to be colloquial — conversational — without being grammatically incorrect. The rules of grammar still apply to your college essays so don’t try and formulate your own grammatical style. That won’t work. Just try and veer a little bit from the stringent rules of your high school English teachers as their advice is often not helpful when it comes to college essays.