On all of your college application essays — including Ivy League application essays — it’s important to avoid a number of mistakes that are the downfall of too many applicants. We’d like to pinpoint one mistake in this post in particular. We’re not going to specify right now what the mistake is exactly. We’re going to see if you can recognize it in the excerpt that we provide below:
So here’s the excerpt: “‘Freakonomics’ is one of my absolute favorite books. The book is about how the legalization of abortion with Roe v. Wade had a dramatic impact on reducing the crime rate. It’s also about how realtors never have your best interest in mind — whether you’re a buyer or a seller. Another of my favorite books is Harlan Coben’s ‘The Woods.’ ‘The Woods’ tells the story of a murder that happened at a summer camp twenty years earlier, a mystery that remains very much alive all of these years later.”
So what’s the issue? Is the issue that the college essay writer likes to read? Of course not! Is it that the writer wrote something very controversial in stating that Roe v. Wade led to a reduction in the crime rate? No. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing about a controversial theory proposed by a renowned rogue economist in a college essay. And is it bad to write about reading a work of fiction about a murder mystery? Definitely not. It’s a bestseller and a great book.
And so what’s the problem, you ask? It’s that the writer offers no opinions of their own. They simply write what the books are about. They offer no insights, no analyses of the books and why they liked them. Ivy League application essays shouldn’t be book reports for third graders — they need to shed light on the applicant. They need to hang a lantern on what the applicant is all about! The excerpt provided above does no such thing.