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The Ivy Coach Daily

June 9, 2014

College Essay Season

The summer before senior year is the ideal time to work on college admissions essays (photo credit: Chensiyuan).

‘Tis the season to get started on college admissions essays! Rising seniors, when school’s out for summer, when you’ve put down all your pencils and your books, it’s time to get started on your college admissions essays. Don’t wait until the fall of your senior year when you’re inundated with schoolwork. Don’t wait until you’re busy with after-school activities and cramming for an AP Calculus exam. Do them over the summer, when you’ve got some more time on your hands and you’re entirely less stressed.

And if you think you don’t need assistance with your college admissions essays, we beg to differ. And no, your English teacher, mommy, daddy, your neighbor two doors down, or the clown who performed at your fourth grade birthday party likely aren’t the experts you need. And by likely we mean definitely not. But if you had a choice between the clown and your high school English teacher, our money’s on the clown. Why’s that, you ask? Because English teachers have a habit of helping students write the absolute worst college essays we’ve ever read. Many times, they read something like this:

“Riding the bench of my high school’s soccer team has taught me the value of teamwork, perseverance, and dedication. In spite a plethora of losses, my team demonstrated a camaraderie on the soccer field that was quite exceptional. Thus, I didn’t mind that I was riding the bench for I was a part of something greater than myself.” So what’s wrong with this? If you don’t already know, all we can say is oy vey! What isn’t wrong with this? It’s trite, trite, trite with a side of trite. English teachers love to start sentences with words like “however,” “nonetheless,” and “thus.” But starting sentences in such a way is the mark of a bad writer! And remember when your English teacher taught you to never begin a sentence with words like “and” or “but” as we did in the last two sentences of this post? Ignore them! College essays are meant to be written in a colloquial fashion. It can be quite powerful to begin sentences this way.

Oh — and stop using words like plethora. Everyone knows that “plethora” is an SAT word. You’re not impressing us with your big vocabulary…especially because so many students use this word in their college essay. And if they’re not using “plethora,” they’re using “copious,” another SAT word. Don’t use a ubiquitous, big SAT word when a small word will do. You see what we did there with ubiquitous?

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