Aim High, Do Your Best, Make the World a Better Place, and Avoid Clichés

By Ryan Hickey + updated on December 15th, 2009

Today’s post is simple and a bit more lighthearted than what we’ve done so far. Try and count the clichés in the sample essay presented below. While this is obviously an extreme example that has been crafted specifically for the purpose of helping you avoid overused phrases/ideas, you may be surprised to find some similarities between this piece and your own. If you notice any such similarities, I encourage you to see if you can make your point in a more personal and original manner.

With that, I present to you the world’s most clichéd college essay:

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa

An issue of local or national importance that is important to me is poverty. I volunteer every week at my town’s soup kitchen, where I serve meals to the homeless. Interacting with those people has opened my eyes to the devastating impact of poverty. In addition, my fellow volunteers have helped me recognize the value of hard work. As a result of those experiences, I have developed a commitment to combating poverty. Whether I feed one person or a hundred, I know I will be doing my part to make the world a better place.

Ever since I was little, I have been a compassionate person. In addition to volunteering at the soup kitchen, I try to help others in many different aspects of my daily life. I guess you could say that I am passionate about being compassionate. Whether it is my family, friends, or total strangers, I take a sincere interest in the lives of others. Because of this trait, I have actively involved myself in volunteering. Beyond my work at the soup kitchen, I also donate my time to Habitat for Humanity, my church, and tutoring disadvantaged students at our local elementary school. By serving others, I make a difference in my city. These experiences have also helped me learn to appreciate all that I have been given; I no longer take anything for granted and am committed to giving back to my community. I know that doing so is the right thing to do.

I intend to focus on a career that will allow me to help people on an even larger scale. As a result, I want to become a doctor. With a medical education, I will be able to make the greatest possible difference in the lives of others, particularly the disadvantaged and impoverished. After earning my medical degree, I will spend time volunteering as a doctor in a third-world country. There, I will use my talents to alleviate suffering and restore optimism to those who have lost hope. Because the world is more interconnected than ever before, my efforts abroad will positively impact people across the globe.

If I am admitted to Clichéd University, I will always do my best, both in and out of the classroom. I am confident in my ability to succeed, and though I know I will occasionally struggle along the way, I will learn from my mistakes and never give up. At your school, I will finally have access to the tools that will allow me to make my dreams come true. With those, I will strive for excellence and work hard to improve the lives of others, both now and in the future.

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Ryan Hickey

Ryan Hickey is Managing Editor of Peterson's & EssayEdge and an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants. He enjoys sharing his knowledge to aid others in achieving their educational goals and, when he gets a break, loves hiking and fly fishing with his wife and two border-collie mixes.

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One Response to “Aim High, Do Your Best, Make the World a Better Place, and Avoid Clichés”

  1. [...] you want to avoid when writing your application essay. For more on clichéd essay issues, check out this post on the EssayEdge blog as [...]

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