Repetition

By Ryan Hickey + updated on August 18th, 2010

I hope everyone out there is having a great Wednesday.

Today, we’re going to take a look at the way content and style apply to your admissions essay. You see, at an extremely basic level, everything you write consists of two components: content and style. Content is what you’re writing about – the information….

Wait, what’s that? I’m simply repeating the information I provided in yesterday’s post? Well what’s wrong with that? It’s good information, isn’t it? So why can’t I just present it here again? It’s just as valid today as it was yesterday, and maybe repeating it will emphasize its importance.

While that may be true, it’s doesn’t justify me repeating yesterday’s post in today’s space. You’re reading this blog to get a broad cross section of advice about admissions essays and the overall application process. That means you don’t want to simply hear the same thing over and over again. You want to learn about different aspects of essay writing.

The same idea applies to your admissions packet. While you may have a few stories or points that you consider extremely important, you need to make sure that you’re not repeating those stories in multiple essays. Your application needs to show you to be a multifaceted applicant. You should be able to talk about various aspects of your past without constantly referencing one or two things that you’re particularly proud of or consider especially important.

This point applies to more than just your essays; you need to consider all parts of your application. Remember that the person reviewing it will have access to your transcripts, test scores, recommendations, and any other biographical information that you’ve submitted. As a result, you don’t need to spend time in your essays discussing what a great student you are or listing your entire work history. If you’ve provided that information elsewhere in your application, it’s best to avoid talking about it in your essays. Unless, that is, you need to elaborate on it in some way, or your essay prompt specifically asks you to comment on those issues.

Overall, just remember that your essays won’t be read in a vacuum; those who review your application will see the entire thing and will use all of those components to form a picture of who you are as an individual and an applicant. Thus, the less information you repeat, the better you’ll stand out as a person with a diverse background, interests, and skills.

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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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