If you spend some time reviewing college essay examples on the Internet, you will likely notice that many of them share some similarities. That does not mean that those are things you should also do yourself when you’re writing an essay. Instead, those are often things that are overdone in college essays. As a result, you should be careful to notice repetition as you look at college essays examples.
While reviewing samples can be a great way to learn about college essays, it can also end up causing you to incorporate overdone things into your own essays. Whenever you need to write something for a college application, you want to ensure that you’re being unique. You still want to tell your own personal stories in your own way even if you’ve reviewed samples beforehand. Learning how to look at college essay examples will help you with this, especially if you know how to identify clichés.
1. Starting your essay with a quote
This is an extremely popular way to start a college essay, but it’s almost never a good idea. Unless the prompt specifically asks you to provide a quote for some reason, you should avoid this tactic. The admissions committee wants to hear from you, not Mother Teresa, Gandhi, General Patton, or some other oft-quoted celebrity.
2. Talking about a relative or friend dealing with a health problem
These types of stories find their way into admissions essays quite often, so you regularly see them in college essay examples. Even if something like this has happened to you in your life, you should avoid talking about it in an essay. Doing so will make you blend in with other applicants, past and present, who discuss similar events.
3. Sports stories that involve a difficult loss or improbable victory
Even if you’re a passionate and/or skilled athlete, sports stories are all over in college essays examples. That means that they’re also all over in essays that are actually submitted to schools. Rather than talking about the clichéd difficult loss or improbably victory, find a way to discuss your sport differently. Possibilities include describing a particularly rewarding practice session or a time when you learned something important about an opponent.
4. Narratives about “finding yourself” or “learning something” through international travel
Again, stories like these are very common in college essays. No matter how amazing your trip was, recognize that many other applicants have been through similar travels; that means they’re frequent topics in college essays. If you’re going to talk about travel, find a way to make your story unique. Make sure you share vivid details and draw a personal conclusion from the story.
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