A college application essay will be required if you are trying to enter any kind of four-year university – it may even be required for some vocational and technical schools. This is the reason why it is so important to write an essay that will resound enough with the admissions officer that he or she will give you a big stamp of approval. Most of the time, though, it isn’t so much about what you should put in your essay, as it is about what you shouldn’t include in your essay. There are actually many things that you should refrain from when it comes to your application essay. Here are five major things to avoid in your college application essay.

  1. Don’t beg for sympathy. Your essay shouldn’t be a plea for help – you don’t want the college admissions officer to feel bad for you. Undoubtedly, this will feel manipulative and it will show that you may not be college material – or at least material for the specific college you are applying for. So, make sure to avoid any sob stories or tragic circumstances without resolve.
  2. Don’t try to be edgy for edgy’s sake. There is a difference between being intellectually provocative and just provocative. You don’t want the college admissions officer to read the essay and feel put down or insulted. If you have a certain argument, you want to use the right words to say exactly what you mean. If you come off as overtly inciting, you will be immediately deemed an unfit candidate and your application will be denied. So, refrain from using words that are too harsh – and do not use curse words or profane language.
  3. Stick with a structure. A college essay should have some sort of structure – it shouldn’t be a rambling and incoherent collection of paragraphs. Ideally, you want to have a solid introduction paragraph that gives the reader an idea as to what you are going to talk about in the essay. After your intro, there should be the body paragraphs, which talk about your thesis in more depth. Finally, you want a conclusion that gives a summary and wraps everything up for the reader.
  4. Follow the prompt. If you are asked to write about a certain subject or if you are asked to answer a certain question, you want to stick with that specific prompt and you don’t want to veer too far away from it. The college is asking you these questions to determine how well you do when it comes to direction or thinking critically about a specific topic. The moment you veer away is the moment the admissions officer loses interest.
  5. Don’t go overboard. In a college admissions essay, you want to avoid blabbering. An essay can easily become too long if you try to force the word count. So, you want to create an outline before you write – that way you can meet the word count requirement without pushing it. In the end, an essay that seems forced will not be a good read and you could be denied admittance to the college you are applying to.