Be Careful: Some College Application Essay Advice Could Hurt You!

By Kim Lifton

I just read a news story on a reputable online site with the headline: “10 Topics to Avoid in a College Essay.” Lately, I’ve read too many similar stories, most filled with advice that won’t help but could hurt a student in the process of applying to college.

Because Wow Writing Workshop is part of the larger college admissions industry, we do what we can to keep up to date on trends. In the last month, we’ve seen articles implying that the only way to write a good story is to say it out loud and record it, that certain questions on the Common App are better than others, and that your essay must demonstrate leadership and initiative. Nonsense!

The subject is secondary. Don’t just tell colleges what happened to you or what you experienced. Instead, find a story about you and explain why it matters;  let colleges know what you gained from your experience.

Beyond grades and test scores, colleges want to know something genuine about you. What makes you who you are? How did you get there?

No subject is better or worse than another.

At Wow, we speak often with college admissions officers throughout the U.S. to find out what they want to read, what they expect from students and what excites them. Most admissions reps say the same thing time and again.

They want to read a story that is focused, genuine and written in a student’s words and in a student’s voice. Each college wants to know who you are and whether you’ll fit in at their school. They are tired of boring essays that are sanitized from too much editing. They don’t want to read about your spectacular relatives who have won international prizes or saved orphans from burning house fires.

They want to read about one person – YOU!  Who are you? And why should they care?

Watch our video interviews to find out what admissions officers have to say firsthand.

Kim Lifton is president of  Wow Writing Workshop. Take advantage of our SUMMER SPECIAL! Wow Online – College Essay, the first self-guided online tutorial for writing college entrance essays, is just $99 till July 1. That’s a $50 savings. Hurry! The price goes up to $149 on July 1. Try Wow Online – College Essay FREE for one week.