College Essay Myth #2: Your College Essay Must Sound Professional

Rising seniors, you worried that your essay won’t be good? Don’t fret. As I told you in the last blog, you don’t need an impressive topic to impress admissions officers.

Here’s another tip:

Myth 2: Your college entrance essay should sound sophisticated, like Hemingway or a college professor.

If your essay does not sound like you, admissions pros will be unimpressed, and it might not help you. Please don’t try to sound different from the person you are. Hemingway is not applying to college; you are. You do not want you to sound like any famous author, or your favorite intellect.

Fact: The college essay is your story, and it should be written using your words, and in your voice. You are 16 or 17, a high school senior, and you should sound like one. Not your mom. Not your dad. Not your English teacher. Not the writer down the street. And not me, the writing coach.

Ditch the thesaurus, too. Write your essay with the words and expressions you use in everyday conversations with your friends.

“I wish I saw more of a thoughtful voice of a 17-year-old,” said Duke University Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag. “By the time the application comes to us, many of them have gone through so many hands that the essays are sanitized.”

Stay tuned for Myth No. 3

About the author: Kim Lifton is President of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communications and content marketing company. Wow students get into their top-choice colleges year after year.  Let the national experts on the college essay guide you to your best story, and improve your chances of getting into the college of your dreams. Want to find out how to find a great topic and make your essay good? Watch this video, College Essay Crash Course, The Common App.


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