today we’re going to be talking about five common app personal essay red flags let’s do it roll credits a little bit of a preamble before we get into the red flags these are just pointers they are guides there are no hard and fast rules about this.
so we’re going to talk about a bunch of different red flags that our academic experts run into all the time when they’re working with students every day improving their common apps to get into the school of their dreams but they’re not hard and fast rules right.
so if you want to talk with a crimson academic expert today who can help you with your personal essay to get you into the school of your dreams click one of the links below and you can set up on a free console with one of them but let’s dive into the red flags starting with red flag number one using your essay as a resume or cv a major red flag for a lot of personal essays.
that we see is just rattling off a lot of achievements talking about a time that you want to debate tournament talking about all the many things that you do every single weekend or at your internships over the summers that kind of thing the thing is is that’s essentially wasted space you’re not telling a compelling story and elsewhere in your common app you’re talking about those extracurricular achievements you’re talking about your jobs.
your internships your volunteer opportunities so don’t use your essay to rattle off achievements that we already see in another part of your common app being of course the activities list speaking of check out our top five common app activities list quick tips video which you can check out in the link below but the personal statement is a time for admissions officers to get to know who you are to learn a compelling story about you.
and a time in which you change and you became the person who you are today and about who you aspire to be in the future it’s not about rattling off your accomplishments you do that elsewhere don’t waste the space your resume is elsewhere red flag number two generic quotes at the top webster’s dictionary defines resilience as be the change you want to see in the world that’s not what your country can do for you etc etc etc all of these generic quotes.
that you could start your essay with and trust me there are hundreds of essays submitted to these universities every single year that start with a generic quote at the top all of those generic quotes anyone could write at the top start your essay with something that only you can write put your reader in the situation of whatever story you’re trying to tell and check out one of our upcoming videos about storytelling in your common app or situate the reader.
in a family tradition of yours or an experience that you had with a teacher or some other formative experience or story that you’re trying to tell a generic quote doesn’t tell them anything about you it just tells them about who wrote the quote don’t start with a generic quote there are plenty of much more interesting ways to start your essay.
red flag number three that we see is trying to sound too academic in an essay it’s really important to remember that your common app and college application essays are fundamentally different than anything that you’re writing in school it’s not a five paragraph essay about william faulkner it’s not a biology report about mitochondria i don’t know i haven’t taken biology.
in many many years it’s not academic so don’t try to make it sound like an academic paper using really long flowery words to try to make you sound particularly area dyed or eloquent including words like baridite or eloquent unless that’s how you actually talk if that’s how you talk and you’re trying to convey your personality.
then show that or if you’re doing some sort of creative twist on the essay by putting it in the form of an academic article that kind of thing those are completely legit but if you’re trying to sound like an academic instead of sounding like who you are then it’s not a genuine personal statement and it doesn’t therefore tell the admissions officers.
who you are which is the entire point of the essay don’t try to sound too academic it’s not a five paragraph essay for english class red flag number four is sounding different than the person who’s represented in the rest of your application now it’s a little tricky knowing exactly what that means but at crimson education.
a big thing that we tell our students every single day is that your application as a whole holistically should be tonally consistent and thematically consistent so if your common app personal statement your story that you’re telling sounds like a different person than the person who’s represented in your supplemental essays and in your activities list then there’s a disconnect there right.
when you read this essay and read all of your other supplements read your activities list read your letters of recommendation from your teachers if they’re gonna show those to you then it should all sound like the same person so that kind of goes with tip number three right if you’re not uh of you know flowery writer.
who’s uh who tries to publish articles and write short stories that kind of thing it’s gonna be a little weird if your personal essay sounds different on the flip side though we’ve had students who are really into science engineering computer science who use their who write about their personal statement in a way that uh shows that that’s what their passion is in a creative form that maybe parallels something that they learned.
in computer science that they taught themselves or something that they learned in their chemistry class have it be tonally consistent with what we’re seeing over the rest of your uh application and finally red flag number five is showing achievement rather than growth this goes a little bit hand in hand with tip number one right where i said that you shouldn’t just be listing off rattling off your resume items your cv items you’re not trying to show them how accomplished.
you are you do that in your activities list you do that with any other accolades that you had but more importantly than that your personal statement isn’t a time to show that you’ve achieved something spectacular right it’s a time to show a moment a story an experience in your life that cause you to change that cause you to grow that cause you to evolve colleges top universities.
ivy leagues ucs oxford et cetera they’re not assuming that they’re accepting someone who’s perfect who’s at the end of their growth who’s super super accomplished all the time they want to see someone who’s willing to change who has the propensity to change who can tell you about an experience in which they change so it’s always better to have an essay.
where you let’s say you’re a debater right i was a high school debater it’s much more compelling to talk about a tournament in which you failed learned something and grew rather than talking about in a tournament where you won first place and everything was well and good so use your essay to talk about your growth to talk about a time when you went from someone.
who you used to be to someone who you are now and where you’re aspiring to be someone even better even more different even more uh achieving of your values um and of your ethics so don’t tell a story about a time that you achieved tell a story about a time that you grew so those are just five common app personal statement or personal essay red flags.
as i said at the beginning they’re not the end-all be-all they’re not hard and fast rules and you know what you may break some of these rules right you might raise one of those flags but have a fun creative twist on it in your own way uh what matters the most is that your personal statement is um telling an admissions officer.
who you are how you’ve grown how you’ve evolved what your character is at your core um so keep watching these videos we’re gonna be releasing these every single friday throughout this entire year and again if you want to talk with an academic expert one-on-one at crimson education who works with students every single day as opposed to me.
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