October 21, 2021

Admissions Essays: What NOT To Do (Part 2)

Last week, we shared Paul Bodine’s first five tips on what not to do on your admissions essays. As promised, here are the final five tips:

6. Write what you think admissions officers want to hear. Aside from the fact that this approach is insincere and won’t help you stand out (because so many others do it), it assumes that admissions officers know what they want to hear. In reality, admissions officers live to be pleasantly surprised by a story or profile that answers their question and that they couldn’t have anticipated because they’ve never encountered it before. Make their day.

7. Fail to catch grammatical and spelling errors. Don’t rely on your own eagle eye or computer’s spell-checker alone. Show your essays to other people, ideally someone with training in the rules and conventions of good writing and the English language. Read Strunk and White’s deeply helpful guide to incisive writing, The Elements of Style.

8. Leave out the passion. Choosing boring material or writing about interesting material in a boring way sends the wrong signal to admissions officers, who are looking high and low for engaged, enthusiastic people with multiple interests and a zest for life. All your essays are ultimately about you, a subject schools naturally expect you to be somewhat excited about.

9. Fail to be strategic about your essays. This means knowing how to strike a balance between standing out from other applicants and having the minimal skills and values to be accepted by future classmates. It also includes the error of forgetting to view each school’s essay set in its totality to ensure that you’ve included all your key stories and that your essays are a multidimensional mix of personal, professional, and community material.

10. Omit the lessons learned or takeaways. A B-school admissions essay (regardless of topic) that lacks a closing lessons-learned section should be a contradiction in terms. Whether the school asks for takeaways or not, give the committee reflection, thoughtfulness, and your analysis of the significance of the essay’s subject matter in a single paragraph.

For more help with your essays and the application process, contact the Admitify team!