5 College Essays That Suck


hey guys are you applying to college soon are you in the process of writing all of your common application essays then stay tuned because what we’re going to do in this episode of super tutor TV is five college application essays that suck we’re going to go over what those cliche essay topics are and talk about what kind of things you might want to think about avoiding so that you can have a super awesome stellar college application and get into school your dreams my name is Brooke I have been a tutor for over ten years though especially in test prep I also helped with the college admissions process of a lot of my students and through that process I’ve started come across some essay topics that just aren’t that awesome and that I usually end up trying to steer my students away from so that’s when this list comes from before we get too deep into things I want to encourage all of you to subscribe to our YouTube channel all you have to do is click Subscribe and then come over to super Tyler tv.com slash subscribe subscribe to our mailing list that’s where you can keep up to date on everything that’s latest and greatest at super tutor TV we also have an awesome a CT video prep series that you should check out so go to super tutor tv.com so let’s get into this five essay topics that suck number one the here is my resume essay so this is basically an essay that sometimes students write and it’s essentially what I would call a resume in paragraph form meaning that the entire contents of the essay is basically a summary of I did this activity and I was the captain and here’s what I did and then I did this activity and I did this and this is what I learned anything that could be bullet pointed out in your activity section of the common application does not belong as the substance of an entire essay don’t just tell me what you do tell me why you do it why you find it inspiring get into those deeper questions of why and how and get into your emotions these essays are the only opportunity you have to share a side of yourself that isn’t just quantitative but that’s qualitative that has to do with who you are with what excites you with ideas and so you want to take advantage of that and the best way to do that is to make sure that every essay you write either has story story story or lots of amazing ideas and analysis if you don’t have either those or both of those you will be in trouble okay the second essay topic that sucks is the what I call I got an a sa the I got an a sa is essentially an essay in which you talk about in achievement in a class and it could be the science fair it could be your chemistry class it could be your calculus class it could be you have a new really hard teacher whatever it is but the basic premise goes something like this you’re struggling academically you decide to work really hard or ask your teacher for help or get help from some of your friends and really learn the concepts and then suddenly everything works out and you succeed or you get an A this is not only boring and cliche but it also I think doesn’t lend itself to making you seem like a well-rounded person and one of the things that I like to see in college essays is a little bit more of who you are when you’re not just studying right your grades are going to speak for themselves if you’re able to get all A’s constantly well that’s going to be an amazing accomplishment and I’m going to see that from your transcript and this also could be extrapolated out to be the I struggled and then I succeeded si that can also go for sports teams my volleyball team was losing but then we worked really hard and then I did better and then we won yay anything that’s that simplistic it’s not really telling me that much about you and if the moral of the story is just hard work pays off and if you work hard then you’ll succeed that’s really boring here’s the deal all the people that you’re competing with to get into college they all work hard everybody works hard please don’t give me an essay about how hard you work I’m not going to be that impressed if you work hard your grades and your test scores we’re going to show it end of story so how do you stay away from this essay first you try to tell stories that have morals of the story that aren’t necessarily super obvious one and two don’t restrict yourself to academic subject matter when you’re writing your essays you don’t have to prove to colleges that you’re super uber academic usually that’s what your grades do so try to speak to something that like matters in your life now that doesn’t mean it can’t be academic but if it’s going to be academic I would rather read an essay that’s more about your intellectual passion or ideas that excite you or sort of the meat of what you were doing in class that really sparked something in you or gave you ideas make it idea driven not just here’s what I accomplished yay that essay sucks next essay that flex the mission trip essay the mission trip essay is essentially an essay in which you go on a mission trip or maybe you go on a volunteer service project and you think that you’re there to help those people you’re like this wonderful missionary you’re going to help these children in the inner city by singing with them but then you suddenly realize that you’re the one that learned something and how much they open your heart to sharing and caring and you didn’t realize how bad off so many people were and how much help they need and how we need to do good in the world and help others any sort of generic epiphany like that and any sort of essay that writes about those kind of activities in that cliche way I’m not that interested in reading I’m not saying that the mission trip essay is always bad I’m just saying that a lot of the time because it’s this isolated part of your life because it’s one week of your life that you took out you helped people and then you learn from that experience and then you came back home and your life returned to normal there’s nothing really terribly original about it it doesn’t really tell me more about the kind of person you are how you act under pressure how you’re any different from any other human being except for that you did the service experience and again that’s something I can just get off your resume not think don’t put the service thing on your resume put it on your resume but it just can be really lame fodder for an essay so there you go the mission trip essay I just don’t recommend it number four this is what I call the generic answer essay so the generic answer essay basically answers the question that’s being asked but it’s really generic it typically has a very little narrative or story it typically has very few specifics and when I read it it literally could be anyone remember that your essays are your one place to put your stamp of personality all over your application your essay needs specifics and those specifics have to talk about you and who you are and reveal a little bit about what makes you you this whole college application process is not just about giving the right answer it’s about sharing who you are and every individual is unique and that is something that American colleges value American colleges value that individualized ethos one of the reasons that I think students do this sometimes is that they’re embarrassed to share about their life sometimes my students like even with me because like I’m an adult and I’m like an old tutor to them they don’t want to share the intimate details that would happen in their real life because they’re embarrassed or they think they’re going to get in trouble or something like that and so they get really vague about stuff and that’s just not the solution so for example I had a student ones who was writing about like sexual assault and how one of her best friends has experienced it and the first essay that I read was super vague because she basically didn’t want to share anything because it was like teachers and stuff for reading it right and so it was like my friend went through a really difficult time and I was there for my friend and I helped talk her through it and I learned a lot from the experience but you see how it’s so vague I can’t learn anything with that you’ve got to be able to get into the details and if there’s a topic that you’re too embarrassed to write about it you’ve got to make a decision either don’t write about the topic or just go there and write about it and be specific don’t be afraid to be a little bit vulnerable get specific get down to details tell me about the moment that you found out terrible news and where you were sitting and and how your palms were sweating and give me details and give me story but don’t give me something so vague it’s hard for me to even tell that you wrote it even if I’m your good friend and then finally number five I’m going to call this the Jesus essay before you all get super offended let’s talk about what I mean by the Jesus essay essentially what I would call this is this is the Christianity conversion experience essay I’ve seen this maybe three or four times as a tutor come across my desk and while this totally works for religious institutions if you’re applying to you know Westmont or Wheaton College or Calvin College or some religious institution please please write about your conversion experience write about your religion all you want but as the saying goes when you meet a new person there’s usually two topics that you want to avoid in general one of those is politics and the other is related politics I’m not going to say you have to absolutely avoid on your college application I do find that some students can talk about that in a more neutral way and politics is such a broad idea you don’t want to be divisive in your politics and you don’t want to be one-sided and you want to understand that whoever is reading your essay may have different political leanings than you and you want to write in such a way so that you don’t offend that person and I’m also not saying that you can never write about religion but generally that essay it’s religious it’s from the culturally dominant religion in the United States so it’s a little less marginalized and the fact that it’s more dominant and less marginalized it’s just not as palatable as a general college admissions essay I’m not saying you can’t mention that kind of stuff I’m just saying your personal conversion experience is probably not the best essay for say a common application essay or a general giant essay for a cause you’re trying to get into now how do you write about religion if you do want to write about religion let’s talk about that one you can write about religion if you’re interested in religious studies and you can always read about religion from a academic point of view so if you’re approaching religion from an academic point of view if you’re approaching it from a Scholastic point of view go for it write about it write about why that interests you as an academic topic I’m totally cool with that too you can also read about lesser-known religions because sometimes what that is is it’s sort of a window into a world that a lot of us don’t know or understand and it makes you unique for instance I once had a girl who is working with and she talked about her experience at her Sikh temple on the weekends and that was her University of California essay another been really lovely essay it had this awesome vibe and you could see how this was a place that was a total retreat for her it was a place that she thought of this home and she was able to describe this experience in a way that I really connected with but it also was sort of this marginalized religion that a lot of people don’t know very much about so she also led us into her world in a way that I thought was powerful and unique and then finally if you are going to write about religion you just have to make sure that you’re approaching it from a perspective that people don’t find offensive if you’re in this camp and you’re like no I’m going to write about religion I don’t care what you say very well but my best recommendation is at least give your essay to some other people who maybe aren’t a part of your religion and see how it sits with them are they reading it and are they uncomfortable are they reading it and do they think like why are you preaching to me and if so you might want to think about whether that’s putting your best foot forward at least if you’re not applying to specifically religious colleges I hope you guys like this video if so please give it a thumbs up subscribe to our channel if you haven’t already we’re going to release a few more videos this summer about the college application process if stay tuned if you want to see those and go to our website and check out our a CT prep series I will see all of you guys next time on super tutor TV ciao ciao for now

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