Writing a good university application is no ordinary feat. It takes time, commitment and a planned approach. However, if you’ve managed to wait until the last minute, staying away from these common mistakes should help you avoid a rejection.
Overuse of I
You may be a high achiever and a celebrated student in the high school but nothing rankles an application reviewer more than the lack of humility in an applicant. Use I minimally in your essays. Give credit to teachers, mentors and others who have helped you along the way. A balanced, humble profile ticks all the boxes and is more likely to get a call than a student who thinks there is none like him.
Leave out useless details
Don’t provide unnecessary details about an event that took place long ago in terms of chronology. These facts are true but useless (TBU). Similarly, avoid providing too much information (TMI) about you and your achievements that doesn’t enhance the application. It is important to think from the reviewer’s perspective and be prudent about the value addition of any extra materials you submit.
Repurposing a college application essay
Writing applications for multiple universities is a stressful process, especially when you have to answer a similar battery of questions. Except the essentials, the essay is generally considered the soul of any application. In many cases, it is the unique, customised piece of information in your application. Do not refurbish and recycle your essays. This can be catastrophic, leading to low marks on the demonstrated interest test if it is obvious to the reviewer that you have repurposed an essay from another application.
Do not refurbish and recycle your essays. This can be catastrophic, leading to low marks on the demonstrated interest test if it is obvious to the reviewer that you have repurposed an essay from another application.
Redundant phrases and poor grammar
Your application and essay are not an exercise in the English language. Avoid complex verbiage in essays when simpler words will do just fine. Large words used improperly or to create an effect won’t impress anyone and could be enough to turn the reviewer off. The key is to write as you think or speak. Also, avoid tarnishing your application by not proofreading your work or using poor grammar and punctuation.
Using ambiguous statements
A sure shot way to get rejected is to submit an application with a wannabe statement of purpose or one with lack of clarity. For the question on why you wish to study in this university, avoid waxing eloquently about the school, the brand, legacy, how it has been your dream, and how you’ll transform the world. Application reviewers read tons of such stuff. What they essentially look for in an application is the reflection of a candidate who is true to himself and has the right moulding to be a future brand ambassador of the college. Also, don’t ever fake stuff you can’t back up with. Integrity is paramount.
— The writer is a Dubai-based adjunct lecturer, career advisor, business and leadership coach, graphologist and founder of Optimus Management Consultants