43 Phrases You Should Avoid in a College Admission Essay

43 Phrases You Should Avoid in a College Admission Essay

When most students are writing their college admission essay, they aren’t thinking about the Essay Readers at colleges whose entire job is to sort students’ essays into NO, MAYBE, and YES piles.

As hard as you’ve worked on your essay, you may get exactly two minutes of a Reader’s time if he or she feels your writing is boring or unoriginal.

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On the other hand, the few essays that show clear, original thinking get promptly placed into the YES pile.

The admission essay is one truly personal section of the college application; if your essay stands out, your chances of getting into your top choice school goes up dramatically.

Therefore, take careful note of these 43 phrases.

Using them might spell NO for your admission chances.


Phrases to Avoid in College Application Essay

  1. From that moment on, I always knew
  2. Marching to the beat of my own drum
  3. I felt at home
  4. Throughout history
  5. I’ve always known I wanted to be a doctor
  6. “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated” -Confucius
  7. When I traveled to Africa to help kids with autism
  8. My grandmother’s death taught me to not take life for granted
  9. Our nation has experienced monumental changes in society
  10. I learned so much about myself
  11. I realized I had been in this situation before
  12. Much of life is unexpected
  13. I don’t sweat the small stuff
  14. I learned to adapt
  15. My true reward
  16. I have loved/found/learned; I also love/found/learned
  17. I learned first-hand the importance of
  18. I hope to one day impact
  19. Since my discovery
  20. For billions of years, Earth has
  21. My passion for
  22. My thirst for knowledge
  23. This is where I grew the qualities of being a strong leader
  24. I may have traveled a world away, but by the time I left, I was no longer an outsider.
  25. Drive me to go the extra mile
  26. A catalyst for change
  27. There comes a time in our lives when we find ourselves at a crossroads
  28. One of the most remarkable realizations
  29. From the time
  30. Of my life
  31. An experience central to my creative and intellectual point of view
  32. Made a difference
  33. I received an excellent grade
  34. Winning that game was indicative of my larger ability to be a leader
  35. For if I’ve learned anything in this brief life of mine
  36. Rare curiosity
  37. Big appetite for learning
  38. Taste for Intellectual experimentation
  39. Immensely difficult
  40. I began to wonder
  41. A land of introspection
  42. A magical experience
  43. I am not afraid to push limits

Caroline Koppelman

Caroline Koppelman is a college admissions expert. Her college admissions consulting firm, The Kopelman Group, has helped students get into the finest schools in the country, including Harvard and Upenn. If you need help brainstorming topics, editing essays, coming up with your college list, or anything relating to the college process.