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Why Not to Rely on High School English Teachers for College Admission Essays

Writing a high school essay is much different than writing a college admissions essay. In fact, for most high school students writing a college admission essay may require some fairly serious “un-training” away from what has been drilled into their heads for three or four years. Because of this, it is best not to rely on the advice of high school English teachers when it comes to college essays.


Many students (and their parents) trust English high school teachers when they tell them their college essays are ready for college applications. What does the average high school English teacher know about college admissions? Not very much.


Many high school English teachers advise their students to build their college essays around a thesis statement. In reality, that’s the last thing that should be done when writing a college admissions essay (also known as a “personal statement”).


College essays need to be entertaining. Far, far too many college essays are in fact boring. College admissions officers get genuinely excited when they get to read an essay that is entertaining and memorable. College essays do not even have to be “error free”, but they do have to be memorable and make an impact on their readers. College admission essays that take chances are better than college admission essays that “play it safe”.


College admission essays must be powerful statements of who a student is and what he or she is all about. They have to give a sense of what makes this student interesting because colleges look for students that will add to classroom discussions, making them more intriguing and thought provoking.


Many high school English teachers also often tell students use words like “however” and “nevertheless” throughout their essays. This advice may get students As on their high school essays, but they will not help students get into college. This advice should be rejected.


Writing in a colloquial manner, however, should be done on college essays. This type of writing is very effective. High school English teachers also teach students never to start sentences with words like “and” or “but” and yet doing this can be very powerful. It should be done on college admission essays.


Many high school English teachers are great at teaching literature and critical analysis. And many are bad at editing college admission essays. They should not be used for advice when writing college admission essays.