College Essays 101
Admissions experts offer five tips on writing college application essays
By ELLEN GAMERMAN
November 29, 2007 9:47 p.m.
1. Don't name the college in your essay. Brown's dean of admission, Jim Miller, says every year his office gets about a dozen essays in which the student has forgotten to swap out the name of the school for Brown. "We understand it happens, but still, it's not putting your best foot forward when you say, 'And that's why Stanford has always been my first choice.'"
2. Don't rely on spell-check. Jennifer Ruddy Simpson, director of college advising at Kent Place School in Summit, N.J., used to work in the college-admissions office at Columbia University. She remembers one applicant getting a very important word wrong. "A student actually misspelled Columbia," she says. In the essay, the school was spelled like the country: Colombia. The student didn't get in.
3. Beware of gimmicks. When Toby Brewster worked in the admissions office at Harvard, he recalls a student submitting an essay written backwards, with a mirror enclosed so the admissions staff could read it. Mr. Brewster, now director of college counseling at St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H., recommends avoiding such tricks, as well as sob stories, tales of boyfriend and girlfriend woes, and clich