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common app & supplemental essays

twosidestwosides Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
edited November 2013 in Princeton University
Many people who have taken a look at my essays have told me that my essay includes TOO MUCH reflection and TOO LITTLE detail/story-telling. However, I don't know if I should change anything because of the word count. Although the essay doesn't contain vivid imagery, I believe that it is an accurate reflection of who I am. What should I do??
This applies to my UC essays as well.
Post edited by twosides on

Replies to: common app & supplemental essays

  • CannedPineappleCannedPineapple Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    I can totally understand where you are coming from - finding the right balance of content, reflection, critical analysis, etc. is a difficult part of college essay writing.

    My advice would be to make sure that your response has answered the essay prompt. This may seem like an obvious question, but I've read a lot of essays whose focus misses the essence of the prompt, even though the details may be relevant. You should guide the reader as he or she navigates through your writing. The reader should be able to understand WHY you are writing each point and how these ideas relate to the prompt. If a part of your essay feels a little iffy, then it may be because it is only tangentially related, or not enough contextualization was outlined. In this case, you should make a list of key details that you either want to convey or are necessary to the structure of your essay. If all of these points are clearly conveyed, then you should not worry about having too little detail.

    In terms of story-telling, I find that this style of writing is often too verbose for college essays, especially since adcoms don't spend a lot of time on each essay. This is not to say that this form of writing is bad - it's just hard to pull off while still orienting the reader and not eating up too many words that may be better spent on content. If you are trying to convey a visceral idea, then some applications of story-telling may be warranted.

    In terms of reflection, as long as you are not redundant (be critical here!) and are not detracting from the focus of your essay, then you may just have a lot to say - and that's fine. You even say that you feel your essay is an accurate reflection of who you are. Ultimately, that IS the goal here, and that's what adcoms want to get from reading your essay.
  • Kali22Kali22 Registered User Posts: 575 Member
    In general, if your story telling/detail is poignant enough, it can convey who you truly are, and little reflection (which is often "telling") is necessary.

    I'd recommend reading a lot of different college essay books. They really helped me get a sense of how to approach the personal statement.
This discussion has been closed.