Abbreviations in colleges essays?

<p>Should or should they not be used? The essay is supposed to display your character, your VOICE. And most of us talk in abbreviations.</p>

<p>It feels awkward for me to write "I did not have the money" as opposed to "I didn't have the money". Or "That is how I have lived my life" instead of "That's how I've lived my life".</p>

<p>Just to be on the safe side, I don't use contractions and spell out did not instead of using didn't.</p>

<p>I used contractions since, like you said, I wanted to display my own voice. Helped my essay sound more natural as well.</p>