From College Essay Guy: Three More Mistakes Even Excellent Students Make on Their College Essays

This is the second part of last week’s post. College Essay Guy continues with Three More Mistakes (for a total of six) Even Excellent Students Make on Their College Essay. Let’s read what he has to say.

Here are some more mistakes to avoid on your college essays next fall:


Work on your essay like this: first content, then structure, finally details.

For content, ask yourself: Am I telling my deepest story?

For structure, ask: Could the order of my story events be more dynamic?

Both of these take some time to figure out. Understand exactly what your story is and how you’re telling it instead of worrying about whether to use the word “sated” or “satisfied” in the final paragraph.


Your essay matters. In fact, it can make the difference. Will it get you into Harvard if you have C’s and D’s? No. But it can make the difference between you and someone with comparable grades, test scores and extracurricular activities. If it didn’t matter, colleges wouldn’t make you write so many of them.

(If you’re wondering how these essays are evaluated, two college admissions officers—from USC and SMU—offered their feedback here.)


Got a close relationship with your counselor or English teacher? Great. Use this person.

An older sister you trust? Ask her.

In fact, you can even ask your parents. As I wrote on my site, they can be a great source of help in brainstorming ideas for your essay and in offering honest feedback after you’ve written it.

No idea where to start and need help?

Click here for a free step by step process.

And if you’ve got more questions, feel free to contact me.

Yo, Writing: What’s up with using numerals and spelling out numbers?

Here is the simplified explanation of the rule for spelling out numbers or using numerals:


If you want to delve into the more subtle rules, here they are:

Don’t begin a sentence with a numeral, even if it’s 10 or higher.

  • WRONG: 12 students fell asleep in class today.
  • RIGHT: Twelve students fell asleep in class today.

Be consistent within the same sentence, even if one of the numbers is smaller than ten.

  • WRONG: They ate six slices of pizza in 22 minutes.
  • RIGHT: They ate 6 slices of pizza in 22 minutes.
  • RIGHT: Finn ate two slices of pizza in twenty-two minutes.

If you want even more rules, click here to read’s explanation.

(Finn eating pizza GIF source: Slice)

(Source: theyuniversity, via theyuniversity)

Anonymous asked:
Just a follow up question to the mile/miles one: what about a finite quantity less than one? Say, 0.8, for example? Saying "zero point eight miles" just sounds correct, but is it?

Good question.

For numbers less than zero that are expressed as decimals, we would treat them thus:

  • According to the freeway sign, we have 0.25 miles to go until the exit.
  • I ran 0.6 miles yesterday.

However, just as in this previous post, if we were to use them as compound adjectives, we would get the following:

  • Our car had barely enough gas to reach the 0.25-mile exit.
  • I finished the 0.6-mile run in record time.

(Sonic GIF source: Sonic Running)

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