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College Essay Style Tips

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Tip #1: Wordiness and Repetition in College Admissions Essays
Wordiness and Repetition in College Admissions Essays

Wordiness and Repetition in College Admissions Essays

Image by Allen Grove
In college admissions essays, wordiness is by far the most common stylistic error. In most cases, students could cut one-third of an essay, lose no meaningful content, and make the piece much more engaging and effective.

Wordiness comes in many forms with many different names -- deadwood, repetition, redundancy, BS, filler, fluff -- but whatever the type, those extraneous words have no place in a winning college admissions essay.

In the brief sample above, all the words in yellow can be pared back or cut entirely. The near repetition of the phrase "the first times I set foot on the stage" entirely saps the passage of energy and forward momentum. The author is merely spinning his wheels.

Consider how much tighter and more engaging the passage is without all the unnecessary language: "Theater did not come naturally to me, and I felt remarkably self-conscious and nervous the first few times I set foot on stage in the eighth grade. My best friend had talked me into auditioning for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet."

Continue to Tip #2...

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