College Essay Mistakes You Should Avoid This Semester

college essay mistakes

Writing an essay for college is tough, especially for international students who don’t speak English as their first language. But don’t worry! With the right help, you can avoid college essay mistakes and write an impressive essay that showcases your special qualities. 

Here, we’ll discuss the usual errors made in unique college essays and give examples and tips on college essays

Getting help with writing college essays can be incredibly beneficial, as it provides valuable support and guidance in creating compelling and impactful narratives that impress admissions committees. Avoiding college application mistakes is crucial for ensuring a smooth and successful admissions process.

Lack of Clarity and Focus

One of the common essay mistakes is when there is a lack of clarity and focus. This mistake is not okay because it can hinder the reader’s understanding of your main ideas and purpose. When your essay lacks clarity, it becomes difficult for the reader to grasp the essence of your message and the points you are trying to convey. Being vague or using overly complex language can further exacerbate this problem, leading to confusion and a disconnect between you and the reader. 

You can make your essay more engaging and compelling by being specific and avoiding vagueness. For example, instead of simply stating, “Reflecting on his college mistakes, Mike crafted an insightful essay,” which leaves the reader wondering what that essay is, you can provide specific details that paint a vivid picture. By adding, “by exploring the valuable lessons learned from his academic missteps, revealing the growth and resilience that emerged from his experiences,” you give the reader a clear understanding of an obstacle the hero faced. The mistakes essay is a powerful medium for introspection and growth, offering a platform to reflect. 

A Weak Thesis Statement

Having a weak thesis statement is not okay when writing a college essay because it undermines the purpose and effectiveness of your essay. 

A thesis statement is a critical component of your essay that sets the direction and establishes the main argument or central theme. 

A weak thesis statement fails to provide a clear focus, making it difficult for the reader to understand the purpose and intent of your essay. For example, stating “Education is important” is a weak thesis statement because it is overly broad and lacks specificity. It fails to provide any insight into your personal experiences or the unique perspective you bring to the topic.

On the contrary, a strong thesis statement like “In her ‘Learning from Mistakes’ essay, Anna explores the transformative power of embracing failure as a stepping stone to personal growth and success” sets the stage for developing the essay. 

One more example of a thesis statement, but for an essay on climate change, could be: “Human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, are the primary drivers of climate change, and urgent global action is necessary to mitigate its devastating consequences and secure a sustainable future for our planet.” 

Also, an example of a thesis statement for an essay on the impact of social media on society might be formulated as: “Social media has revolutionized communication and transformed the way individuals interact, but its pervasive influence also raises concerns about privacy, mental health, and the erosion of face-to-face social connections, highlighting the need for responsible usage and thoughtful regulation.

A strong thesis statement guides your writing process and helps the reader understand the purpose and significance of your essay. It acts as a roadmap, allowing you to structure your arguments and evidence logically and coherently.

Try our Thesis Statement Generator that will guide you step-by-step towards creating a solid thesis statement for your college paper. 

Lack of Supporting Evidence

Not providing supporting evidence in your college level essay is a mistake because it weakens your arguments and makes them less credible. 

Your essay may seem unsupported and shallow when you make claims without supporting them with relevant evidence or examples. 

Sophia Bither, B.A. in Social Science, Coordinator of Research Department at

By including supporting evidence, you can show your experiences and accomplishments. Making claims without evidence can make it hard for the reader to connect with your essay and harder for them to understand the importance of what you’re saying.

For example, saying, “Anna is a natural leader,” without specific instances or examples, is a weak statement. But suppose you provide evidence like the fact that she is leading a team project, organizing a community event, or being chosen as the captain of a sports team. In that case, you prove her leadership skills and make your claim more convincing. Not providing supporting evidence in your college-level essay is a mistake because it weakens your arguments and makes them less credible, leaving your essay unsupported and lacking depth.

Poor Organization and Structure

A disorganized and poorly structured essay is not good because it confuses the reader and makes it hard to understand your ideas. Admissions officers want personal essays for college that are easy to read, flow smoothly, and have a clear structure that supports the overall purpose of the text.

Organizing and structuring your essay properly is important for achieving a logical flow. Using paragraphs and transitions effectively acts as a guide for the reader, helping them navigate through your ideas and arguments. Each paragraph should clearly focus and connect to your thesis statement, ensuring that your essay stays coherent and makes sense.

For example, starting each paragraph with a topic sentence related to your thesis statement helps set a clear focus for that part of your essay. It lets the reader know the main idea of each paragraph, making it easier to move smoothly from one point to another. A well-organized and structured essay makes it easier for the reader to understand. It shows your ability to think critically and present unique college essay ideas logically. It demonstrates that you have carefully planned and arranged your essay, allowing the reader to engage with your ideas more effectively.

Here is an example of how you can incorporate topic sentences into each paragraph to provide a clear focus and organization in your essay:

Thesis statement: Social media has profoundly impacted modern communication, influencing interpersonal relationships and shaping public discourse.

Paragraph 1: Topic sentence: One way social media has transformed communication is by redefining the concept of friendship.

Paragraph 2: Topic sentence: Besides affecting interpersonal connections, social media has also revolutionized public discourse.

Conclusion: The advent of social media has deeply transformed modern communication, exerting a significant influence on interpersonal relationships and the shaping of public discourse.

Neglecting Proofreading and Editing

Neglecting to proofread and edit your essay is not okay because it can negatively impact the overall impression of your work. Submitting an essay with spelling and writing errors suggests a lack of attention to detail. It can diminish the credibility of your writing. While essay correction website like Grammarly can be helpful, they should not be solely relied upon. These tools may overlook context-specific errors or improper word usage, which can impact the accuracy and fluency of your writing. It is essential to manually proofread and edit to catch any writing mistakes that automated tools might miss.

By taking the time to review your essay carefully and deleting all unnecessary words and phrases, you demonstrate your commitment to producing high-quality work. It shows that you value your writing and its impression on the reader. Proofreading and editing allow you to correct an essay and ensure that it meets the expected clarity, coherence, and correctness standards. Avoiding mistakes in writing essays is essential for producing clear and coherent pieces of writing that effectively convey the intended message.

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Lack of Originality

Submitting an unoriginal essay is not good because it won’t get the attention of professors. They read many essays and want to see unique perspectives. If your essay is unoriginal, it will blend in with others and won’t be memorable. To stand out, avoid clichés and generic topics that have been done before.

Instead, create a unique essay focusing on your stories, passions, and perspectives. For example, choose a lesser-known hobby or a transformative cultural experience that shaped your life instead of writing about a common topic like overcoming a sports injury.

By exploring a less popular pastime like underwater basket weaving or astrophotography, you bring a fresh perspective to your essay. It shows that you think differently and have unique interests.

Similarly, sharing a transformative cultural experience allows you to show your personal growth and understanding of the world. For example, you can write about a volunteer trip to a remote village in a foreign country, where you had to adapt to a new way of life and gain a deeper appreciation for different cultures. Creating original essays helps you leave a lasting impression and showcases your creative thinking. Avoiding common topics and approaching your essay with a fresh perspective demonstrates your willingness to take risks and think deeply about your experiences. This makes your essay stand out and strongly impacts the reader.

Failure to Answer the Prompt

Failure to answer the essay prompt is not okay because it shows a lack of attention to instructions and may make your essay irrelevant to the topic. 

Professors want to see that you can follow directions and effectively address the question or prompt given. It’s important to carefully read and understand the prompt before writing college essay. I’d say it guarantees 50% of success.

Kate Roth, the Senior Supervisor from the Essay Writing Department

For example, if the prompt asks you to discuss a significant challenge you’ve faced, make sure your essay focuses on that specific challenge and how it has impacted you. Avoid going off-topic or discussing unrelated experiences. Stay focused and provide specific examples and arguments directly related to the prompt.

By addressing the prompt, you prove your ability to think critically and effectively engage with the given topic. Your essay should showcase your understanding of the prompt’s requirements. Also, it shows your ability to present a thoughtful response.

If you don’t answer the prompt, it might seem like you didn’t understand the task or pay enough attention, making your essay look bad. 

Writing a strong high school admission essay is also important, as it allows students to highlight their unique qualities and experiences to impress the admissions committee or professors.

An Inconsistent Tone and Style

Using an inconsistent tone and style in your essay is not good because it can confuse the reader and make your writing seem unprofessional. Maintaining a consistent tone and style throughout your essay is important for ensuring coherence and clarity. Fluctuating between formal and informal language or using inappropriate jokes can undermine the overall effectiveness of your writing.

For example, suppose you start your essay with a formal and academic tone but suddenly switch to a casual and conversational style. In that case, it can disrupt the flow and coherence of your ideas. Also, using inappropriate humour or slang in an academic essay can diminish the credibility of your arguments. Consider this example: “They need to save the house because, duh, it’s the only one they’ve got! LOL.” This casual and humorous tone may be suitable for informal conversations, but it is inappropriate for an academic essay. It diminishes the seriousness of the topic and may lead the reader to question the validity of your arguments.

Choosing a tone that reflects your personality and the purpose of your essay is essential, since these approaches make essay sound smarter. A more conversational and relatable tone may be appropriate if you’re writing a personal narrative. However, a more formal and objective tone would be expected for an analytical or research-based essay.

Keeping a consistent tone and style in your essay is important. It shows that you can meet the expectations of college-level academic writing. Also, it demonstrates your ability to adapt your language and approach to suit the needs of your audience. A well-crafted and correct essay demonstrates the writer’s ability to effectively convey ideas, making it a crucial component of successful communication. So, writing a college essay requires careful thought, creativity, and a genuine reflection of one’s experiences and aspirations, making it a crucial step in the college application process.

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Lauren Bradshaw
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Lauren started writing in 2003. Since then, she tried her hand in SEO and website copywriting, composing for blogs, and working as an academic writer. Her main interests lie in content marketing, developing communication skills, and blogging.