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Why Your College Essay Sucks

You wrote your first college essay. You looked at it and threw it away. So you write another and it’s decent but not quite there yet. Three drafts later you’re exhausted, whether it took you three hours or three weeks. Nothing sounds good, you’re not sure you actually answered the question, and if you have to hear one more time that you need to connect to the topic personally you are going to scream.

Why can’t you get it right? Why are the questions so vague and yet so specific? Why does your college essay suck?

The simple answer is that it probably doesn’t, you’re just too close to the essay and have read it too many times to see that. Of course, there are things you shouldn’t do on an essay like curse or fail to answer the question, but most of the time you’re doing everything to the best of your ability.

The more complicated answer comes in parts.

First, you think your college essay sucks because you fear the unknown. Once you turn the essay in that unknown comes crashing down on you as you wait for schools to read it and then as you wait to get your acceptance letters. It’s natural to fear the unknown. In fact, it’s quite human. Humans fear death, oblivion, empty houses all because they are unknown. College is unknown even if you’re ready, even if you have older siblings. It’s going to be different for you.

And, secondly, let’s be honest. When have you have let four years of your life rest on a single essay? Absolutely never. An essay is something you’ve turned in for a small portion of your grade knowing that about a dozen other assignments will cover it up.

Your college essay sucks because the public school system has failed to teach us to talk about ourselves, let alone write about ourselves creatively. We’ve written formulaic essays since third grade and directly answered the question and only the question since kindergarten.

CCUSD is lucky to have the Third Grade Recorder Program, Young Storytellers, and AVPA, among other creative programs. Even still, the classroom curriculum lacks creative writing, and your college essays suffer because all of a sudden you are expected to use the creative word to better your future, usually for the first time ever, if not then in a long while.

So it’s not your fault that you think your college essay sucks, for the most part. Make sure your grammar is impeccable and don’t rely on the thesaurus to fill your essay with “sophisticated” vocabulary, use what you know. This essay is the opportunity to take your education into your own hands. Talk to your teachers, friends, and family about what makes you unique and let them read your essay. Brainstorm and edit and then be confident because there isn’t another essay out there that was written by you.

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