Top 5 College Essay Mistakes You MUST Avoid

The Common Application 2021-2022 will be ready on August 1. Year after year, when parents call us because their children were rejected from their top-choice schools, the first thing I ask is to see their Common Application main essays. I always find egregious mistakes!

Here are 5 mistakes you must AVOID!

  • Mistake #1:  Not answering the question.  The admissions committee uses certain essay prompts for a specific reason:  They want you to answer it! 
  • Mistake #2:  Trying to impress the essay readers.  Do not try to impress admissions officers or the admissions committee.  They will be able to sense a pretentious, patronizing or even condescending voice beneath descriptions of seemingly philanthropic contributions, grand, earth-shaking events and ontological musings. 
  • Mistake #3:  Making an essay into a resume.  Many times applicants want to impress readers so much that they completely ignore the essay prompt and make the essay into a list of their accomplishments.  Admissions officers and readers dislike redundancy!
  • Mistake #4: Obtaining “ideas” from websites .  Do not copy from other people or download essays!  Many students assume that if they copy directly from other people’s work and sources that no one will find out.  This assumption is definitely wrong!  Don’t you think admissions officers also visit theses websites.
  • Mistake #5:  Picking an inappropriate topic.  In an attempt to be clever, many applicants resort to writing an essay that they believe would be witty, overly serious, or flattering. Admissions officers are unimpressed!

Your college essay is the only part of the college application process over which you have complete control.  Your essay or essays (short answers included) should capture admissions committees’ imagination and make them want you on their campuses.  Missing the opportunity to make this piece of your student profile outstanding is a HUGE mistake and will certainly result in a rejection by top schools.

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After years of hard work, you don’t want to make mistakes that can cause you to be rejected!
Successful college acceptance results is not just about essay editing revisions. It involves continuous expert advice. We take a comprehensive approach involving student profile development, interview preparation, letter of recommendation assessments and our long standing networks and relationships in the college admissions industry!
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Dr. Paul Lowe, Admissions Expert

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected and student who wish to transfer to another college:  College Transfer Admissions Advisors.  For colleges and universities that recommend or require videos: College Admissions Video Productions.

Fauci Effect on BS/MD Applications

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As college and university enrollment overall has dropped this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic, research and reports have demonstrated that there is a record number of applicants to medical schools.

The number of applicants to medical schools has increased by 18% this year over last year, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC); and this is driven by the example of medical workers and public health figures such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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Increase in BS/MD Applications translates to HYPERCOMPETITION
It’s going to HARDER to get in!

Our research and knowledge of the BS/MD programs has seen an increase in interest in BS/MD programs. More parents are encouraging their children to become doctors because of the uncertainty in the future of non-healthcare careers and the fact that there is a shortage of U.S. doctors. AAMC reports that United States will be short 54,000 to 139,000 physicians  by 2033, the AAMC estimates and that more than two out of every five doctors now practicing will reach retirement age over the next 10 years.

In our practice, we are seeing more parents calling us seeking BS/MD admissions help. In fact, we are seeing a trend in high school students switching to BS/MD program admissions from traditional college admissions who are currently juniors. More international high school students and H-4 visas students are also requesting BS/MD assistance.

What does this mean for BS/MD programs? More high school students will be applying and there will be even more HYPERCOMPETITION!


Our BS/MD Admissions practice is specialized: Dr. Lowe and his team only work with parents who understand that the BS/MD admissions process is competitive, who desire help from an admissions expert and who see the value and investment in paying for expert advice through a detailed and ongoing comprehensive admissions advisory service for their child’s dream of becoming a doctor.  He also specializes in helping international students in the BS/MD process. BS/MD Admissions Advisors – 2020 Acceptances.  Parents who chose to use our services want to call their son or daughter – “Doctor” when they are seniors in high school.

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After all that hard work, don’t you want want your child to be a BS/MD student?

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group network.  He and his team of admissions advisors, through the admissions affiliate, BS/MD Admissions Advisors, help high school students get accepted to BS/MD programs.

Dr. Paul Lowe at The Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Dr. Paul Lowe, Admissions Expert

College Admissions: What Do Admissions Officers Look For?

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Parents always ask me: What do admissions officers look for?

We tend to think that college admissions officer/committees focus primarily on the tangible factors that are measurable and quantifiable: grades, standardized test scores, (SAT and ACT) and subject tests (AP and IB) and extracurricular activities: “saving the world”, tutoring and volunteering to help the underprivileged.

The reality is that their emotions, feelings (and biases) and value judgement play a significant role in admissions decision.

Based on my professional experience and continually visiting colleges, and discussions with directors of admissions, there are other factors (and their interrelationships) which we have identified and understand that are just as important to help our clients gain admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges and universities and direct BS/MD programs:

  • College application presentation
  • Personal Statement
  • Supplemental essays
  • Collective interrelationship of all essays
  • WOW Factor
  • Attitude
  • Likability
  • Etiquette
  • Character
  • Grit/Challenge
  • Confidence
  • Charisma
  • Sense of self
  • Sense of others
  • Sense of surroundings
  • Interactions
  • Engagement
  • Unsaid
  • Conversational Intelligence
  • Cadence
  • Transparency
  • Civic Engagement
  • Cultural Intelligence
  • Cultural Agility
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Originality
  • Uniqueness
  • Diversity/Inclusion
  • Family background
  • Comparative Student Profile Analysis

Year after year, I hear the horror stories from parents whose kids got in nowhere because they thought the college admissions race was just about grades, SAT scores, their perceived  ‘unique’ applications, generic essays and perfect connections.” 

Ivy League and highly selective colleges use a holistic approach and review process and a committee review approach process when evaluating applicants for admission.  That means admission to these colleges is not based on a simple formula of grades and test scores and what may parents may believe.  Instead, admissions officers/committees (with diverse backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities and perceptions) consider a variety of factors: the student’s academic record, extracurricular interests, intellectual achievements and personal background  and what I call “PERSONAL VIBE” to decide who will be rejected or accepted.

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“Being different and understanding differences allow me to help our clients stand out and be accepted!” – Dr. Paul Lowe

“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe

“Parents hire us because they chose to pay an admissions expert who will help them avoid making mistakes.” – Dr. Paul Lowe

We provide our clients access to our specialized knowledge! – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college:  College Transfer Admissions Advisors.

College Application Essay HELP with Dr Paul Lowe

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It’s crunch time for BS/MD as well as Ivy League applications.  As we help students brainstorm ideas, revise and edit the MOST IMPORTANT APPLICATIONS/ESSAYS of their lives, we are discovering consistent points in their essays that will cause instant rejections.  Dr. Paul Lowe would like to share these points.

  • Essays were verbose.
  • Essays were not personal.
  • Essays were boring.
  • Essay did not answer the question.
  • Essays were superficial.
  • Essays were pretentious.
  • Essays contained grammatical errors and grammatical inaccuracies
  • Essays were disconnected from the application.
  • Essays sounded similar to online essay samples.
  • Essays sounded similar to samples in books.
  • Essay did not have the student’s voice.
  • Essays were simply cut and paste from another answer.
  • Essay was not well written.
  • Essays were formulaic.
  • Essays lacked harmony.

Noticed that we used the past tense!

The consensus that we have heard among most admissions officers at Ivy League as well as BS/MD programs is that an essay can both help and hurt you and essays are an opportunity to expand the admissions officer’s sense of who you are.

Here are some comments that Dr. Lowe has heard from admissions officers regarding application essays:

  • “I don’t like to see an essay that you can almost see was written by parents.”
  • “If an essay is notable for its weakness, then both readers are likely to comment on its shortcomings and factor that into their recommendations to the committee.”
  • “A badly written essay can certainly tip the scale the wrong way even when the parts of a student’s application is otherwise strong.”
  • “We turn down many students with great grades and test scores who have poor essays.”
  • “If I read an essay that has the same theme that I have read from a website or a book, the student is instantly rejected.”

After years of hard work and preparation, why make mistakes on application essays that could cause INSTANT REJECTION!

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Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty? – Dr. Paul Lowe

We provide our clients access to our specialized knowledge! – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college:  College Transfer Admissions Advisors.

Your BS/MD Admissions Game Plan: College Application Essays

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“Your BS/MD Admissions Game Plan” is a blog series created by Dr. Paul Lowe that discusses BS/MD Admissions.  With such a competitive environment and the immeasurable value and benefits of BS/MD programs, the need for an admissions game plan is ESSENTIAL.

At BS/ MD Admissions, we discern that many students and parents are clueless about what to do, when to do it, where to do it, who to contact, and why do it.  They fail to discover what they are doing that’s wrong, or they discover what they’ve been doing is wrong when it’s too late!


COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAYS

When we review and perform an in-depth student profile analysis of clients’ college application-essay drafts that they submit to us, we ALWAYS find mistakes that can result in rejections!  This is unfortunate because essays can tip the scales when colleges and BS/MD programs are trying to decide between two otherwise equally qualified applicants.  We find that students (even with high GPAs, great extracurricular activities and high SAT/ACT scores and excellent “manufactured” personas) don’t put much thought into their essays.  Or when they do, they overlook key points in their essays.  These are big mistakes because essays are crucial.

Applications for competitive colleges and BS/MD Programs ask the applicant to write a reasonably significant and compelling essay (in the 500-750 words range) about what is seemingly a broad topic.  What admissions officers (there are usually two or more readers) are looking for in the essay is an insight into how well the applicant thinks, how well they can articulate a point or view, how the applicant is unique, the applicant’s emotional and cultural intelligence, what matters to the applicant, and most importantly the applicant’s character, personality and honesty.

Essays should be successfully written so that they leave a lasting positive impression on the admissions committee. When reading essays, admissions officers strive to gain a reasonably complete picture of student – strengths, achievements and aspirations as well as challenges they face and how they overcome them.  At Ivy League and highly selective schools, and especially BS/MD programs, admissions officers look at every essay from every applicant, and for students who reach the level of serious consideration, essays may end up being read multiple times.

Through our years of experience, we know that the main requirement for writing a convincing, compelling, memorable and winning essays, aside from a command of the English language, grammar, coherency, optimal tone, readability, structure and flow, is to convey who you really are.  Find your “voice”. We help our clients find their unique voice during our numerous in-depth interview questions and student profile analysis.  Your voice is that writing style that lets your admissions officers “hear” who you are.

Competitive colleges and BS/MD program also require applicants to write several corresponding supplemental essays and short answers on a variety of topics. These essays are interconnected and interrelated. A 150-character answer as well as a 250-word essay is as important as the main essay. Naturally, your essays should not be repetitive, but should present a consistent image of the applicant.  We know that a well-coordinated essay set has a synergistic effect on the admissions committee: It provides a 360-degree view of the candidate on both a professional and personal level.

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Our analogy to an essay is music:  We help you revise your lyrics using our knowledge of you, your character and activities so that the admissions officers can happily sing your songs – your essays!

Dr. Lowe and his team of admissions advisors provide advice to make your essays personable, enlightening, energetic, harmonious and memorable to admissions officers.  We suggest content improvement and help you develop admissions-effective essays. Our goal is to make our clients standout from the crowd and pass that all-important final cut! 

Our over 20 years of advisory admissions experience and long-standing professional relationships with admissions officers provide us with the tool-kit of strategies and knowledge to help our clients successfully navigate the BS/MD Admissions process in the COVID-19 landscape.

Our BS/MD Admissions practice is specialized: Dr. Lowe and his team only work with parents who understand that the BS/MD admissions process is competitive, who desire help from an admissions expert and who see the value and investment in paying for expert advice through a detailed and ongoing comprehensive admissions advisory service for their child’s dream of becoming a doctor.  He also specializes in helping international students in the BS/MD process. BS/MD Admissions Advisors – 2020 Acceptances.  Parents who chose to use our services want to call their son or daughter – “Doctor” when they are seniors in high school.

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Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group network.  He and his team of admissions advisors, through the admissions affiliate, BS/MD Admissions Advisors, help high school students get accepted to BS/MD programs. 

 

Rising Seniors: Now Is the Time to Start the College Application Process

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It’s August and for some rising seniors, school starts in approximately 30 days.  For many students, school will be closed and taught in an online fashion.  That in and of itself will be an additional disruption in the dynamics of the college admissions process. You can use this time to continue to vacation, relax and enjoy the summer or take full advantage of all this free time!

For rising seniors, now is the best time to commence working on your college applications. Why so soon?  The 2020-2021 Common Application is now ready!  The senior year of high school is extremely busy with students taking difficult courses, working on activities, preparing for college applications and just trying to enjoy the last year of high school!

We believe that you should enjoy the summer, HOWEVER, at this point, you need to start putting some work in to your college applications.  It will make your senior year more pleasant AND your college admissions application and journey smoother.

It’s August and for some rising seniors, school starts in approximately 30 days.  For many students, school will be closed and taught in an online fashion.  That in and of itself will be an additional disruption in the dynamics of the college admissions process. You can use this time to continue to vacation, relax and enjoy the summer or take full advantage of all this free time!

For rising seniors, now is the best time to commence working on your college applications. Why so soon?  The 2020-2021 Common Application is now ready!  The senior year of high school is extremely busy with students taking difficult courses, working on activities, preparing for college applications and just trying to enjoy the last year of high school!

We believe that you should enjoy the summer, HOWEVER, at this point, you need to start putting some work in to your college applications.  It will make your senior year more pleasant AND your college admissions application and journey smoother.

The Common App is more than just the main essay! Every section is devised so that the admissions officers get to know (or find ways to reject) a student.  When reading an application, admissions officers strive to gain a reasonably complete picture of a student – strengths, achievements and aspirations as well as any particular challenges they may have overcome. Statistically, it takes top colleges approximately 8 minutes to review an entire application!

We spend countless hours reviewing our clients’ entire Common Application to help them successfully navigate and avoid the unnecessary and devastating landmines that cause rejections!

  • Biographical Section (Profile, Family, Educational & Testing): The admissions committees or your regional admissions officers assess who you are.  It’s important to answer the questions honestly and with precision!
  • Personal Statement:We ensure that our clients’ Common App 650-word main essay accurately reflects the information that they want to convey to the majority of colleges to which they are applying.
  • College-Specific Questions: Academic interest, program(s) applying to.  Some colleges may also ask additional questions about your family, state of residence, activities, and general interests.  Admissions officers/committees use this as a way further understand a student’s past and their academic goals and objectives and how they are all interrelated and interconnected.
  • Short Answers: Then there are the school-specific (short answer essays)!  Although short, these little essays (50-250 words) can play a meaningful role in your application.  They provide a small window into your passions and personality, and because of this, they are important “decision-breakers”, especially with selective colleges that use the holistic admissions approach.  We spend just as much time brainstorming and helping our clients to revise these, seemingly simple essays, as we do with their personal statements because we know how admissions committees use them to determine acceptance or rejections.  Types of supplemental short essays include but are not limited to:

                 The ‘why us’ essay

Tell us more about an extracurricular

Design a class/a major

Tell us about your major

Diversity-in-community essay

Specialty small essays (list, words or one sentence or a phrase)

  • Activities Section: Whereas the personal statement will show college admissions committees who your child is, the Common Application Activities section will allow colleges to understand what your child has done and is doing outside of the classroom, offering one of the best opportunities to stand out among other applicants.  The activities section has a limit of ten extracurricular activities. The restrictions mean you will need to be selective in reporting your activities, limiting you to the most important ones or those that are most meaningful to you. In our experience, students can make costly mistakes in this section!

Without college essays and extracurricular activities lists, colleges would be limited to grades, class rank, and ACT and SAT scores to make their admissions decisions. Given that so many students with strong numbers apply to college each year, it’s important for your child to use the Activities section to develop an application theme, that is, their “WOW FACTOR” and specialties.  We leave no stone unturned in this section!

  • Courses & Grades (Self-Reporting Transcripts). In this section, you have an opportunity to self-report your grades.  In reviewing our clients’ answers, we find errors.  It’s important to review this section.  A discrepancy with what you report and your transcript raises a red flag!  These flags translate into a rejection letter.

The Common Application is not just an application.  It’s a puzzle filled with landmines that if not reviewed, interpreted and completed correctly will result in students being rejected from schools.  The most frequent form of self-inflicted damage is careless preparation of the application.  A poorly presented application can, in fact, have a negative affect on an admissions decision.

When assisting our clients with the completion of their Common Applications, we take into consideration their student admissions profile and character as well as the specific admissions policies and missions of their target schools that we gather from our research by visiting schools and professional relationships.  Our proprietary knowledge and experience help our clients to WIN (not lose) in the college competitive admissions game!

The ‘why us’ essay

Tell us more about an extracurricular

Design a class/a major

Tell us about your major

Diversity-in-community essay

Specialty small essays (list, words or one sentence or a phrase)

  • Activities Section: Whereas the personal statement will show college admissions committees who your child is, the Common Application Activities section will allow colleges to understand what your child has done and is doing outside of the classroom, offering one of the best opportunities to stand out among other applicants.  The activities section has a limit of ten extracurricular activities. The restrictions mean you will need to be selective in reporting your activities, limiting you to the most important ones or those that are most meaningful to you. In our experience, students can make costly mistakes in this section!

Without college essays and extracurricular activities lists, colleges would be limited to grades, class rank, and ACT and SAT scores to make their admissions decisions. Given that so many students with strong numbers apply to college each year, it’s important for your child to use the Activities section to develop an application theme, that is, their “WOW FACTOR” and specialties.  We leave no stone unturned in this section!

  • Courses & Grades (Self-Reporting Transcripts). In this section, you have an opportunity to self-report your grades.  In reviewing our clients’ answers, we find errors.  It’s important to review this section.  A discrepancy with what you report and your transcript raises a red flag!  These flags translate into a rejection letter.

The Common Application is not just an application.  It’s a puzzle filled with landmines that if not reviewed, interpreted and completed correctly will result in students being rejected from schools.  The most frequent form of self-inflicted damage is careless preparation of the application.  A poorly presented application can, in fact, have a negative affect on an admissions decision.

When assisting our clients with the completion of their Common Applications, we take into consideration their student admissions profile and character as well as the specific admissions policies and missions of their target schools that we gather from our research by visiting schools and professional relationships.  Our proprietary knowledge and experience help our clients to WIN (not lose) in the college competitive admissions game!

accepted_application-accepted_Dr_Paul_Lowe_Admissions_Advisor_Independent_Educational_ConsultantDr_Paul Lowe_Ivy_League_Admissions_Expert_Advice

“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe

“Parents hire us because they choose to pay an admissions expert who will help them avoid making mistakes.” – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college: College Transfer Admissions Advisors.