Numerous aspiring students find applying to college to be a challenging undertaking. The task becomes even more daunting for those whose first language is not English, as crafting a college application can be especially intimidating.
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To assist you in this process, we have compiled a list of students’ most prevalent mistakes. You can impress your admissions officer with impeccably written materials by avoiding these errors. Enjoy the journey toward a successful application!
Not Planning Before Writing
Your personal statement is a chance for you to explain why you want to study a specific course. It’s a way to discuss your skills, ambitions, experiences, and achievements. Don’t rush into writing it.
To create a good personal statement, you need to plan carefully.
Tip: Before you start writing, make a mind map to help you remember all the important topics you want to include. Sometimes, we forget about all the great things we’ve done! Then, think about how these things connect to the course you want to study.
Inclusion of Random Anecdotes
Organizing your experiences and demonstrating how your achievements and interests align with the course you’re applying for is crucial. Only include accomplishments and stories that are relevant to your chosen course!
Tip: Use the ‘ABC’ writing structure to avoid adding unrelated anecdotes.
Action: Share what you’ve done to gain knowledge about the course you want to pursue.
Benefit: Explain the benefits of those actions and what you learned from them.
Course: Illustrate how your learning has prepared you for this course and how taking it will benefit your future.
4000 Words or Characters? Don’t Confuse Them!
Colleges usually tell you how many words they want you to write, and that’s called the word count. Sometimes, they might specify a character count, which includes spaces, letters, numbers, and punctuation.
For example, the Undergraduate Application Form by the Online Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) allows you to type up to 4000 characters, which is about 700 words.
Tip: Understand the distinction between word count and character count, and be mindful of the requirement when writing your application.
The Cliché of the Opening Paragraph
Learn the art of storytelling. When applying for your course, consider what event or experience ignited your passion for the subject.
Many students often begin their statement with something like, “I’ve wanted to study X since I was a child.” But this doesn’t captivate the admissions officer because a) they have probably read countless other applications saying the same thing, and b) the duration of your interest doesn’t reveal much about you.
However, sharing the story of how your interest in the subject was born is a different matter. They want to hear this, and it will genuinely grab their attention.
Tip: Can you pinpoint a specific moment or experience that sparked your interest in your chosen course? Share that story in your opening paragraph!
Excessive Use of Thesaurus
A thesaurus can be a valuable tool during your college years, but knowing when and how to use it is essential. Using the wrong synonym can disrupt the flow of your writing and confuse the reader.
For example, searching for a synonym for ‘hard-working’ in an online thesaurus might find words like ‘assiduous,’ ‘persevering,’ and ‘seditious.’
But be careful not to simply replace “hard-working” with one of these words, as they have different shades of meaning. If you use one of these words incorrectly, it will show the admissions officer that you used a complex word without fully understanding its meaning. That won’t impress them.
Remember, many words can have multiple meanings, especially phrasal verbs!
Tip: Only use words from the thesaurus if you’re confident you know their meaning in the context you’re using them.
Excessive Use of Cohesive Devices
You want your college application to be easy to read and flow smoothly. To achieve this, you can use cohesive devices, which are words that help connect different parts of your application. These devices can be called linkers, link devices, transitions, transition phrases, or signposts.
Can you guess the most common mistake students make with cohesive devices in their college applications? Just like with synonyms, students often misuse these words in their writing.
It’s essential to use language purposefully. When writing your college application, only use words or phrases that you understand, and that genuinely improve the readability of your writing.
Tip: Look for sample college application examples on the Internet. Check how many cohesive devices you use and consider which could enhance your application.
Because you are writing for academic purposes, it’s essential to maintain a formal tone in your writing.
Tip: After completing your application, take a moment to review it and ensure that you haven’t used any contractions or slang words.
Forget to Correct
Don’t depend solely on grammar and spell check to find all mistakes. Words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings are called homophones. For example, ‘their’ and ‘there’ are homophones.
Homophones can cause trouble for English learners in writing because they sometimes forget which spelling is right for the context. The spell checker won’t always catch mistakes with homophones, so it’s crucial to review your application for spelling and grammar errors on your own whenever possible.
Tip: Consider using software like Grammarly to catch some of the mistakes that the regular spell checker might miss.
If you feel like you’re not getting any help writing your college application, it’s crucial to consider seeking assistance.
Tip: Enroll in English writing lessons with English Online, General English, or IELTS Trainer. Skilled teachers teach these courses and concentrate on academic and professional writing.
Now, go ahead and apply for the course you’ve always dreamt of!