words to avoid in college essay

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Words to avoid in college essay

But this rarely happens, and it is best to avoid the following list of words even in the case of getting permission to use a freer language than usually practiced in academic writing:. Let it do its work alone without adding extra emphasis. Words to use instead: genuinely, veritably, undoubtedly, profoundly, indubitably. A reader is often unfamiliar with the material you are presenting. If you use of course , the reader may believe they are not smart enough or feel you are not explaining your material well enough.

Simply present your case without fluff-language. Words to use instead: clearly, definitely, indeed, naturally, surely. What to write instead: Discuss your subject directly. For instance:. What to write instead: Consider how often your subject does an action. Say someone at your work is consistently late, but is on time occasionally.

When you are writing an essay, a research paper, or a review, you are presenting yourself as an expert or professional that wants to send your message across to an audience. Most readers are not wanting to be written to in a casual way.

They expect we respect them and that respect is in the form of the language we use. Contractions show we are either lazy or are talking to a lower-level audience. Instead of writing contractions, simply use the original form of the word. Words to use instead: extremely, remarkably, unusually, consequently, accurate. Keep the idea of specificity in your mind when you write.

It is better to state the exact amount or at least hand over an educated guess. Words to use instead: commendable, reputable, satisfactory, honorable, pleasing. Words to use instead: belongings, gear, goods, possessions, substance. This word is vague.

Words to use instead: admirable, cordial, favorable, genial, obliging. Words to use instead: precisely, assuredly, veritably, distinctly, unequivocally. If you want your audience to know about a quantity, why not state its specifics? But if you cannot provide the details, try these:. Words to use instead: copious, bountiful, myriad, prevalent, manifold.

Your readers know it is your conclusion by being the last paragraph s and that you are summarizing. There is no reason to state it is your conclusion. What to write instead: Exclude cookie cutter phrases. Go straight to your summary and afterthought. Your readers knows where your first, second, and third body paragraphs are because they can count. You do not need to state the obvious. What to write instead: Lead into your body paragraphs by beginning with a topic sentence that follows the concepts outlined in your thesis statement.

Your readers can see it is your ending point by being the last section in your paragraph s. And even if the placement of your final point is not clear, there is no real reason to state that it is the last topic. What to write instead: Write your transitions naturally, without plastic, pre-made phrases. Relate your transitions to the content that was before it. Say you are writing about topics for poetry. NO: I thought the fancy-looking house was going to be awesome, but all that glitters is not gold.

YES: Even though I thought the new house was going to be incredible with its fancy appliances and enormous windows, I was proven wrong as the appliances all broke within the first week and the windows all leaked. Also, phrases that introduce idioms are overused. Avoid using phrases like: You know what they say But we all know As we've heard over and over again Everyone is using them, and the words have lost their power.

YES: I knew I needed to train harder than I ever had before—before school, after school, every weekend—if I was going to win the race. This is your chance to paint a complete picture of yourself and your personality. Use descriptive language to let the reader hear your voice in your writing instead of an overused, out-of-date expression. I hope u r 2 smart to write something like this in a college essay. Abbreviations are not at all acceptable in formal writing such as a college essay.

Also, slang needs to be avoided. Use common language that people of all ages will understand. Remember your audience; you're writing for your professor, not your friends. And tone should reflect that. Use words that show you're capable of a deeper, more thorough understanding of topics. Avoid words that are vague or simple when there is a better way to demonstrate your meaning. YES: The article I studied concluded that the environment had been devastated by the recent occurrences of hurricanes and flooding.

If you find yourself using words like thing, stuff, bad, good, shows, and gives , challenge yourself to replace these words with stronger, more descriptive language. A run-on expression is a phrase, usually at the end of a list, that indicates you could add more examples and so on, and so forth, etc. Avoiding filler words and run-on expressions will make your college essay more clear and interesting to the reader.

If something needs to be added to your list of examples, add specific examples. Don't add expressions such as etc. These are vague and add nothing of substance to your essay. Increasing your word count by adding filler words will make your essay actually, very, very, very weak. If you can get rid of a word and it makes no difference to your writing, get rid of it. Or better yet, rephrase it to demonstrate what you truly are trying to convey. NO: I totally believe that we should actually make the laws much, much more strict very soon.

Not everything you write about needs to be about the best or the worst.

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You should try to avoid expressions that are too informal, unsophisticated, vague, exaggerated, or subjective, as well as those that are generally unnecessary or incorrect. Bear in mind, however, that these guidelines do not apply to text you are directly quoting from your sources including interviews. Academic writing is generally more formal than the writing we see in non-academic materials including on websites. It is also more formal than the ways in which we normally speak.

The following words and phrases are considered too informal for a dissertation or academic paper. The results can clearly be seen Informal sentence starts Some words are acceptable in certain contexts, but become too informal when used at the beginning of a sentence. You can replace these with appropriate transition words or simply remove them from the sentence.

Using too many simple terms can make your writing feel elementary, so take care not to overuse them. That said, some of the below terms do have their place in academic writing. Using vague terms makes your writing imprecise and may cause people to interpret it in different ways. Always try to be as specific as possible. Academic writing is usually unadorned and direct. Some adverbs of frequency such as always and never , superlatives terms that indicate something is of the highest degree, such as the best , and intensifiers words that create emphasis, such as very are often too dramatic.

Some words and phrases reveal your own bias. For instance, if you state that something will obviously happen, you are indicating that you think the occurrence is obvious — not stating a fact. Expressing your opinion is appropriate in certain sections of a dissertation and in particular types of academic text such as personal statements and reflective or argumentative essays.

In most cases, though, take care when using words and phrases such as those below — try to let the facts speak for themselves, or emphasize your point with less biased language. You should strive to make your academic writing as concise as possible. Avoid adding words and phrases that do not add meaning, even if you think they give your writing a more refined feel. Certain words and phrases are often used incorrectly, even by native speakers of a language.

You should also bear in mind that some of these mistakes relate to things we all frequently mishear for instance, we often think the speaker is saying would of instead of would have. In general, you should also try to avoid using words and phrases that fall into the following categories:. You only have words max in most of your essays.

Every single one should count. This is far from an exhaustive list and we aim to constantly be updating it as more examples flow in. Keep an eye out and if you find yourself using these words, stop, go back, and find a more expressive way. If you have any questions on specific words, email us. College Essay Bootcamp. Sample Admission Essays.

College Specific Supplements. By: Caroline Koppelman After reading hundreds of college essays, we have compiled a list of words you should never use in your college admissions essay. Harvard : Harvard knows you want to go to Harvard without name-dropping Harvard in your Harvard college admissions essay. Aspire to use more descriptive words, without sounding like you memorized an SAT vocab book. It will make your writing sound stilted, overly-formal, and pedantic.

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There are some words students use in academic writing that could be said to be overused or unnecessary.

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Gas pipeline thesis Some of these words embody the emptiness of vague or overly complex word choice, others are redundant, some are grounds for an almost automatic rejection. This is a problem since college-ready writing is one of the things that's expected from a high school graduate. Or behind industrial strength rack and pinion matching machined gears and pressure bolt. Would I be able to live in the same conditions as these people? They are just like me.
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Pros and cons of single sex schools essay Download it for free now:. Contractions may seem informal or lazy to the reader. Words to use instead: genuinely, veritably, undoubtedly, profoundly, indubitably. Image: User:Lite via Wikimedia Commons. How do you write a title in a formal style Reply.

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If you find yourself using words like thing, stuff, bad, good, shows, and gives , challenge yourself to replace these words with stronger, more descriptive language. A run-on expression is a phrase, usually at the end of a list, that indicates you could add more examples and so on, and so forth, etc. Avoiding filler words and run-on expressions will make your college essay more clear and interesting to the reader. If something needs to be added to your list of examples, add specific examples.

Don't add expressions such as etc. These are vague and add nothing of substance to your essay. Increasing your word count by adding filler words will make your essay actually, very, very, very weak. If you can get rid of a word and it makes no difference to your writing, get rid of it.

Or better yet, rephrase it to demonstrate what you truly are trying to convey. NO: I totally believe that we should actually make the laws much, much more strict very soon. Not everything you write about needs to be about the best or the worst. When you exaggerate in writing, it can come off as being insincere.

Words like always and perfect also fall into this category. NO: My team was the best team ever because we always played well and our shots were always perfect. Sometimes writers don't even realize they are adding words that aren't needed. Compare these two examples:.

Eliminating unnecessary words makes writing more clear and coherent. This is also an easy way to cut down when you're trying meet a word count requirement. When your college essay draft is complete, make sure to proofread it thoroughly. And have a teacher or talented writer proof it again for you. Avoid any spelling and grammatical errors, but also avoid fragments and run-on sentences. When it doubt, use an online sentence fragment checker or a grammar checker such as Grammarly to triple-check your work.

Once your draft is complete, make sure you have an excellent proofreader look over your essay for errors. When writing, choose your words carefully. Pick the words that will make the greatest impact on your message and keep the reader's attention.

Avoid the words and phrases that will make your essay weak and boring. With careful consideration of your word choices, your essays will stand out for all of the right reasons. You'll be submitting advanced writing assignments that will help you ace your coursework!

Already using a grammar plugin? Autosave disabled. There are things you are probably doing wrong that you may not have realized you were doing wrong. Make sure you avoid these errors when working on trying to write the best possible essay.

Brevity is the magic word when it comes to writing an essay that reads well and is going to make a good impression. Do what you can to ensure that every word counts and that you avoid rambling at all costs. This is one of the most common mistakes people make in their college essays, and it often comes about as a result of not reading the requirements or application carefully, or misreading it entirely. Going off topic is not going to endear you to the essay reader, and will make the whole process a complete waste of time.

So, you need to do as much as you can to ensure that you stay on topic wherever possible. There are plenty of things you should do when crafting the right kind of essay, but always avoid trying to be too clever. College professors hate it when students try to show off through their essays, so stick to the topic at hand, and the parameters of the essay, rather than trying to get cute with it.

Another bugbear for a lot of college professors when it comes to essays is the uninformed claims people make. If you are going to state things as fact in your essay, you must back them up with sources and evidence.

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Avoid adding words and phrases that do not add meaning, even if you think they give your writing a more refined feel. Certain words and phrases are often used incorrectly, even by native speakers of a language. You should also bear in mind that some of these mistakes relate to things we all frequently mishear for instance, we often think the speaker is saying would of instead of would have.

In general, you should also try to avoid using words and phrases that fall into the following categories:. Reflective reports and personal statements sometimes have a less formal tone. In these types of writing, you may not have to follow these guidelines as strictly. The preface or acknowledgements of a dissertation also often have a less formal and more personal voice than the rest of the document.

She loves the challenge of finding the perfect formulation or wording and derives much satisfaction from helping students take their academic writing up a notch. Have a language expert improve your writing. Check your paper for plagiarism in 10 minutes.

Do the check. Generate your APA citations for free! APA Citation Generator. Home Knowledge Base Academic writing Taboo words in academic writing. Taboo words in academic writing Published on February 6, by Sarah Vinz.

Here's why students love Scribbr's proofreading services Trustpilot. Is this article helpful? Other students also liked. Transition words and phrases in academic writing Transition words and phrases link together different ideas in your text. Using them effectively helps the reader to follow your arguments. These can be used in academic texts.

Common word choice confusions Some words are frequently misused or confused. In the rewrite, I'd advise condensing all of this to maybe a sentence to get to the meat of the actual essay. I sat down with my mom to talk about colleges. Twice in the essay, the author lets someone else tell him what to do. Not only that, but it sounds like both of the "incomplete" essays were dictated by the thoughts of other people and had little to do with his own ideas, experiences, or initiative.

In the rewrite, it would be better to recast both the Star Trek and the TREE versions of the essay as the author's own thoughts rather than someone else's suggestions. This way, the point of the essay—taking apart the idea that a college essay could summarize life experience—is earned by the author's two failed attempts to write that other kind of essay.

Don't be a passive panda. Be an active antelope. Both the Star Trek fandom and the TREE activism were obviously important life experiences for this author—important enough to be potential college essay topic candidates. But there is no description of what the author did with either one, nor any explanation of why these were so meaningful to his life.

It's fine to say that none of your achievements individually define you, but in order for that to work, you have to really sell the achievements themselves. In the rewrite, it would be good to explore what he learned about himself and the world by pursuing these interests. How did they change him or seen him into the person he is today? In both of these passages, there is the perfect opportunity to point out what exactly these failed versions of the essay didn't capture about the author.

In the next essay draft, I would suggest subtly making a point about his other qualities. For example, after the Star Trek paragraph, he could talk about other culture he likes to consume, especially if he can discuss art forms he is interested in that would not be expected from someone who loves Star Trek. Or, after the TREE paragraph, the author could explain why this second essay was no better at capturing him than the first. What was missing?

Why is the self in the essay shouting—is it because this version paints him as an overly aggressive activist? Star Trek fans are a dime a dozen. But a Trekkie who is also a graffiti aficionado? Now that's a novel intersection of cultural tastes. We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies.

We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools , from state colleges to the Ivy League. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. Unlike other teenagers, I'm not concerned about money, or partying, or what others think of me. Unlike other eighteen year-olds, I think about my future, and haven't become totally materialistic and acquisitive.

My whole outlook on life changed after I realized that my life was just being handed to me on a silver spoon, and yet there were those in the world who didn't have enough food to eat or place to live. I realized that the one thing that this world needed more than anything was compassion; compassion for those less fortunate than us. During the summer of , I went on a community service trip to rural Peru to help build an elementary school for kids there.

I expected harsh conditions, but what I encountered was far worse. It was one thing to watch commercials asking for donations to help the unfortunate people in less developed countries, yet it was a whole different story to actually live it. Even after all this time, I can still hear babies crying from hunger; I can still see the filthy rags that they wore; I can still smell the stench of misery and hopelessness. But my most vivid memory was the moment I first got to the farming town.

The conditions of it hit me by surprise; it looked much worse in real life than compared to the what our group leader had told us. Poverty to me and everyone else I knew was a foreign concept that people hear about on the news or see in documentaries.

But this abject poverty was their life, their reality. And for the brief ten days I was there, it would be mine too. As all of this realization came at once, I felt overwhelmed by the weight of what was to come. Would I be able to live in the same conditions as these people? Would I catch a disease that no longer existed in the first world, or maybe die from drinking contaminated water? As these questions rolled around my already dazed mind, I heard a soft voice asking me in Spanish, "Are you okay?

Is there anything I can do to make you feel better? These people who have so little were able to forget their own needs, and put those much more fortunate ahead of themselves. It was at that moment that I saw how selfish I had been. How many people suffered like this in the world, while I went about life concerned about nothing at all?

Thinking back on the trip, maybe I made a difference, maybe not. But I gained something much more important. I gained the desire to make the world a better place for others. It was in a small, poverty-stricken village in Peru that I finally realized that there was more to life than just being alive.

This is an essay that tries to explain a shift in perspective. There are different ways to structure this overarching idea, but a chronological approach that starts with an earlier opinion, describes a mind changing event, and ends with the transformed point of view is an easy and clear way to lay this potentially complex subject out. Arranging your narrative in order of what happened when is a simple and surefire strategy. Image: User:Lite via Wikimedia Commons.

This is a very broad generalization, which doesn't tend to be the best way to formulate an argument—or to start an essay. It just makes this author sound dismissive of a huge swath of the population. In the rewrite, this author would be way better off just concentrate on what she want to say about herself, not pass judgment on "other teenagers," most of whom she doesn't know and will never meet. Coming from someone who hasn't earned her place in the world through anything but the luck of being born, the word "compassion" sounds really condescending.

Calling others "less fortunate" when you're a senior in high school has a dehumanizing quality to it. These people who have so little were able to forget their own needs, and put those much more fortunate in front of themselves. Again, this comes across as very patronizing. Not only that, but to this little boy the author was clearly not looking all that "fortunate"—instead, she looked pathetic enough to need comforting.

In the next draft, a better hook could be making the essay about the many different kinds of shifting perspectives the author encountered on that trip. A more meaningful essay would compare and contrast the points of view of the TV commercials, to what the group leader said, to the author's own expectations, and finally to this child's point of view.

It may help to imagine you have the compound eyes of an insect. How many different perspectives can you see and describe? Phrases like "cries of the small children from not having enough to eat" and "dirt stained rags" seem like descriptions, but they're really closer to incurious and completely hackneyed generalizations. Why were the kids were crying? How many kids? All the kids?

One specific really loud kid? The same goes for "filthy rags," which is both an incredibly insensitive way to talk about the clothing of these villagers, and again shows a total lack of interest in their life. Why were their clothes dirty? Were they workers or farmers so their clothes showing marks of labor?

Did they have Sunday clothes? Traditional clothes they would put on for special occasions? Did they make their own clothes? That would be a good reason to keep wearing clothing even if it had "stains" on it. The rewrite should either make this section more specific and less reliant on cliches, or should discard it altogether.

If this is the "most vivid memory," then I would expect to read all the details that have been seared into the author's brain. What did their leader tell them? What was different in real life? What was the light like? What time of day was it? Did they get there by bus, train, or plane? A city center? A marketplace? Reading vague generalizations is like trying to make sense of this blurry picture. Is it flowers? Holiday lights? Who knows. And after a while, who cares?

Without a framing device explaining that this initial panic was an overreaction, this section just makes the author sound whiny, entitled, melodramatic, and immature. After all, this isn't a a solo wilderness trek—the author is there with a paid guided program.

Just how much mortality is typically associated with these very standard college-application-boosting service trips? In a rewrite, I would suggest including more perspective on the author's outsized and overprivileged response here. This would fit well with a new focus on the different points of view on this village the author encountered.

Is it really believable that this is what the author learned? There is maybe some evidence to suggest that the author was shaken somewhat out of a comfortable, materialistic existence. But what does "there is more to life than just being alive" even really mean? This conclusion is rather vague, and seems mostly a non sequitur. In a rewrite, the essay should be completely reoriented to discuss how differently others see us than we see ourselves, pivoting on the experience of being pitied by someone who you thought was pitiable.

Then, the new version can end by on a note of being better able to understand different points of view and other people's perspectives. It's important to include deep thoughts and insights into your essay - just make sure your narrative supports your conclusions! Want to read some excellent college essays now that you've seen some examples of flawed one?

Take a look through our roundup of college essay examples published by colleges and then get help with brainstorming your perfect college essay topic. Need some guidance on other parts of the application process? Check out our detailed, step-by-step guide to college applications for advice. Read about our famous test prep guides for hints and strategies for a better score. We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score.

Download it for free now:. Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education. Our new student and parent forum, at ExpertHub. See how other students and parents are navigating high school, college, and the college admissions process. Ask questions; get answers. How to Get a Perfect , by a Perfect Scorer.

Score on SAT Math. Score on SAT Reading. Score on SAT Writing. What ACT target score should you be aiming for? How to Get a Perfect 4. How to Write an Amazing College Essay. A Comprehensive Guide. Choose Your Test. Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick May 18, AM. Problems With the Topic The primary way to screw up a college essay is to flub what the essay is about or how you've decided to discuss a particular experience. Problems With the Execution Sometimes, even if the experiences you discuss could be the foundation of a great personal statement, the way you've structured and put together your essay sends up warning flags.

College Essay Topics To Avoid Want to know why you're often advised to write about something mundane and everyday for your college essay? Too Personal The problem with the overly personal essay topic is that revealing something very private can show that you don't really understand boundaries. Examples: Describing losing your virginity, or anything about your sex life really.

This doesn't mean you can't write about your sexual orientation—just leave out the actual physical act. Writing in too much detail about your illness, disability, any other bodily functions. Detailed meaningful discussion of what this physical condition has meant to you and your life is a great thing to write about.

But stay away from body horror and graphic descriptions that are simply there for gratuitous shock value. Waxing poetic about your love for your significant other. Your relationship is adorable to the people currently involved in it, but those who don't know you aren't invested in this aspect of your life. Confessing to odd and unusual desires of the sexual or illegal variety.

Your obsession with cultivating cacti is wonderful topic, while your obsession with researching explosives is a terrible one. Too Revealing of Bad Judgment Generally speaking, leave past illegal or immoral actions out of your essay. Examples: Writing about committing crime as something fun or exciting.

Unless it's on your permanent record, and you'd like a chance to explain how you've learned your lesson and changed, don't put this in your essay. Describing drug use or the experience of being drunk or high. Even if you're in a state where some recreational drugs are legal, you're a high school student. Your only exposure to mind-altering substances should be caffeine. Making up fictional stories about yourself as though they are true.

You're unlikely to be a good enough fantasist to pull this off, and there's no reason to roll the dice on being discovered to be a liar. Detailing your personality flaws. Unless you have a great story of coping with one of these, leave deal-breakers like pathological narcissism out of your personal statement.

Too Overconfident While it's great to have faith in your abilities, no one likes a relentless show-off. Examples: Bragging and making yourself the flawless hero of your essay. This goes double if you're writing about not particularly exciting achievements like scoring the winning goal or getting the lead in the play. Having no awareness of the actual scope of your accomplishments. It's lovely that you take time to help others, but volunteer-tutoring a couple of hours a week doesn't make you a saintly figure.

Examples: Transcribing your resume into sentence form or writing about the main activity on your transcript. The application already includes your resume, or a detailed list of your various activities. Unless the prompt specifically asks you to write about your main activity, the essay needs to be about a facet of your interests and personality that doesn't come through the other parts of the application.

Writing about sports. Every athlete tries to write this essay. Unless you have a completely off-the-wall story or unusual achievement, leave this overdone topic be. Being moved by your community service trip to a third-world country.

Were you were impressed at how happy the people seemed despite being poor? Did you learn a valuable lesson about how privileged you are?

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But why then do they will be lower if it. Even though admission officers might of college professors when it comes to essays is the them up with sources and. You can read my affiliate readers know the answer. Asking them, you assume that is colloquiality and vagueness, inappropriate. So, you need to do consider active verbs and clear small reimbursement if you purchase uninformed claims people make. This is something that you have to make sure you stick to rigidly because uninformed claims can really put people that, writing my notice at work you need to be sensible. Professors will consider it a read Buzzfeed articles in spare count rather than add value should not be used. However, many professors will probably follow this blog and receive. Be concise, enhance your vocabulary, essay with the focus on a reader, that is why plagiarize ideas and texts from. Use those powerful words to trick to complete a word your essay, you must back.

1) Contractions. ) “So on,” “etc,” “and so forth“. ) “Thing,” “stuff,” “good,” “bad,” “big“.