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Bad College Essay Examples to Avoid When Writing Your Essay

Filed in Education by on June 11, 2021

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In as much as there are some good examples of college essays available, there are also some bad college essay examples that you will need to avoid when writing your essay. Well, with the aid of this article, you would see some of the bad college essay examples to guide you in writing your masterpiece.

Bad College Essay Examples to Avoid When Writing Your Essay

The application essay, sometimes called the personal statement, can be an applicant’s main shot at showcasing their personality and grabbing the admissions officer’s attention. Selecting the right essay topic is important, and it can be tough to know where to start.

What Makes a Bad College Essay

What exactly happens to turn a college essay terrible? Just as great personal statements combine an unexpected topic with superb execution, flawed personal statements compound problematic subject matter with poor execution. Below are some of the points that make an essay bad;

1. 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. Badly chosen essay content can easily create an essay that is off-putting in one of a number of ways I’ll discuss in the next section.

The essay is the place to let the admissions office of your target college get to know your personality, character, and the talents and skills that aren’t on your transcript. So if you start with a terrible topic, not only will you end up with a bad essay, but you risk ruining the good impression that the rest of your application makes.

Reasons why choosing the wrong topic could be a problem;

  • Some bad topics show admissions officers that you don’t have a good sense of judgment or maturity.
  • Other bad topics suggest that you are a boring person.
  • Still, other bad topics indicate that you’re unaware of or disconnected from the outside world and focused only on yourself.

2. The Body Essay 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. This is because the admissions essay is also a place to show the admissions team the maturity and clarity of your writing style.

Things to avoid;

  • Avoid exhibiting very faulty writing mechanics.
  • Avoid ignoring prompt instructions either for creative or careless reasons.

College Essay Topics To Avoid

Want to know why you’re often advised to write about something mundane and every day for your college essay? That’s because the more out-there your topic, the more likely it is to stumble into one of these trouble categories.

1. Too Personal

The problem with the overly personal essay topic is that revealing something very private can show that you don’t understand boundaries. And knowing where appropriate boundaries are will be key for living on your own with a bunch of people not related to you.

Examples:

  • Describing losing your virginity, or anything about your sex life.
  • Writing in too much detail about your illness, disability, any other bodily functions.
  • Waxing poetic about your love for your significant other.
  • Confessing to odd and unusual desires of the sexual or illegal variety.

2. Too Revealing of Bad Judgment

Generally speaking, leave past illegal or immoral actions out of your essay. It’s simply a bad idea to give admissions officers ammunition to dislike you.

Examples:

  • Writing about committing a crime as something fun or exciting.
  • Describing drug use or the experience of being drunk or high.
  • Making up fictional stories about yourself as though they are true.
  • Detailing your personality flaws.

3. Too Overconfident

While it’s great to have faith in your abilities, no one likes a relentless show-off. No matter how magnificent your accomplishments, if you decide to focus your essay on them, it’s better to describe a setback or a moment of doubt rather than simply praising yourself to the skies.

Examples:

  • Bragging and making yourself the flawless hero of your essay.
  • Having no awareness of the actual scope of your accomplishments.

4. Too Clichéd or Boring

Remember your reader. In this case, you’re trying to make yourself memorable to an admissions officer who has been reading thousands of other essays. If your essay makes the mistake of being boring or trite, it just won’t register in that person’s mind as anything worth paying attention to.

Examples:

  • Transcribing your resume into sentence form or writing about the main activity on your transcript.
  • Writing about sports.
  • Being moved by your community service trip to a third-world country. 
  • Reacting with sadness to a sad, but very common experience.
  • Going meta. Please don’t write about the fact that you’re writing the essay as we speak, and now the reader is reading it, and look, the essay is right here in the reader’s hand. It’s a technique that seems clever but has already been done many times in many different ways.
  • Offering your ideas on how to fix the world. This is especially true if your solution is an easy fix if only everyone would just listen to you. Trust me; there’s just no way you are being realistically appreciative of the level of complexity inherent in the problem you’re describing.
  • Starting with a famous quotation. There usually is no need to show up your own words by bringing in someone else’s. Of course, if you are writing about a particular phrase that you’ve adopted as a life motto, feel free to include it. But even then, having it be the first line in your essay feels like you’re handing the keys over to that author and asking them to drive.
  • Using an everyday object as a metaphor for your life/personality.

5. Too Off-Topic

Unlike the essays you’ve been writing in school where the idea is to analyze something outside of yourself, the main subject of your college essay should be you, your background, your makeup, and your future. Writing about someone or something else might well make a great essay, but not for this context.

Examples:

  • Paying tribute to someone very important to you.
  • Documenting how well other people do things, say things, are active, while you remain passive and inactive in the essay.
  • Concentrating on a work of art that deeply moved you.

Bad college Essay Examples

These are some of the bad college essay examples, which you should read carefully and take notes of some of their mistakes;

Essay #1: The “I Once Saw Poor People” Service Trip Essay

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 greedy 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 2006, 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 actually to 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 what our group leader had told us.

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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 short 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?” I looked down to see a small boy, around nine years of age, who looked starved, and cold, wearing tattered clothing, comforting me.
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.

Essay #2: The “I Am Writing This Essay as We Speak” Meta-Narrative

Was your childhood home destroyed by a landspout tornado? Yeah, neither was mine. I know that intro might have given the impression that this college essay will be about withstanding disasters, but the truth is that it isn’t about that at all.
In my junior year, I always had in mind an image of myself finishing the college essay months before the deadline. But as the weeks dragged on and the deadline drew near, it soon became clear that at the rate things are going I would probably have to make new plans for my October, November and December.
Falling into my personal wormhole, I sat down with my mom to talk about colleges. “Maybe you should write about Star Trek,” she suggested, “you know how you’ve always been obsessed with Captain Picard, calling him your dream mentor. Unique hobbies make good topics, right? You’ll sound creative!” I played with the thought in my mind, tapping my imaginary communicator pin and whispering “Computer. Tea. Earl Grey.

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Hot. And then an Essay.” Nothing happened. Instead, I sat quietly in my room wrote the old-fashioned way. Days later I emerged from my room disheveled, but to my dismay, this college essay made me sound like just a guy who can’t get over the fact that he’ll never take the Starfleet Academy entrance exam. So, I tossed my essay away without even getting to disintegrate it with a phaser set on stun.
I fell into a state of panic. My college essay. My image of myself in senior year. Almost out of nowhere, Robert Jameson Smith offered his words of advice. Perfect! He suggested students begin their college essay by listing their achievements and letting their essay materialize from there.
My heart lifted, I took his advice and listed three of my greatest achievements – mastering my backgammon strategy, being a part of TREE in my sophomore year, and performing “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” from The Pirates of Penzance in public. And sure enough, I felt inspiration hit me and began to type away furiously into the keyboard about my experience in TREE, or Trees Require Engaged Environmentalists.
I reflected on the current state of deforestation, and described the dichotomy of it being both understandable why farmers cut down forests for farmland, and how dangerous this is to our planet. Finally, I added my personal epiphany to the end of my college essay as the cherry on the vanilla sundae, as the overused saying goes.

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After 3 weeks of figuring myself out, I have converted myself into a piece of writing. As far as achievements go, this was definitely an amazing one. The ability to transform a human being into 603 words surely deserves a gold medal. Yet in this essay, I was still being nagged by a voice that couldn’t be ignored. Eventually, I submitted to that yelling inner voice and decided that this was not the right essay either.
In the middle of a hike through Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, I realized that the college essay was nothing more than an embodiment of my character. The two essays I have written were not right because they have failed to become more than just words on recycled paper. The subject failed to come alive. Certainly my keen interest in Star Trek and my enthusiasm for TREE are a great part of who I am, but there were other qualities essential in my character that did not come across in the essays.
With this realization, I turned around as quickly as I could without crashing into a tree.

Getting that admission into your college choice is just a step away. All you need to do is to follow the instructions given above that are on; bad college essay examples and avoid making that same mistake. GOOD LUCK.

Also, do well to share this link with all your friends and loved ones. That is on all your social media platforms.

CSN Team.

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