About contractions in college essays

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Academic essays are supposed to be composed in formal English. Contractions are applied in informal writing and speech and most instructors don’t approve their application in essays, especially application essays. Contractions should also be avoided in journal and business articles.

Using contractions in app essays

College application essays are a personal statement where you need to convey who you are to the admissions officer. So, on one hand, the more contractions you use, the more likely you will be able to present yourself as a person you really are.

On the other hand, college application essays should use correct punctuation and grammar except in the cases where the use of grammatical contractions is appropriate. For example, when a character in an essay needs to speak in an informal way, you can use contractions. However, do not use poor grammar in general. Your readers will find it off-putting and they will be puzzled by whether or not you used the contractions intentionally or out of ignorance.

How to use contractions in college essays

Students are taught to write like they talk. This often means that you need to rely on contractions to convey the verbal message to your audience. It is a challenge to write a college essay using contractions because academic writing is a formal writing where contractions are frowned upon or even prohibited. However, there are exceptions and knowing how to apply contractions in college essays effectively will improve your writing skills and your confidence.

When to use contractions

Use contractions in the following cases:

  • Check with your instructor about the writing rules. Some teachers follow the rules of formal English all the time and make no exception no matter what the task is. So, in order to get a good grade, you need to follow the rules of your teacher.
  • You can use contractions when you are paraphrasing someone’s words or quoting them directly in your essay. Using quotes is important to capture the manner of speech of the writer. Think about what would be lost if you remove contractions and make the language smoother in your quote.
  • You can use contractions in essays where you are allowed to write in the first-person style. These personal papers include descriptive and narrative essays as well as example and comparison-contrast essays. When working on a personal essay, contractions reflect the way you really speak.
  • You should use contractions consistently throughout your paper, especially within the same proposal.
  • Check the tone of your words. If you wish to show enthusiasm it may be better to say “It’s great!” instead of “It is great.”

Tips on writing college admission essays

There are many tips on essay writing. However, the best ones are the following:

  • Begin as far in advance as possible
  • Insert a story from your real life
  • Engage the reader at the beginning
  • Concentrate on one point about yourself
  • Do not try to impress anyone
  • Don’t try to follow the five-paragraph essay format
  • Follow a familiar and more casual style
  • It is best to write on every day topics
  • Do not list your activities and accomplishments
  • Show your firmness by sharing a problem your faced and solved
  • Make your essay personal

How to write college admission essay

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Start the process by reading the prompts to understand what you need to write about. After that determine what it is you want to show about yourself in your essay. Keep in mind that the objective is to showcase your writing abilities as well as demonstrate your target schools something unexpected and unique about yourself that they would not have learned about you from your application. Think of a topic that will help you stand out among other applicants. It doesn’t have to be impressive, it can be something interesting about yourself.

Starting college application essays

Prompts help you find a subject you can apply to show something about yourself. Think about different ideas for subjects and look for stories or real-life moments from your past that you can share with the audience and show your unique characteristic, quality, main value, or talent.

It is best to start your entry sharing a real-life experience or a situation that demonstrates the point you are making about yourself.

Is it allowed to make stuff up in your college essay?

It is not worth wasting your time making up things for your college app essay for the following reasons:

  • First this is absolutely unethical.
  • Second, it will only hurt you because the whole point of essays is to assist universities and colleges decide whether or not their college is the best place for you. If you give false information about yourself, they won’t be able to figure out whether you are the best fit for their learning goals and needs.
  • Third, admissions officers read thousands of essays and they can spot an essay that tells lies. Write in your authentic voice and style and use the words that will reflect you the best as a person. Very often little flaws and imperfections about you will make you the most likable candidate to colleges.

Using humor

Some of the best college essays include stories from real life that are amusing and entertaining because a student shared some kind of a problem that was funny. However, writing a comedy sketch should not be your goal. This usually backfires. If there is a situation in your life that shows something unique about your character or personality and it happens to be funny, use it. Write it as it is and let the story speak for itself.

Using stories in college essays

When you are writing a college app essay, using stories is the best way to impress the admissions committee. There’s nothing better you can use to show the reader something about yourself then by talking about something that happened to you in the past.

Stories are entertaining and they are the best hooks for the entry in your essay. The attention of readers will be drawn when you are going to tell about a story or something that happened to you. It is recommended to start your paper with the story from real life. This way, your paper will be engaging and specific instead of boring and general. So, remember that if you want to show a point about yourself there’s nothing better than using stories.

Using expletives

When preparing a personal essay, you want to use your everyday language to convey the main point to the readers. However, there is no need to apply to actual expletives. If you are describing a story where someone swore and it is important to convey that moment, find a different way to let the audience know about it.

Coming up with the college essays topics

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A great topic is the one that assists you to show one of your main characteristics or qualities. Brainstorm the situations and moments from your past that show that quality or characteristic.

Also try to think of any problems or difficult situations you have faced. These experiences are often a great topic to show how you manage to solve the problem and what you learned from them.

You don’t have to write about catastrophes however they may work as well. Problems include various mistakes, challenges, changes, failures, phobias, etc.

What colleges look for in your essay

One of the main things schools use essay for is to help admissions officers distinguish applicants from each other. Without essays, they can see only your grades, test scores, and list of activities and achievements. Thus, essays are important to show something original about you.

Schools use essays to determine whether you are the right person for them, as well as learn more about your character and personality. Also, they want to see your writing skills, how interesting you are, how you value learning and thinking, whether you have a judgment, and how likable you are.

Writing about failures

You can write about your failures in your essay as long as you make it clear that you have conquered them successfully and learn something useful for yourself. Writing about failures can make a strong essay. Do not make any excuses, instead offer an explanation. Devote most of your paper talking about how you got out of that situation, what you have learned, and how it made you stronger.

Importance of application essays

Many colleges and schools state that essays are very important in their admission procedure. However, it is impossible to know what part they played in rejections and acceptances on an individual level.

Admissions officers often say that essays are the only instrument they have to learn more about the applicant’s character and personality. It is especially difficult to know the candidates’ personality in the most competitive schools where almost all applicants have near-perfect extracurricular activities, grades, and test scores. So, essays are the only factor that help distinguish candidates from each other.

When writing an essay, you should not worry about how much it matters, instead write the best possible essay to stand out among other candidates and give your potential school a clear sense of your individuality.

Essay grammar mistakes you should avoid

When submitting your college application essay, make sure it is free off the following errors:

  • Missing apostrophes
  • Confusing “it’s” and “its”, “your” and “you’re”, etc.
  • The use of singular articles before plural nouns
  • Failure to agree verbs and nouns
  • Failure to use the right tense
  • Split infinitives
  • Misuse of me and I
  • Too many contractions
  • Incorrect application of semicolons
  • Ending a sentence with a preposition
  • Poor use of the word “get” or “got”
  • Too many exclamation points

Writing an essay bluntly

Your college application essay should be written with the use of familiar tone and casual voice. Try to write more like you talk applying everyday language instead of using a more formal tone inherent to academic essays. However, do not use too many contractions.

Describe your personal experiences to demonstrate what you want to show about yourself to your target colleges and then give explanations what you learned in the process. You can be candid and direct about your stories and how you felt during them.

Avoid trying to sound too smart. Stick to the truth, be sincere, and share your thoughts. Once you’re done, go back and edit your essay to make sure it is perfect in the flow and tone.

Make comparisons to personalize your essay. Also use similes and metaphors to make connections to your personal life. When coming up with referencing similes and metaphors do not worry about the word count. It is much easier to take the unnecessary redundancies and cliché phrases out rather than improvise in them.

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