Trying too hard to appear intellectual.
a) I can curse in twenty languages: A thesaurus is not necessarily your friend. Using words like, “plethora” or “myriad” only serve to drive an admissions officer to early retirement. Your teen need not swallow a thesaurus to “sound” intelligent.
b) That Pythagoras was no square: Your teen doesn’t need to discuss her love of Shakespeare or Milton if she thinks this slight fib sounds better than discussing the merits of the Twilight series. On the other hand, if she’s reading Fifty Shades of Grey you have bigger issues to worry about than what college she gets into.
c) Eszopiclone, Ramelteon, Triazolam, Zaleplon, Zolpidem: There are enough sleeping pills on the market so the admissions officer doesn’t need an essay to put him to sleep. I am not suggesting that the essay rival that of a SNL monologue but it can’t be boring either. Your teen can write about something as dry as my mother-in-law’s Thanksgiving turkey but it needs to sound interesting in story, sub-text, personality, connotation, sentence length, syntax, and unique in perspective.
Randy Levin has a MA in English and a MFA in Creative Writing. He is a published writer and was a high school English teacher in high achieving north shore Long Island school districts for close to ten years. He works with students on their college application essays through his company: Persuasive Writing Services. The vast majority of his clients are accepted to the Ivy League or other prestigious colleges.