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Avoiding the McEssay Syndrome
college-essay essay

College Admissions Officers read hundreds, if not thousands, of essays in a day during the application season for their college. It is natural that college essays often have similar or repetitive themes.  The “football essay”, or the “I just want to help people” essay, although very true and sincere, can become boring after the xxx one you have read. What can you do to avoid this “McEssay” syndrome?

We have five tips to avoid the McEssay Syndrome.


  1. Avoid using cliches.  Cliches are trite phrases or sentences that are so overused, they lose their meaning. Examples of cliches: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game.”, “I learned to be a team player.”, “ I just want to help people”, “I have a dream”.

  2. Use humor carefully. Writing well with humor takes years of practice. Don’t make your college essay your first essay intended to make someone laugh.

  3. Don’t repeat yourself.  It is more important to have depth and substance to your writing, than length. Admissions officers don’t have time to read long, wordy, winding essays.  Keep one thought to one sentence. Be straightforward in your language. Don’t repeat the same theme over and over in different ways. College admissions officers see right through that. Be clear. Be precise. Be succinct.

  4. Don’t try to impress.  If you write what you think the admissions officers want to hear, you have already started on the wrong path.  Write about what you know, in a way that preserves your writing style.

  5. Write using natural language.  Complex sentences, with multiple adjectives and SAT words thrown in is not effective at communicating your message clearly.  Keep your language straightforward, easy to relate to. The college admissions officer reading your essay will thank you.

Follow these tips and you can avoid the McEssay syndrome.  Your college essay can convey your story to the college admissions officer is a way that inspires rather than bores them.


College Admissions Officers read hundreds, if not thousands, of essays in a day during the application season for their college. It is natural that college essays often have similar or repetitive themes.  The “football essay”, or the “I just want to help people” essay, although very true and sincere, can become boring after the xxx one you have read. What can you do to avoid this “McEssay” syndrome?

We have five tips to avoid the McEssay Syndrome.


  1. Avoid using cliches.  Cliches are trite phrases or sentences that are so overused, they lose their meaning. Examples of cliches: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game.”, “I learned to be a team player.”, “ I just want to help people”, “I have a dream”.

  2. Use humor carefully. Writing well with humor takes years of practice. Don’t make your college essay your first essay intended to make someone laugh.

  3. Don’t repeat yourself.  It is more important to have depth and substance to your writing, than length. Admissions officers don’t have time to read long, wordy, winding essays.  Keep one thought to one sentence. Be straightforward in your language. Don’t repeat the same theme over and over in different ways. College admissions officers see right through that. Be clear. Be precise. Be succinct.

  4. Don’t try to impress.  If you write what you think the admissions officers want to hear, you have already started on the wrong path.  Write about what you know, in a way that preserves your writing style.

  5. Write using natural language.  Complex sentences, with multiple adjectives and SAT words thrown in is not effective at communicating your message clearly.  Keep your language straightforward, easy to relate to. The college admissions officer reading your essay will thank you.

Follow these tips and you can avoid the McEssay syndrome.  Your college essay can convey your story to the college admissions officer is a way that inspires rather than bores them.


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