Seven Deadly Sins of Essay Writing

Okay, maybe the words, “deadly sins,” are a bit of an exaggeration; however, it is not uncommon for prospective students to make some mistakes when writing essays.  The following is a list of blunders (countdown style) to avoid when writing an essay for the Fisher SMF program.


This prospective student is praying that she does not commit an "essay sin."

7.   Do NOT use different fonts.  This may sound really simple, but several essays in the last recruiting season have had multiple fonts used, even within the same paragraph.  As with any important document you would create (e.g. – your resume), you want to maintain a consistent, polished, and professional look.

6.   Do NOT write the name of a different school/program in your essay.  Yes, prospective students do this all the time.  If you decide to “recycle” your essays (which will be addressed later), please make sure that you check and remove all mentions of another school or even different program within the same school.

5.  Do NOT write an essay on what you think the admissions committee wants to hear.  This may seem counter intuitive, but this is a huge faux pas students make.  The purpose of a personal statement is for the school to get to know YOU and see if YOU would be a good fit for the school.   If you choose to write about something you think the admissions committee will like, but it’s not really personalized, you are doing yourself and the school a big disservice.  Also, other students who have the same idea may write a similar essay to your own.   How will you stand out against the others who write the same thing?

4.  Do NOT go off the topic asked.  Always respond to the question being addressed.  Many students like to write pages and pages about things that are irrelevant to the question, just because they like to hear themselves talk; or rather in this case, they like to see themselves write.

3.  Do NOT write the same essay for each school.  Similar to Item #6, you really do not want to copy and paste the essay you wrote for one school to another program.  Fisher avoids this problem by asking questions that are different than what most other schools are requiring.  It is easy for us to detect those who reuse their essays because they (like Item #4), go off topic and do not answer what is being asked.

2.  Do NOT submit your first draft.  Not only should you have to take time to proofread and edit your essays, but sometimes it takes a couple of tries to get your message(s) completely right.  Our suggestion to you would be to write a draft and go back to it after a few days (or weeks).  You may think of something brilliant which you did not do so prior.  Remember, once you submit your application, that’s it.  Take time to make sure you are presenting the whole picture.

1.  Do NOT plagiarize!  This is THE most important thing to avoid.  It is illegal, and if caught (which you likely will), you could face severe consequences.  No words or ideas are worth the risk to plagiarize.  Besides, who can write an essay about you better than you, yourself?

Well, I hope this helps you during your application process!  We cannot stress how important essays are to the admissions process as it’s not just about the numbers (GMAT, GPA, etc).   Good luck and apply today!

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