5 Greatest Myths About Writing College Essays

There is a huge misconception that writing essays is a painstaking labor of love that must be creative, witty, and filled with tons of long, complex sentences, language, and style. This could not be further from the truth. Rather, your essay needs to demonstrate that you can overcome the challenges you will face at university and beyond. Your writing needs to be clear, concise, and your own, not someone else’s, and admissions officers will notice when something is not right. And yet, untrue ideas about writing college essays still exist. What other myths about writing these essays exist? Below are the top five myths that students make while writing these essays. 

Myth 1: Your topic needs to be about something sophisticated or impressive.

The essay you write needs to showcase you, not the events that you participated in. You are an impressive bit. The university or college wants to know what makes you stand out and how you are going to overcome the challenges of attending university. In short, they want to know what you learned, not what you have done. They want to know what your experiences mean to you. This is an important difference. They are trying to discern if you can be successful in your academic pursuits. Show them how you will be successful using your personal experiences rather than regal them with a story.

Myth 2: Students Always answer the questions completely.

Believe it or not, when writing an admissions essay, a lot of students forget to answer all of what is being asked. A student can spend so much time trying to make the essay impressive that they miss out on vital information. Forgetting to answer part or some of the questions is a costly mistake. Colleges will not ask questions if they are irrelevant. It is in your best interest to make sure that all the questions asked are answered clearly. The best way to make sure this happens is to outline your essay, making sure you have two or three good sentences that clearly answer each question that is asked.

Myth 3: No one reads your admissions essay.

This is just false. If a college is not going to ask questions in your essay, they do not want answers to, then why are they going to make you write a whole essay when they are not going to bother reading it? They will most assuredly read it. It is part of the admissions officer’s job at the university in question.

Myth 4: Your writing needs to be complex and formal.

If you were writing an academic paper for a class at the university, this might be the case. However, writing your admissions essay for going to university is a different matter. It does not need to read like a Dickens or Hemingway novel, full of complex sentences and complicated metaphors. It is okay to use a few contractions here and there. It’s okay to leave the metaphors out. The admissions officer is looking for a concise, well-written high school student piece that answers the prompt fully. They read hundreds of essays. Cut them some slack and make your essay one that is clear, concise, and fun to read.

Myth 5: Admissions officers will not know if you had help or plagiarised your essay.

This is again false. An admissions officer can tell if people have helped you write your essay. This is not to say you cannot ask for feedback on what you have written, just that you should be wary of meaningful adults taking over the writing process or relying too much on their writing voice and not your own. Admissions officers can tell when you have plagiarised. It’s not okay to steal someone else’s work to use as your own, and it will get you denied entry to the university. You are better off writing your own essay. 

No essay will get an unqualified student into university, but a well-written essay will give a qualified student a chance at being selected to attend their first choice. It’s all about avoiding these five myths and putting in an effort.


Michael Dehoyos is a writer and editor at Academic Brits. He enthusiastically helps a wide variety of companies with their marketing strategy concepts. He supports equal growth opportunities as well as up and coming entrepreneurs with their marketing outreach. An avid writer, Michael also contributes to a variety of publications.

Share this post:

More to explore