How not to write a decent college application essay

1. Be a smug little prick

It’s not up to the college to accept you, it’s up to you to accept the college. College applications are a matter of whether school X even deserves to have you. Flaunt every one of your accomplishments, regardless of relevance. If you’re talking about that one time you scored the game-winning goal, it’s good to slip in a little “oh, and I am a nationally recognized tuba player too, by the way.” Go all out and make sure it’s clear that you’re going all out. Randomly insert awards you’ve won with parentheses throughout your essay. For example:

It was up to me now. (I have contributed over 9,000 hours of volunteer service to the local animal shelter.) There was only one thing between me and victory: the goalie. I kicked the ball, hoping for the best. (I am an award-winning tuba player and got a gold medal for perfect attendance from my school principal.) The goalie dived, missing. The ball plunged into the back of the net. Not only had I won the game for my team, I had won at life.

2. Procrastinate

Leaving essays until the last minute forces all of your creative juices out at once, making for exceptional writing. The closer you get to the deadline without starting, the better your essays will be. If you start too early on the other hand, you might be inclined to get your essays reviewed by peers and mentors. This causes your essays to lose the hurried originality that only comes through procrastination.

3. Use the same adjectives repetitively

If you’re a really cool person, emphasize it in your essay! To keep things fresh and flowing, be sure to vary how you say how cool you are. Here’s an example:

Ever since I’ve been old enough to be cool, I’ve been pretty chill. My subzero awesomeness has been a quality that’s pervaded every aspect of my frosty life. In both my academic and extracurricular pursuits, coolness has been a common theme. My teachers and coaches have commented on how frigid my cool behavior is and how cool my contributions to the class are. As I look forward to higher education, I aim to stay as frigid as I’ve always been, that is, how cool I’ve always been. Polar. Icy. Glacial.

4. Refuse to use ‘spell check’

By neglecting spelling errors, you show colleges that you’re not afraid to take risks—a valuable trait to have. While many will emphasize the importance of good spelling and how bad spelling can detract from your essay, ignoring this advice is the first step to showing your courageousness. Colleges are looking for someone with a bold spin on life. By botching words until they’re unintelligible, you’re convincing colleges that you’re willing to take command of not only the English language, but of your future. If red squiggly lines on Microsoft Word bother you, you are not ready for college.

5. Disregard grammar

Grammar is just as unimportant as spelling. By using run-on sentences, mismatched verb tenses, and subjectless sentences, you’re telling colleges that you’re willing to experiment and try out new things. In a world where so much depends on effective communication, you can stand out by being absolutely horrible at it. That said, using poor grammar is the first step to distinguish yourself from the rest of the applicants.

Happy writing!


  1. JPD · December 30, 2011


    However, being a smug little prick got me into a certain university in the Bay Area…

    • Ishmam · December 30, 2011

      Heh, congratulations. If you used “randomly inserted awards you’ve won with parentheses throughout your essay,” I commend you even more.

  2. Shannon K · December 30, 2011

    Chill. Subzero. Glacier. lmao im dying ish

    • Ishmam · December 30, 2011

      Mission accomplished.

  3. Lili · December 30, 2011

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. xD

  4. Rachel · December 30, 2011

    Sorry, this has nothing to do with the essay, but I got one two many teacher recommendations. Am I supposed to pull one out when “appending” to the application?

    • Rachel · December 30, 2011

      Classic typo. I meant “too.”

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