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Avoid These Essay Killers: Insights from a Yale Admissions Reader

Published on February 12, 2024


Avoid These Essay Killers: Insights from a Yale Admissions Reader

Embarking on your college application journey or just want to improve your writing skills?

Got the perfect piece for you. Keeping scrolling!

Your essay is your spotlight moment – a chance to share your story, your spark. 

But, ever wondered what really makes your essay stand out in the sea of applications? 

It's all about nailing that first impression with a killer hook and sealing the deal with an unforgettable conclusion.

Why Hooks and Conclusions are Your Best Friends?

Picture your college essay as a captivating novel.

The hook is like that first sentence that makes you go, "Wow, I need to read more!"

It's your golden ticket to grabbing the
admissions officer's attention.

On the flip side, a strong
conclusion is like a mic drop. It ties up
your story with a bow and
leaves a lasting impression,
making them think, "We
need this student!"

Hook Mastery 101

Embrace the Drama: Starting with a conflict is like dropping your reader right into the action. Think of it as choosing your adventure:

  • You vs. You: Share a moment of personal challenge or change. It’s like saying, “Hey, check out how I grew from this.”

  • You vs. Someone Else: Got a story about clashing or coming together with someone? It’s a great way to show you’re all about understanding and teamwork.

  • You vs. The World: Overcame a big obstacle? Your story of tackling something bigger than yourself screams leadership and resilience.

Mystery is Your Friend: Kick off with a question or something that makes the reader go, "Hmm, what's this about?" It's a clever way to lure them into your world, promising them a journey of discovery.

Let's explore how to effectively incorporate conflict and mystery into your essay.

Engage Through Conflict:

Conflict isn't just about drama; it's a window into your growth, resilience, and ability to tackle life's hurdles.

When choosing a conflict for your essay, think about moments that genuinely shaped you. These stories can range from personal revelations to overcoming obstacles, each providing insight into your character and adaptability.

Intrigue with Mystery:

Kicking off your essay with a question or an intriguing statement pulls the reader into your world.

This method sets a curious tone, prompting the reader to dive deeper into your story. It's an invitation to a journey, one that promises revelation and insight.

Crafting a Conclusion That Sticks

  • Answer “So What?”: Don’t just wrap up; dig deeper. What’s the bigger picture of your story? It’s your moment to reflect on how this experience has sculpted you and prepared you for the future.

  • Your Campus Contribution: How will you sprinkle your magic on campus? Paint a picture of how you’ll make college life even more vibrant with your talents, ideas, or energy

Your conclusion isn't just the end of your essay; it's your chance to tie everything together and project into the future. Please do not just summarise your essay. No quicker way to ensure the death of your essay.

Extra Nuggets for an Essay That Pops

  • Be Unapologetically You: Originality and genuine reflections are your secret sauce. Share those unique moments and thoughts that scream “you.”

  • Dive Deep: Think about experiences that truly shaped you. These are the stories that add depth and color to your essay, making it not just another application, but a window into your world.

Final Thoughts

Writing an outstanding college essay is about more than telling a story; it’s about showcasing your journey, growth, and the unique qualities you’ll bring to college. By weaving in elements of conflict and mystery, and ending with a powerful reflection on your growth and potential contributions, you create not just an essay but a narrative that highlights your preparedness and eagerness for the future.

Remember, the essence of your essay lies in sharing your unique story in a way that connects with your readers. 
It’s about demonstrating your excitement and capability for the academic and personal adventures that await in college. Through thoughtful storytelling, strategic structure, and genuine reflection, your essay will stand out in the competitive admissions process, shining a light on your potential to contribute, grow, and excel in a collegiate setting.

Stay tuned for more insights and strategies to navigate your college application journey with confidence and creativity. Your story is worth telling, and with the right approach, it will resonate with admissions officers, paving the way for your future success.


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