For almost fourteen years, I’ve been reviewing parents’ and students’ private school admissions essays.  At this point, that’s thousands of admissions statements.  But whenever I feel sorry for myself, I have to think about those poor private school admissions officers.  Sure, maybe they ask for it by assigning the questions, but believe me, they get theirs.

For your edification, here are the three most common mistakes I see again and again on private school essays:

  1. Showing off.  Clearly, you don’t want to be too modest.  But on the flip side, when you make grandiose statements about your child’s accomplishments (“Bella knows more about fossils than do many paleontologists”) , it can turn the reader off.  Be careful.  You’re walking a fine line.
  2. Showing rather than telling.  Surely, you’ve heard this well-known rule for good writing.  It certainly applies to private school essays.  You need to have examples to back up your points.  For example, I had a client this year who wrote that her child is bright, athletic, and good at math.  Do you believe her?  She needs supporting evidence.
  3. Writing too much.  You know your child is fascinating.  You might want to read three pages about her.  Unfortunately, your reader has competing interests.  You want to use space efficiently and clearly get across your key selling points.

As one of the longest practicing private school admissions consultants in NYC, I have considerable perspective about what makes parents and children unique in a way that attracts admissions directors.  I am currently accepting Private School Admissions Support clients who will be applying in 2012 for 2013 admission. To learn more or call 212-712-2228 9am-9pm EST.  Please book early because prime slots in late spring go quickly and every year I have to turn parents away.

For more:

How to Write a Private School Admissions Essay (for Kindergarten, but the Principle Holds True for Older Grades as Well):