‘Twas the night before deadlines, and all through the world,
Our consultants sat cramming, coffee brewing, brows furrowed;
Though the essays were written with effort and care,
There were still a few things that were cause for despair!
The clichés! Oh, forsake! Terrible, were they –
That all our consultants could think was “oy vey!”
The bloopers! The follies! The overused phrases –
Oh, what would the adcom say? Imagine the look on their faces!
So we cleaned and we scrubbed and we checked all the words;
We made sure that nothing sounded clichéd or absurd.
Then swift as a mouse looking for plum pie crumbs,
We sent those essays back with the click of our thumbs.
And oh, the good cheer, and ah, the delight,
To see a perfect essay with no clichés in sight!
Then with boundless cheer and some joy and some tears;
The applicants submitted their unique, shining essays!
Phew – they were in the clear!
Moral of the story: phrases and idioms come and go in waves. While it’s okay to use some popular phrasing, you want to make sure that your essay is original and not chock-full of clichés.
Take your clichés to the next level
The first time someone used “take it to the next level” in their essay, the reader probably stopped and thought – wow, that’s a great way to put it. They probably thought the same thing the second and third and even tenth time they heard it. But the hundredth time? The thousandth? It’s just not as impressive. In fact, after original phrases get used to death, they become boring, even silly, and lose their meaning.
We recently polled Accepted’s consultants and asked: “What are the most abused and misused clichés used by applicants?” When we dug out from under the flood of responses, we found the following to be the ultimate winners/losers:
- Take it to the next level
- Lend a helping hand
- Been there for me
- Want to give back
- Any phrase with “honored” in it, like, “I was honored to…”
- I was blessed with the opportunity to…
- Outside my comfort zone
- Making a difference
- Thinking outside the box
- Touch base
- Circle back
- Hit the ground running
- Rolling up my sleeves
- Finding my path / journey
- Made me the man/woman I am today
- (School and program) attracts me because it provides a strong foundation in….
- The experiential component will allow me to work on real-world problems.
When writing your essays, try to move outside your comfort zone and take your writing to the next level. You want to really make a difference and get on board with this global thinking and diverse wordification.
Yeah, we thought that would help make our point.
Does your application essay need a good, solid edit?
Take advantage of Accepted’s expert admissions consulting and editing services, whether you’re just getting started with your essays or are ready for that final cliché-abolishing polish. Our advisors are ready to help you create the most impressive essays possible!For 25 years, Accepted has helped applicants gain acceptance to top undergraduate and graduate programs. Our expert team of admissions consultants features former admissions directors, PhDs, and professional writers who have advised clients to acceptance at top programs worldwide including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Columbia, Oxford, Cambridge, INSEAD, MIT, Caltech, UC Berkeley, and Northwestern. Want an admissions expert to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
- From Example to Exemplary, a free guide to writing outstanding essays
- How to Stay Within Essay Word Limits by Reducing Verbal Verbosity
- Review Your Essays Like an Admissions Consultant: Use the Editing Funnel