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words matter

You're starting to turn the application corner, and soon enough, you'll be submitting your first batch of applications, clicking your heels, and saying, "there's no place like done." While you are most likely still revising, drafting new essays, and figuring out how to "ditch the fluff," try some of these tips to level up your writing.

  • “To be” verbs can often be replaced by a more interesting verb that adds clarity. Check to see if you have any of these “to-be” verbs and try to replace and improve upon them: am, are, is, was, were, be, being, or been.

  • Consider starting or rewriting a sentence with a verb to be strong, bold, and convincing.

  • Avoid over-used phrases. Don't let a cliche stand in for writing what you truly mean.

  • Can you cut words like "this, that, and there" to tighten up your sentences?

  • Write it simply. Avoid the $10 words like "plethora" and "myriad."

  • Say "Goodbye" to qualifiers and adverbs: “Go a week without * very * rather * really * quite * so *, of course, *, in fact, *” Benjamin Dreyer, author of Dreyer's English.

Your essays are most likely becoming old friends as you mold, fine-tune, and start to add (or delete) just the right words that invite your reader into your world and hold their attention long enough to see you, but let’s say something that should not be overlooked. Typos happen. The important part is to catch them and correct them. Why do they happen? Sometimes reading the same essay or document multiple times dulls our ability to catch a typo, misspelling, or grammatical error. What can you do to combat typos, misspellings, and grammatical mistakes? Read your essay out loud. Proof from the bottom up - sounds wonky, but it works. Consider using a tool or resource besides "spell check" to help you catch those pesky mistakes like Purdue Owl Writing Lab.

Here are a few more tips to help you prepare to submit essays and applications.

Tip #1 Proof your essays and applications. Print a hard copy (if you have access to a printer) to catch those tiny edits (grammar, spelling, typos) that still may be needed after weeks of revising.

Tip #2 Make friends with reminder notifications and pop a few into your calendar.

Tip #3 Submit early to avoid any unforeseen circumstances: getting sick, Wi-Fi out, hurricanes, fire, or crashed website that might delay you from your first deadline, e.g., mid-October or November 1st.

The good news is you are in charge of your time, but that requires taking a good look at your calendar (upcoming school assignments and tests, athletics - matches, games, etc.) to understand your schedule for the next few weeks and to ensure you have enough time to write, revise, and complete your applications in a way that works with your schedule.

Have questions or looking for more support? Email me at

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