Application Tips: The Do’s and Don’ts of Essay Writing


It’s the end of Fall here in New York. Winter is coming and with it our Fall application deadline approaches! As we’re getting ready to hole up and read applications, I wanted to share some tips about one of the pet peeves of our office.

Every year we come across essays that are just one big block paragraph. There is no intro, no conclusion…just a lot of information. Usually a block paragraph is a sign to us that the applicant was in a rush. They didn’t have time to edit and were just getting thoughts and ideas out it flurry. Below are some tips and resources for writing a college essay and to prevent the big block paragraph.

(photo credit:
  1. Proofread. I will admit that when I was in high school I very rarely proofread. I was usually writing my essays last minute and just wanted to be done with them. I would finish them, give them a once over, and then promptly printed it out for the next morning. Learn from my mistakes and never ever do this with your college essay. Take a break from writing, talk a walk, eat a snack, and then give it an edit. Read the essay backwards from top the bottom. Reading sentences out of order is helpful when catching silly mistakes like adding an extra “the” or the wrong “there, their, they’re”.
  2. Proofread some more. Have a friend, teacher, or family member edit your essay for you. An outside perspective is always important especially if the subject matter is really close to you. Maybe you thought you explained something clearly but didn’t. Maybe you’re repeating the same word but don’t realize it. An outsider’s view will always help.
  3. We all love a #TBT but…For our artist statement we want to know about you who are presently. What inspires you now, what contemporary artists are you interested in, what about art, life, and/or the world gets you fired up and makes you want to create. We don’t want to hear about the first time you picked up a crayon, the art award you won in the second grade, or the clothes you designed for your Barbie doll. An essay should never begin “When I was ____ years old….” Who are you now? Why do you think you’re a good fit for our program?
  4. Txt l8ter. An essay should not be written like a conversation with your friend. Capitalize your “i”s, format your sentences, and be sure to reach the world maximum.


I think USA Today is super helpful for college application tips. Check out their article from last year.

About larkmorgenstern

Heyyyy there! I'm Lark and an Admission Counselor for Parsons. I'm a Strategic Design & Management alum and a recent graduate of the History of Design & Curatorial Studies Masters Program. When I'm not doing admission related things you'll find me poking around my succulent garden or nerding out over Scandinavian Design.

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