The standard high school and college essay: Myths your teacher may tell you about writing

Whether you're in middle school, high school, or college, it is almost certain that you will have writing assignments wherein you're required to take a position on a topic, and argue your position by providing a thesis and supporting points.   For example, a typical subject might be "The death penalty should be abolished," or "High schools should institute a pass/fail grading policy rather than providing a letter grade." Additionally, "Personal Statement" essays that colleges require students to write as part of their application process have similar requirements. Your task is to present a well-developed essay about why the college should consider you as a prime candidate for admission.
Regardless of the topic, though, one thing is certain: a well-written essay will most likely receive a higher grade than a poorly-written one.  But there's another thing about writing these essays that, perhaps is not CERTAIN, but VERY LIKELY.  And that is your English teacher or counselor may give you instructions about writing that are misleading or in some cases counterproductive, and are actually myths about writing (please don't get indignant until you here me out ; < )
Myth #1: Be sure to use lots of connecting words or expressions, like however, nevertheless, in addition, furthermore, moreover, and so on.  Actually, using these connectors too much can make your essay sound "scripted" or written according to a template.  At times, they are just unnecessary.  Here is an example:
I volunteered at a senior center for two summers.  In addition, I participated in our schools volunteer recycling program during my sophomore and junior years.  However, during my sophomore year, I worked with the recycling program from October to January only.
I volunteered at a senior center for two summers and participated in my high school's recycling program during half my sophomore year and for my entire junior year.
OK!  I know the first example was a bit overdone, but you get the picture. 
I'll write about Myth #2 next time.


I agree, being concise and precise is best, unless (see what I did there) you are writing poetry or a novel.


Alan G.

PhD. All levels writing, reading AP English SAT/ACT/GRE thesis editing

1500+ hours
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