Can College Essays Be Informal

The right tone can set you on the path to success, especially regarding your application. Let’s find out if college essays can be informal.

It is a path you must tread carefully, as there is a fine line between being informal and being inconsiderate. Though this is not a formal essay, you have to find the correct tone for your college essays.

College essays can be informal; in fact, they should be. These essays are meant to show your personality and essence through the page. Advising officers seek to get to know you as a person, not as a transcript.

But on the other hand, they are not your best friends that you are texting, so you can’t be too informal either.

Can slang be used in college essays?

college essays can be informal

In short, “Nah.” It would be best if you strayed away from words that different kinds of people might not understand. Slang is a language that is only used for a certain group, and you should use everyday language to avoid excluding the admission officers.

Your style and personality have to show through your writing in an acceptable manner. To do that, you are allowed to use informal language but not words you would use with your friends.

How to find the right tone

We have covered that college essays can be informal but not inappropriate. To find the right tone, you can ask yourself, “Who would I say that to?” 

For instance, a jock or athlete shouldn’t say, “I feel eccentric to be captain and fortunate to play in this year’s varsity athletic team.” Instead, they can say, “The court is where I can find myself most days, and the crowd’s excitement keeps me on my toes.”

Using phrases like “Keeps me on my toes” is not slang and count as common phrases, but they still add a dab of personality to your college essay.

Tone is so crucial, but it isn’t everything. In fact, there are 5 flaws found in most college application essays; learn more about them in the article.

Furthermore, you can ask your teachers to read them over as they might be aware of your academic life and your personality. Do not write as if it was a text to your best friend!


Stay in between talking to an authority figure such as a high school principal and your closest friends. That is the sweet spot you should aim for. Below you can find an example of how to get the perfect sentence:

“I find history to be a rather challenging subject, which steers away from my academic writing strength.” This example is too formal, you might say this in a proper setting, but this does not correlate with a college essay.

“History is a waste of time. I can’t get it through my mind and I rather be writing for English class instead. I just think it doesn’t help me at all.” On the other end of the spectrum, this is what you might say to a close friend. Though college essays can be informal, this is not what you should write.

And in between it all, you can find the perfect middle ground that goes something like this: “Since I remember me and History have a love-hate relationship. I find it challenging to memorize dates from historical events, yet when I read Shakespeare, I can’t help but memorize the lines. Thus, I can confidently say that English is my element.”

Final Thoughts

College essays can be informal but not too relaxed. Pay close attention to how you word what you want to say. Focusing on your writing, tone, and, most importantly, how it reflects you as a candidate is essential.

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