Personal Statement Tip: Scale Back on Clichés

An essay can turn instantly sour when you stop saying what you mean and start using generic, meaningless clichés.

The best way to eliminate clichés in your writing is simply to go through and cut out any phrases that have lost their meaning or significance due to overuse.

Here are some common clichés. Once you read through them, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

  • Take it to the next level
  • The bottom line
  • Been there for me
  • The tip of the iceberg
  • Think outside the box
  • All that jazz
  • Ax to grind
  • Hands on
  • Synergy
  • Paradigm shift
  • At the end of the day
  • Going forward
  • Push the envelope
  • Hit the ground running
  • 800-pound gorilla
  • It is what it is
  • Going from good to great
  • Now more than ever
  • Raise the bar
  • Game changing
  • Good to go
  • My 2 cents
  • Sooner rather than later
  • Cutting edge, bleeding edge, and almost anything edgy.

When these phrases were uttered for first time, listeners probably thought, "Hey, that's unique! This guy's witty and original." Maybe even when they were uttered a second, third, or hundredth time. But people, we're in the millions by now! You want to sound witty and original? Say something that hasn’t been said. Or else you will be left to push the envelope. Shift your paradigm. And get your point across by relying on overused crutches—they won't get from good to great. Just my $0.02.

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