Is it good to use simple words in a personal essay?

Can a college essay be written too simply, or are overcomplicated essays more of a frustration for professors? Finding a good balance between too plain and too complex isn't as easy for some as for others. Ironically, it's often those who write naturally simple that try to overcomplicate their paper by overdoing it.

Pretentiousness is SO not you, darling

Going overboard in your wording is just as bad as writing as if you were back in grade school. Many students make the mistake of trying out big words that they wouldn't normally use and end up just looking silly. If you're not pretentious in real life, don't get too fancy in your writing either.

Don't never use slang, ya dig?

All this being said, it important to remember that this is an English essay, and it should remain that way. Words like gonna, wanna and gotta have no place in an academic essay unless they are expressing dialogue of someone speaking like that. Your essay should reflect you, but keep the language proper. You'll lose huge points if you don't use decent English.

You're in big school now

Because you shouldn't use words in your writing you wouldn't normally use when speaking, your personal essay will reflect you quite well. It should, therefore, carry your signature, but at the same time live up to your educational standard. You're a college student; so be 'academically professional'. Writing as if you're still a child will render your professor doubtful about your capabilities. Using words is ok, but repeating them too often is juvenile.

Recap: That thin line

So in order to get the right balance with your writing, how should you proceed? Well, keep in mind these following questions while you write:

  1. To avoid going over the top
    • Would I speak this way? Would I phrase sentences like this?
    • Do I use these words in sentences everyday?
    • If I read this word in a book, would I know what it meant?
  2. To avoid sub-standard writing
    • Is my content void of slang?
    • Have I ensured minimum 'simple' word repetition?
    • Do my sentences start with different words though out?

Professors have read countless essays and will be able to pick up if you have tried to be something that you're not. Personal essays should reflect the person writing them. Going over this mark, or under it, is to fail at writing this type of essay.

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