Pronoun Beware

Pronouns serve as replacements for other words and often refer back to information mentioned earlier in a text. However, when composing autobiographical college essays, teenagers who often use pronouns can unintentionally hinder their goal: conveying their experiences clearly to admissions officers. 

Using pronouns, teenagers assume:

  • The reader is closely following the narrative, despite possibly reviewing hundreds of essays consecutively over days, weeks, or even months.
  • The reader will automatically connect pronouns like “they,” “those,” or “them” back to the specific information references intended by the writer.

Yet, admissions officers are human and, like anyone, their attention can waver, leading to potential misinterpretation or missing the writer’s meaning—resulting in a less comprehensive evaluation of the applicant. 

Therefore, applicants would be prudent to seek an objective review of their essay drafts to ensure the intended meaning is clear. If needed, teenagers can revise their essays, opting for more precise language instead of pronouns, to minimize the chance of being misunderstood.

Creative Marbles was founded by teachers who appreciate helping students (re)discover their aptitude, first in the academic classroom, now as part of the complex college admissions process. For more information, please contact us

Tagged , , , , , ,

About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
View all posts by Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy →