Don’t scribble something on your typed essay in pen.

We’re surprised at how often some students go to the trouble of laser-printing their essays on high-grade paper and mind every last detail so that the essay’s appearance is near-perfect — but then, at the last minute, ruin it all by scrawling something in pen at the top of the page (usually their name, address, email or something similar). We suspect that, after spending so much time writing and perfecting their essay, these students are exhausted and simply want to “be done with it.”

That’s understandable, but it’s better to think about it this way: You didn’t spend all that time putting your Best Foot Forward just to run out of steam at the last minute and get lazy. You’ve come this far – just spend five more minutes and type in the information you forgot, and then reprint it.

Does it really matter to judges that your address is written in pen at the top? Well, it’s one of those very small psychological things that are almost unconscious, but yes, I believe it does. It’s not so much that it makes your essay look bad; rather, it simply makes the other applicants (those who turned in essays without pen scrawl) look better, and believe me, you don’t want that. The competition is already tough enough — the last thing you need to be doing is helping them out.

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