There is an article in the NYT about essays which show exactly what you DO NOT WANT TO DO with your college essays.
There are 5 essays:
The 1st essay tried too hard to be creative and use impressive SAT words. I'm left wondering who is this young man and what does he offer a college?
2nd essay--It's a young woman whose farmer father wanted a boy she thought. Same problem--who is she?
3rd essay--it's all about his dad--who isn't the college applicant.
4th essay--She does tax prep--interesting premise but could be stronger. She tells us a lot about her clients, instead of telling us who she is and why she has chosen to do this work
5th essay--it's all about her grandmother--who is not the college applicant.
When you write your college essays you want to use a conversational tone as though you are talking with a friend. You do not use big $50 dollar words to get your points across. You use normal speak. This is a common problem.
Colleges are not interested in how impressive, unusual, dedicated, driven or compassionate your dad, mom or grandmother are. They want to know your qualities and how and why they show up in your life in your descriptions. You might drive home the point by bringing up these family members but not dedicate the essay to them.
Please remember--you must make a case for why a college should be interested in you--you do not do this by pointing out the assets, winning qualities, or character traits of family members. You focus on who you are and why a college should be interested in you. FOCUS ON WHO YOU ARE!