What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Loading…
UCLA
Loading…
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
1.0
4.0
SAT: 720 math
200
800
| 800 verbal
200
800

Extracurriculars

Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Are parentheses considered informal for college essays?

So, I've got this habit of using parentheses (a lot) to add side thoughts in my writing. I'm working on my college essay draft and I’m not sure if it’s too casual or if it detracts from the flow of the essay. Does anyone know if using parentheses is frowned upon by admission officers? Should I try to rephrase things instead?

8 months ago

It's important to strike the right tone in your college essays, and parentheses indeed run the risk of coming across as too casual or conversational for this context. Admission officers look for clarity, depth, and a reflection of your ability to communicate effectively in your writing. Parentheses often introduce asides that can disrupt the flow of your essay or seem out of place in formal writing, which is what college essays essentially are. Rather than relying on parentheses, try rephrasing your sentences to include that additional information in a way that contributes to the coherence and strength of your main argument. For instance, instead of writing, 'I have always been passionate about music (I’ve played the piano since I was five),' you might say, 'My passion for music, kindled from the age of five when I first sat before a piano, has grown through the years.' This approach provides the same information but maintains a formal structure that's more fitting for an admissions essay. Reserve the use of parentheses for when they're truly necessary, like providing an acronym after spelling out an organization's full name the first time you mention it. In most other cases, integrating the information directly into your sentences is the best course of action.

8 months ago

About CollegeVine’s Expert FAQ

CollegeVine’s Q&A seeks to offer informed perspectives on commonly asked admissions questions. Every answer is refined and validated by our team of admissions experts to ensure it resonates with trusted knowledge in the field.