When something or someone is too polished, it's hard to trust them.
When I hear a politician on the news evade the real question and give a polished, rehearsed answer, it doesn't encourage me to change my vote.
I'm much more likely to buy a product that has open reviews online from customers, both positive and negative, than I am to buy one that has a glowing testimonial from one hand-picked fan.
When I interview someone for a job at Collegewise, I like it when they give real answers, when they're confident enough to tell the truth even if they make a little fun of themselves. When our former college softball pitcher who struck out all the batters admitted that she also went 0-16 at the plate during her freshman year (way to own it, Katie!), I knew I wanted her to work here.
Colleges are the same way when they evaluate applicants.
When you apply to college, it's much more important to be genuine than it is to be polished. Be proud of your accomplishments, sure. But more importantly, just be proud of who you are. Make your application and essay sound like you. Admit what you like along with what you aren't good at. Let your personality come out. Your application is not a marketing piece–it's a reflection of you. It needs to have some soul.
That's why we don't over-edit essays–they sound like the 17 year-old who wrote them. It's why we'll encourage a student to be honest rather than to try to guess what colleges want to hear. We want students to be who they really are, not some manufactured-to-perfection version of themselves.
It's easier for colleges to trust you when you're genuine than it is when you're just too polished.