The thesaurus can be your friend…I mean, your companion, or maybe your ally. But it can also be your downfall if used inappropriately.

Some well-intentioned applicants might think it necessary to impress the panel with a highly-sophisticated vocabulary, and they turn to the thesaurus for help. The thesaurus, however, is merely a tool to help you find “that one word” you’ve momentarily forgotten or to assist you in creating the shade of meaning you’re seeking. It should not be used as a co-author who replaces words willy-nilly throughout your writings.
The great risk comes in the shades of meaning. Just as friend means something different than companion, which means something different than ally, there are shades of meaning in all the words we use. The thesaurus doesn’t have this context and can mask your true meaning or lose it altogether if relied on too heavily. Take this sentence, for example:

“I am a good candidate for the UST MBA program because I work hard, have a proven record of leadership, and am a desired teammate.”

This is a good first sentence because it shows organized thought expressed in straightforward language. When the thesaurus takes over, here is what can happen:

“I am a superior candidate for the UST MBA program because I toil unbreakably, have a verification of headship, and am a beloved teammate.”

Yikes!

Take it from me, writing in straightforward language, limiting your use of the thesaurus, will make your application much more successful…or flourishing, or triumphant.