Princeton University and Brown University both recently announced that they’ll be requiring applicants to submit graded papers. This decision takes effect this admissions cycle and comes on the heels of both schools rendering the submission of an SAT or ACT essay score optional. Make no mistake, applicants to these elite universities should still absolutely submit an SAT or ACT essay score. As our regular readers know all too well, when schools admit only a tiny fraction of applicants, who cares what is optional in admissions. To not submit such a score will surely raise the eyebrows of admissions officers irrespective of what they may publicly tell you to the contrary and it’s not like they’ll be thinking, “She must’ve gotten such a great score that she didn’t want to send it in.” No, no they won’t. But it seems that folks have already voiced concerns about the graded papers and we figured we’d address such concerns.
Editing of To-Be-Graded Papers
While these schools want graded papers (papers that will be marked by the teachers of students), that doesn’t mean students can’t have help in the formulation of such papers before they ever see a teacher’s red pen. And to those folks who say that editing students’ papers is unethical, we say nonsense. Because clearly those folks have never read a book, which is, in most instances, edited by a book agent, by an editor at a publishing house, by the author’s best friend’s sister. Clearly those folks have never seen a television series, the scripts for which are edited by TV literary agents, by production company executives and producers, by studio executives — even before the scripts are handed off to network executives for often multiple rounds of network notes.
Even acclaimed television scribe Shonda Rhimes receives notes from Netflix. Good writing is about rewriting. It’s about editing. To suggest that editing is immoral is demonstrative of a lack of understanding of what makes good writing.
Willard Dix recently penned an editorial for “Forbes” entitled “Submitting Graded Papers Won’t Solve College Admission’s Writing Problem.” In this piece, he states, “As long as students and parents see college admission as [valuable] enough to go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt for, finding a way around this latest roadblock will be a high priority…Not all applicants are like this, of course. They’ll submit exactly the essays that colleges want to see and accept the consequences. The English teacher’s red pen (or electronic equivalent), comments and grade will speak honestly about where the students are. They’ll play the game with integrity and a sense of fair play.” Mr. Dix, you’d be well served to have your own writing edited. In just the portion of your piece we cited above, we had to add an ‘l’ to valuable…since there is an ‘l’ in valuable. Bye, Felicia!