For many students, the peanut gallery plays a big role in the shaping of their college applications — and particularly their college admissions essays. That’s right. The peanut gallery. The peanut gallery can but is not limited to including: English teachers, school counselors, parents, the mailman, the local town sheriff, the art dealer across the street, and let’s not forget the woman who “used to help students with their essays.” Uh huh. You think we’re kidding about the mailman. We’re not.
We are quite often approached with a message such as this: “My daughter’s essays are in tip top shape. Her English teacher reviewed them and I had a friend down the block who used to work in admissions go over them as well. They both think the essays are exceptionally well written and that they will help my daughter stand out in a crowded applicant pool.” Uh huh. This is a clear red flag to us. And why again is this mom coming to us if this is what she believes to be true? We’ve written before on the pages of our college admissions blog about how the advice of high school English teachers, as a rule of thumb, should be avoided entirely when crafting and editing admissions essays. No offense to English teachers. Many of them do fabulous work and help shape the lives of young people everywhere. But sentences in college essays that begin with “however,” “nevertheless,” “on the contrary,” and more have no place. No way. College essays should be colloquial in nature. Using such phrasing is a mark of bad writing. Never use a fancy word when a simple word will do. Instead of however, go with “but.” It’s ok to start a sentence with “and” or “but.” But yes! No buts about this.
If you hire an expert on college admissions, whether it’s Ivy Coach or another firm, trust the expert. Well, actually, we can’t and won’t vouch for any other private college counseling firms. So many don’t trust that expertise. But you can trust our expertise. You’re paying good money for our expertise. Everyone is going to have a different opinion. The completed essays of our students speak for themselves — as do the calls to many of our students over the years from deans of admission that specifically reference their essays after they get in. And of course there’s our track record of our students gaining admission to their dream colleges — a track record spanning a quarter century. So ignore the advice of the mailman and all the other folks in the peanut gallery of life. We made that peanut gallery of life bit up. But it kind of flows. No? Let it flow, let it flow.