We’ve got a big college essay mistake to point out to our readers. There’s a piece up on “The Washington Post” by Emmet Rosenfeld entitled “How to conquer the dreaded college application essay” that we figured we’d write about on the pages of our admissions blog. The piece focuses on the Personal Statement — one of the many college admissions essays most highly selective colleges require — of a student who sought Mr. Rosenfeld’s candid advice. But what a mistake this student made in seeking out Mr. Rosenfeld’s help because Mr. Rosenfeld then dissected her Personal Statement in “The Washington Post’s” magazine! Yikes is right. Yikes, yikes, yikes.
We imagine this young woman gave Mr. Rosenfeld permission to dissect her Personal Statement on the pages of one of the preeminent publications in America. But doing so was a major error in judgment. After all, as Mr. Rosenfeld so states in his piece, the student hasn’t even yet applied to colleges like Notre Dame and George Mason. Now a Notre Dame admissions officer can read the revisions of her Personal Statement. And they can read that the student had help from a number of parties in crafting her Personal Statement (at Ivy Coach, we work exclusively behind the scenes so that nobody knows our students had help!). As Mr. Rosenfeld states, the student had help from her high school English teacher (who as a group, in our humble opinion, unsurprisingly often offer the absolute worst advice!), from “a writing consultant” (whatever that means), and from him. Side note: After all of this assistance, her revised essay is still quite bad, in spite of Mr. Rosenfeld’s argument to the contrary.
So let this be a lesson to high school students around the world. Don’t get advice on your college admissions essays from the peanut gallery — from the butcher, the mailman, the English teacher, the neighbor. Seek out an expert who can actually — actually — make your writing better and more powerful. Seek out an expert who knows what highly selective colleges are looking for in admissions essays. And, above all, don’t let anyone publish your essays online before you even apply to college because it won’t help — but can indeed hurt — one’s case for admission.