When folks write in saying that they’re basically done with their college essays, including their Personal Statement and all of the supplemental essays required of the universities to which they’ll be applying, we typically cringe. Just because a student has entered 650 or 500 or 250 words into a document does not mean that essay is good to go. In fact, in our experience, 99.9% of the time, that essay not only isn’t good to go but the student would have been crazy to submit such writing. Whether it’s an essay about a student’s grandfather, her service trip in Peru, her shadowing of a physician, or anything else a student should absolutely not write about in a Personal Statement (or any college admissions essay for that matter!), this student would be much better off not changing a comma here and there but instead highlighting the entire essay and clicking delete. They should then click save. And start over. Yes, from square one.
Most Regular Decision applications aren’t due until January 1st. There is still ample time to completely revamp admissions essays. There’s no sense changing a comma here and there when the words before and after those commas will severely hurt your case for admission. And, yes, that sentence about how good you are at math and how you have straight A’s should absolutely be stricken from the record. Even if you did have straight A’s and were the next John Nash, that kind of sentence can — and likely will — cost you your chance for admission.
If students and their parents are looking for someone to move a comma here and place a semicolon there within a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad college admissions essay, they’ve come to the wrong place and we advise them to go elsewhere. We cannot in good faith edit an essay we know to be terrible. We need to work with you from scratch — and that includes brainstorming a new idea and direction for each essay.
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