By: Al Brouillard Copyright 2003-2007.
Most college admissions officers will not hesitate to admit that the essay is the single most important
element of college applications. Through essays, students can express thoughts about who they are.
With this in mind, students need to seek trustworthy editors to guide them in writing their essays and
to offer advice about how to make overall improvements. Since the college essay is a very specialized type
of writing, the following tips are designed to help you masterfully edit them.
And parents remember, the admissions officer will know a parent essay from a
student essay, if not immediately, during the interview.
#1 The essay should focus on the student and reveal something about him or her.
In a process that is oftentimes dominated by impersonal test scores and GPAs,
most admissions officers view the essay as their only chance to get to know your student as an individual.
Because of this expectation, you should make sure that your student offers some insight about who he or
she is and about his or her way of thinking. This does not have to be done overtly. When you are
finished reading the essay, though, you should feel that you have a better understanding
(as well as a mental picture) of the writer's personality.
#2 The essay should be creative and interesting. Admissions officers read stacks of essays each day.
The ones that they remember, naturally, are those that are creative. Does the introduction draw you in?
Is the essay unique or does it approach its topic in an unusual way?
If not, you should identify where in the essay you lost interest.
Does the essay start out strong and then lose its momentum?
How can the essay be spiced up?
How can your student take a different or more creative approach to the topic?
#3 The essay needs to be clear and flow smoothly with nice transitions.
Are there any areas that you didn't understand?
Is there a gap between what the author knows and what the reader actually understands?
Are the transitions smooth and does the story make sense?
#4 The essay should make you like the student or want to meet him or her.
Since you already know the student (and presumably like him or her), imagine this essay is your
first introduction. Would you like to meet the author? Is the student portrayed in a likable,
interesting way? Would he or she be a valuable addition to your school?
#5 The essay should be flawless. Content isn't all that counts.
Check your student's spelling, grammar, and word usage as well.
Do not rely solely on spell-check. By, bye, and buy will all be correct, though
they may not be right. Every mistake you find is the one that the admissions officers won't.
#6 Be honest. The most important thing you can do is to give your honest evaluation of your
student's essay. If you think that this piece needs improvement, don't be afraid to say so.
Offer as much constructive criticism as possible and suggestions for improvement.
#7The last hint is HOW. Ever read a news article? The headline makes you want to read more.
This will really make you stand out, also. Then, as the article starts, the most important
information is first and draws you into the story.
Answer the six news questions - who, what, when, where, why, and how.
We hope that these tips will help you to better evaluate college essays.
Just by taking the time to read this essay, however, you are making a valuable contribution
towards helping your child get into college.
When you re-read, if anything can't stand on its own, remove it. You want the
whole story, plus you want to be concise and interesting.
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