Words of Wisdom for College Essay Editors


A recent column published in The New York Times offered some timely advice for parents who just can’t help tinkering with their child’s college essay.

In a word? Don’t.

“The paradox of the overzealous editing of the college essay by many helicopter parents is that they don’t know what a college essay is really about,” wrote JM Farkas, a college essay consultant. “Unlike the other parts of an application, where high grade point averages and SAT scores reign supreme, the essay is less about being impressive than it is about being authentic.”

And when parents try to insert their voice into the essay, the result, more often than not is a “terrible” college essay, added Farkas.

After all, the intent of the essay is to be “the purest part of the application.”

Farkas writes: “Contrary to popular belief, it’s not about unattainable standards or curing cancer. In fact, a good test of a college essay is: Can the writer convince the reader that she would make a great roommate?”

Read the full column and check out NACAC’s essay tips.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org. 

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