Many Eyes, But Only One Voice
College, Writing, Tips Many Eyes, But Only One Voice
Recently I was asked to answer a question as part of the Unigo Experts Network. The question was, “Is it OK to have someone proofread your college admissions essay?”
Recently I was asked to answer a question as part of the Unigo Experts Network. The question was, “Is it OK to have someone proofread your college admissions essay?” Our response is limited to only 100 words, but I thought this was a good question and worthy of a longer article. So, here I am going to expand upon my response.
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The short answer is, yes, it is permissible to have others read and edit your college admission essay for you. With that being said, the ideas must be your own, and the voice must remain unmistakably yours. While admissions officers differ on whether or not they are able to determine if a student has actually written the essay, there is no question that a 30 or 40 year old writes with a much different voice than a 17 or 18 year old writes with.
That being said, a college admissions essay should represent a students best work. The best writers are those who rewrite and carefully hone their message. The essay cannot possibly be the best work of a student unless it has moved through a few drafts with steady improvement. Often times, when we write something we become too connected to the writing to be able to objectively edit. Unfortunately, I see this in my own writing, where I will edit a letter and send it out only to realize later that it still had a mistake. However, when I pick up writing for one of my coworkers, I can easily identify the mistakes. Having someone who has no emotional connection to the writing helps to eliminate some common mistakes such as having a word spelled correctly, but it not being the right word and sending the wrong essay to a college (think of an essay finishing with, “…and that is why I want to go to your biggest competitor.).
It is important that you have two different types of people edit your essay: those who know you well and those who don’t know you well. Why is that important? You want someone who knows you to read your essay and finish it and think that the essay accurately portrays you. Further, you want someone who doesn’t know you to finish reading the essay and get the feeling that they do know you. This means you need to start your essay early enough to allow time to have people review your essay for you.