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I am willing to read and critique any essay, but...

jeremyjjeremyj Registered User Posts: 210 Junior Member
edited October 2015 in College Essays
Future college students, I'm addressing you in particular - you need to learn how to take constructive criticism. I love this site; I love the optimism and reliving the days I waited until I got each of my acceptance letters with you. If you have not read Strunk & White "Elements of Style" (and yes, I hear certain people groaning) then my advice to you is going to be rather limited.

If you cannot use a semi-colon properly, do not use one. It will not make you appear smarter than you are.
If you insist on using a cliche (e.g. solid as a rock, thrown to the wind) I will stop reading immediately.
If you do not know the difference between i.e. and e.g., your English teacher has failed you.

This all speaks, unfortunately, to those individuals whose first language is not English. I cannot begin to muster enough sympathy for you. I know native English speakers that cannot conjugate verbs or stop themselves from saying things like "they've done good".

I appreciate the "thank you" I get after a criticism, knowing that you are foaming at the mouth the entire time you read what I respond with. It's good manners; your parents taught you well. But be prepared for someone who does not know you (much like the people who will eventually read your admissions essays) to say things you might not want to hear.

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Replies to: I am willing to read and critique any essay, but...

  • jeremyjjeremyj Registered User Posts: 210 Junior Member
    edited October 2015
    My tutoring days are long behind me. I'm more likely to be teaching your child these days.

    I'm sorry, but if you cannot take constructive criticism then you really should not be asking people to read your essays. I realize that the examples I gave might seem flippant, and perhaps they are. You would be surprised (one hopes) the number of essays I read where prospective students cannot use common punctuation.

    I don't intend in any way to make myself out to be the enemy. I have critiqued dozens of common app and specific app essays on this site with absolutely no self-interest. I read one yesterday that made me want to adopt the kid, it was that good. And I told him so. I want every student to get into his or her dream school. Getting into mine was (is) one of my happiest memories. I think you may have misunderstood (or I have misrepresented) my case. If it is the latter, I apologize. I just get a bit annoyed after spending time reading an essay wherein there are misspellings and telling these students such (many of whom list Ivy leagues as their school of choice) to hear back that I don't know what I'm talking about.

    There's not much I can do about the former.
  • bjkmombjkmom Registered User Posts: 4,144 Senior Member
    I can absolutely see where you're coming from.

    I just read a snotty remark from someone I've been helping with the essay. I've repeated the exact same suggestions three times and they've been ignored. Yet I read edit after edit. I finally opted out-- if my suggestions aren't what you want, I'm obviously wasting my time. The response I got was one of a petulant child going off to lick his wounds.

    Another potential college student here was all rainbows and unicorns when my advice was what was hoped for. But when I suggested that one essay was really off the mark, I got another snotty remark.

    At the end of the day, I'm a stranger offering to do you a favor. Feel free to ignore my advice. But please be polite about it. Don't assume that any of us here are at your beck and call. Consider that perhaps some of us have some sort of an idea of how to write. (After all, presumably that's why you asked us to help you.)

    I love teaching, and working with kids, and doing what I can to help them. But I'm nobody's doormat.
  • jeremyjjeremyj Registered User Posts: 210 Junior Member
    My tipping point came when a high school junior told me I had no idea what I was talking about when it came to college admissions and that I should stick to my cubicle job. Granted, my writing has always been good enough to get me into college, both undergrad/grad (some prestigious schools in the mix, I might add), produce a dissertation, and publish in several journals - still I had no idea what I was doing.

    I feel for you, @bjkmom. I am in the same boat. I told one writer that it was obvious he had plagiarized portions of his essay. I even included links to the original online. For which, I got a curt "thanks for your opinion" and that was that. Again, I want these kids to get into the schools they dream about... but I do not envy the rude awakening they are going to get if they are not at the very least open to hearing how their paragraphs make no sense or they end sentences with incomplete thoughts.

    I've added to my disclaimer that I will by all means read essays. I enjoy it. I wouldn't do what I do if I didn't or wasn't the least bit curious what (and now I'm going to sound like that old man that tells kids to get off his lawn) the younger generation think about and more importantly how they think. I offer opinions, that are not sugar coated, and they are free to take my advice or leave it. Costs me nothing to give advice, really. Costs them a lot more not to at least consider what I have to say.

    I also applaud you - for at least taking the time to offer to help. And I must add that for every ingrate's essay I read, I get to read a hundred from good applicants doing their best. That's the thought that keeps me going.
  • ayyyyyyyayyyyyyy Registered User Posts: 370 Member
    Jeremy, mind reading my common app essay?
  • cluelessgirl16cluelessgirl16 Registered User Posts: 30 Junior Member
    Hello @jeremyj ! Would you be willing to read and give feedback on my common app essay as well? I am very open to constructive criticism and would greatly appreciate any help. Thank you for your consideration!
  • jeremyjjeremyj Registered User Posts: 210 Junior Member
    There's a bit of a backlog given the holiday today, but if you send them I will try my best to get to them asap. I don't sugar coat my reviews though, so you'll get an honest opinion. Be forewarned. :)
  • jhedderjhedder Registered User Posts: 1 New Member

    hi @jeremyj would you be willing to read one of my essays?
  • jeremyjjeremyj Registered User Posts: 210 Junior Member
    @jhedder see above.
  • bjkmombjkmom Registered User Posts: 4,144 Senior Member
    You're far more generous than I-- I can't imagine volunteering to read hundreds of essays.

    But I've enjoyed the vast number of those I've read. And the vast majority of writers were appreciative. The ones who aren't stick out like sore thumbs.
  • jeremyjjeremyj Registered User Posts: 210 Junior Member
    Meh, I think the excitement and thrill of getting into one's dream school is contagious and I love it. :) I really only run into three or four categories of people so my advice really seems to be the same thing over and over.
  • chunkylumbeechunkylumbee Registered User Posts: 115 Junior Member
    Well I'd like to step up here and say that I am grateful to Cat Kent for his honest feedback to my essay. He told me that I suffer from over-comma syndrome,(hey Cat Kent there is another one but I'm working on it.) He was correct on every point he make to me and had a sense of humor about it. I have a 34ACT and a 780 Math SAT portion but I don't write that well. I also followed his advice and my essay is better. So my point is that I want someone to be brutally honest with me because that is how the admission process is. Thanks to anyone who takes their valuable time to help strangers. If I get into Stanford, I definitely see a Lex Luxor cat toy coming his way!!
  • bjkmombjkmom Registered User Posts: 4,144 Senior Member
    Oh, I enjoy it as well.

    But by the time I get home from school, get dinner on the table, grade whatever tests and quizzes I have, plan for tomorrow, maybe do a load of laundry after the dishes..."hundreds of essays" simply loses its appeal.
  • fhgirl16fhgirl16 Registered User Posts: 53 Junior Member
    @jeremyj Would you mind taking a look at my Georgetown School of Foreign Service essay? I would really appreciate it!
  • fhgirl16fhgirl16 Registered User Posts: 53 Junior Member
    will PM you
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