One aspect not mentioned (perhaps because it's only true in my imagination) is the "release valve" these essays may provide. By offering this outlet for parental input and participation in the application, the essays and other application decisions can be fully-owned by the applicant. That little nuance or 4th grade achievement that's important to dad that the applicant might barely recall or regards as too inconsequential to work it into an essay can now find a home in the application folder without a battle. So, is it possible that parental essays yield more honest (as in "true-to-the-applicant") essays from the applicants?
I started reading this article with a sense of dread but I'm persuaded that it's not entirely evil.
And here's a note to those who haven't read the article yet: keep a tissue box beside your PC, iPad, etc. before clicking through to this link.