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I would have doubts about any 17 year old thinking about much in "retrospect" or using that choice of word.
I'm very happy with my essay and with the fact that I can say it truely is my work.
how do you feel that "thesaurusy" words are viewed in an essay?
Vocabulary should be varied and interesting. Teenagers tend to use the same boring words (like varied and interesting) over and over and over. Check for repetition. Suggest more colorful alternatives. On the other hand, dont encourage your child to use words hes not comfortable or familiar with. He should use a thesaurus for suggestions, but his writing shouldnt sound as if he swallowed one.
I would still guess that admissions officers are much more confident about their ability to discern whether a kid wrote the piece than they should be.