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Editing Your College Essays

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Replies to: Editing Your College Essays

  • carolyncarolyn 7242 replies193 threads Senior Member
    Here's a good article on writing college essays with many quotes from college adcoms describing what they are looking for:
    http://washingtontimes.com/metro/20050109-114057-1151r.htm
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  • ohio_momohio_mom 4029 replies16 threads Senior Member
    Thanks for the link, Carolyn. When you think about it, an applicant's stats take only a moment or two to scan. But an essay takes time to read - and if the adcom is wincing throughout the process, that does not bode well for the applicant. Even if you are not a brilliant writer, you can still produce a respectable essay if you give it enough time, thought, and revision.
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  • astrixastrix 2375 replies64 threads Senior Member
    just noticed this. thanks, all who put their time into coming up with these excellent tips.
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  • allenaallena 1700 replies16 threads Senior Member
    For the record, I even though I don't think I got the recognition I should have, I'm still very proud of the work I did on that paper, and the things I was able change while in there. So it was in no way a loss for me.
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  • firsttimemomfirsttimemom 118 replies22 threads Junior Member
    May I add just one thing:

    Do not try to edit your essay on the college app. itself, on the internet. You may wish to copy a paper to the site and edit it later.....we found that the editorial changes my son made did not stick, and we thought they had. The one app. we submitted before we realized the problem had a garbled essay. Bad feeling? You betcha.

    Finish all work off the app., then simply cut and paste. Do NOT edit on the app.
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  • ohio_momohio_mom 4029 replies16 threads Senior Member
    Good point! Thanks, firsttimemom.
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  • maxim1maxim1 2 replies0 threads New Member
    Your editing post of early January is a classic. Thanks so much for the effort. I will say that tossing out sentences is not always easy. But good editing leaves no time for sentiment. If a sentence doesn't work, toss it. Toss even paragraphs and even the entire essay if you see repair time being about the same as redo time.

    On mechanics of word processing, save versions as your editing progresses. You might conclude that the discarded text worked better than you'd thought. It's be nice to have it back again. Reconstructed text is often not as good as what's gone down the memory hole.

    Best of luck everyone.
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  • sleepybunnysleepybunny 108 replies34 threads Junior Member
    For a college essay, is it a good idea to write about a learning experience when you were 8? or is it way too long ago in the past that the readers do not know if that experience reflect your personality anymore?
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  • ohio_momohio_mom 4029 replies16 threads Senior Member
    If you organize your essay correctly, it shouldn't be problem. Describe your experience at eight. Then, discuss its impact on your life today. You may be able to talk about the experience as a catalyst for learning today, and about how your intellectual outlook is broader and deeper today because of it. Obviously, give examples that will interest your readers and let them see you as a person - not just an application!
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  • dadofsamdadofsam 1585 replies50 threads Senior Member
    Just another voice on proofreading. Have the essay proofread for typos (including words that the spell-checker won't pick up) by someone else, preferably an adult. No need to make the adcom reading your essay even a tiny bit annoyed, and diverted from the point of your essay, by his/her spotting a typo.

    I write this from the point of view of one who has read many briefs submitted by law students in national competitions - and many not thoroughly proofed. I have had to make conscious efforts to temporarily ignore those typos in order to focus on the general writing skills (or lack of them). Don't make the adcom reviewing your essay have to do that.
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  • gianievvegianievve 1755 replies66 threads Senior Member
    Thank you for the contributions.
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  • neha1neha1 1822 replies31 threads Senior Member
    darn!! why did i doscover this site juz last week?? :(
    great advice on essays!! cud have certainly used it.......
    valuable for our juniors...
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  • WabashWabash 821 replies173 threads Member
    i would go 2x spaced easier to read.
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  • JIMMY@KILLARNEY[email protected] 1232 replies12 threads Senior Member
    I know this not the real college admission essay.

    Question: what type of tone or mood should I use in my essay? (topic is about describing your leadership, interest in politics, or community sevice experience)
    ???
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  • JIMMY@KILLARNEY[email protected] 1232 replies12 threads Senior Member
    By the way, I am from Vancouver, BC.
    My question is writing an admissions essay for a summer program at Princeton.
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  • just_forget_mejust_forget_me 2199 replies45 threads Senior Member
    It's all about the subjunctive mood. :-P
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  • JIMMY@KILLARNEY[email protected] 1232 replies12 threads Senior Member
    can you explain it with more detail?
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  • just_forget_mejust_forget_me 2199 replies45 threads Senior Member
    I was kidding about the subjunctive mood. It was a grammar joke, don't worry if you didn't get it.

    Anyway, my best advice is to be you. If you're a serious kind of person, be serious. If you're funny, throw in some jokes. Let your personality come through as you address the prompt.
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  • Little MotherLittle Mother 1866 replies24 threads Senior Member
    If possible, you might want to address why you/your interests would benefit from attending that particular program and perhaps how you could contribute to it.
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  • marlgirlmarlgirl 1034 replies62 threads Senior Member
    Some more essay writing advice...

    1) Find out what makes you unique, defining characteristics, maybe 3 to 4 things you really, really value. For me, two things that I really love are learning and my friends... thus my extended essay ended up being a typical conversation with my friends with some commentary.

    2) Don't worry too much about being terribly creative. I really believe that virtually any topic can work well. Clearly anything involving you getting in trouble with the law, an intimate encounter with your boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. is probably not a good idea. Even really cliche topics can work. You just have to make them personal and use lots of detail and really show how it impacted your life. Maybe building houses in Mexico or your grandparent's funeral really did have a profound effect on you. So write about it. And MAKE IT PERSONAL. It doesn't have to gush with emotion, just make it is really specific to you. If you know anyone else who could have written the essay, toss it out.

    3) Don't try to impress the adcoms with your essay. Don't use big words just to use them. Use, more or less, your style that you'd use while speaking. If you try to impress them it shows, and it makes it seem more fake. Fake = not "you," thus it's bad.

    4) After you've done some brainstorming, just start writing. Write a lot. Try different intros and different directions. If you get stuck and don't know what to write next, feel free to just try again. In each draft you might like only a couple of sentences. That's fine. The more you write the more phrases and sentences you'll find that you like and the more you'll discover about yourself. You might have four or five essays you think are your final drafts and then realize that they just aren't quite right.

    5) Edit your essays down. A lot. Make them more concise and to the point. At first I was VERY resistant to this. I'm often quite wordy, so being concise was quite difficult for me. However, it made my essays MUCH better! I think I cut down one short answer from about 400 to 250 words and it was a million times better because it had a clear purpose and direction. Figure out what the essay is about, what you want to communicate through the essay (and it might be several things). Cut out anything that doesn't add to it's purpose.

    6) Have a few close friends and/or teachers who know you well read through the essays. See if they think they are "you." I had my best friend read through one of my essays I thought was my final personal statement and she was like "this isn't quite right... I really don't like it and think you should start over." We talked about it for a while and I realized that she was right. My final personal statement was much more "me." Teachers can really help you be more concise. Find a teacher who hates wordiness and ask him/her for help in finding parts that don't need to be there.
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