Essays just a way for colleges to manipulate

At the suggestion of a poster here, I went on Indeed to see if colleges are actually advertising for essay readers. And they are…I found Cornell paying a princely sum of up to $25 per hour.
This whole process is beyond ridiculous. It is just a ploy for colleges to take whoever they want to accept based on something that can be heavily manipulated.
Here are examples of essays that have “worked” at Harvard. Quite good IMO but come on!
https://www.thecrimson.com/topic/sponsored-successful-harvard-essays-2021/

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Why is it a problem that colleges accept whomever they want? Regardless, it’s not difficult to train people to read and evaluate college apps (or hire people with previous admissions experience), which is reflected in the hourly rates of these jobs.

Rather than use examples from college consultants (so no idea if these are real essays that ‘worked’ at H, or not), JHU, Hamilton, and Tufts all publish essays of accepted students. College essay guy’s website also has many essay examples.

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At highly selective schools multiple people will read the essays (and review the entire application) with escalating levels of experience and importance. At the most elite schools an accepted application will have received at a minimum a preliminary read, a detailed and comparative review by the regional admissions officer, and ultimately a thorough review at admissions committee which typically for success requires regional advocacy and majority agreement.

Many of those involved are making more than $25 per hour and have dedicated their professional careers to this process. Based on that thorough review juxtaposed against the schools institutional needs, targets and goals the school in fact does have the ability to take whoever they want.

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The irony…and there is a college essay guy. Who would have thunk?
I wonder what would happen on a class assignment if students submitted heavily edited essays with the help of folks like the college essay guy?
Do you realize how utterly ridiculous this system is?

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I have no bone to pick with you.
As I said above, if you pulled a stunt like that in school, college etc. you would be likely suspended for academic dishonesty. Yet, we use this flawed system to select students.
It is beyond ridiculous.

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Lots of students benefit from the many free resources on the college essay guy’s website. He also runs classes on essay writing for HS and independent counselors. College essays are not the typical 5 paragraph essay that is taught in many English classes.

Ironic you are criticizing this specific business when you posted a link from Crimson Education.

It’s not a perfect system, but I generally support colleges admitting the students they want according to their institutional priorities. Meaning I will take the US system rather than a non-holistic system like in the UK. People seem to forget that most US colleges accept most students, and that generally outcomes are tied to the effort of the student, not the name of the school.

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I posted the link to show how edited and kitschy the essays were. I am not going to make this acrimonious.

Do you have a choice? I certainly do not.

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Just answering the last question. There are lots of schools where essays are not required or optional. Some of them are very good colleges as well.

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I have no problem with any writing resources out there be it College Essay Guy or something else. Same as I had no problem actually helping my kids with homework when they were in school. The point is to learn to do the work. If College Essay Guy’s website or mom n dad can actually help kids learn to write then I’m all for it. My kids didn’t need any help in writing, but math — that’s another story.

The screwed up thing is how schools want you to be able to memorize and regurgitate. That’s not how real life works. We all look stuff up all the time. Life is an open book test! School should be too, IMO, whether it’s looking up converting Celsius to Fahrenheit or how to write effectively or how to replace the headlight in your car or fix a leaky toilet or do your taxes.

And I have worked grading essays — for 5th grade state assessments through the MCAT. That was an interesting job.

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When my daughter was applying, we borrowed a number of books with published college essays from the library. Some were so bad they were funny, as in laugh out loud funny. There were also some truly beautiful pieces of writing. At the end of some books it related the college results of the students who had agreed to share their information. We found very little correlation between the quality of writing (in our humble opinion) and the acceptance results of the students. From this very informal study (with a biased sample most probably) we surmised that “The college essay” had questionable influence on admissions results.

I went through the European “meritocratic” system and we had to write a college essay, which was graded by two independent anonymous reviewers. Our essays were anonymous too. The score contributed to our overall scores in (my case) math, physics and chemistry. The essay I had to write was about the merits and demerits of my country joining the European Union. We got four hours total to write the piece. I don’t remember how I argued in my essay but do remember that the two reviewers’ scores were too disparate and that the essay had to be sent to a third reviewer, that, luckily enough for me, agreed with the higher scoring reviewer. The need for a third review was rare in other subjects and not quite as rare in the essay portion of our exam. It wasn’t only the style and organization of the essay that could be in question, it could also be the politics of the opinion. Of course, the politics of the reviewer should not affect the college essay review, but the reviewers are only human.

I hated the essay part of the exam. My daughter loved writing college essays because she loves creative writing and does it for fun.

To have to hire college readers for a few months seems a little crazy to me.

When I read essays this was also the system we used. Each piece whether it was from a 5th grader or someone taking the MCAT had to be read twice and the readers had to be in agreement. If they weren’t it was kicked out to a third reader who was more experienced. It’s literally been decades since I did that job so I’m a little hazy on some of it, but it was enlightening to me how bad some of the MCAT essays were. You expected that with the little kids, but I would like a med student who can communicate! We didn’t grade on content, though — weren’t looking for correct answers — we just graded on the ability to write clearly and concisely and elaborate as needed.

I’m sure the MCAT is completely different now — that was more than 20 years ago.

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With these timed essays, at least one can know that the student wrote the essay, not some paid college essay writer.

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Wouldn’t it be too late to learn how to do the work when the kid is ready to apply for college?

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I think that’s a bit cynical (said gently). Many students, especially males, don’t fully mature as students until college. Many students of all types greatly improve their writing skills in college.

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What exactly are you saying here? Who is it that colleges want to take, and why is that a bad thing?

What is your point here? Is that this paying temporary workers to read essays is fine, but they aren’t being paid enough? Or is it that there is something unseemly about people making a mere $25/hour (which is $50,000/year full-time equivalent) passing judgment on the applicants?

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You’re probably right about that. Wouldn’t that mean that male applicants are disadvantaged relative to their female counterparts? Should the colleges then give them a break?

What makes you think this isn’t happening already?

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Some, maybe many, colleges do give males greater consideration in admissions, especially on their GPAs…there are a number of sources on that including Jeff Selingo in his most recent book.

He did a CC thread here too and also confirmed that there, around post 61, see here (and I don’t know why my posts had such wacky large fonts in that thread!)

Reviewing that thread reminds me how much I used to enjoy lookingforward’s perspectives, I learned a lot from her. :pensive:

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Yes says the male Vassar alum such as myself.

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