Ok, during this recent application essay season, I was shown some sights that students were using. My clients are asked to write their own essays, but the students always keep me apprised of what is out there for their cohorts. I was not very pleased to see some sights that have stock formats (read forms) for essays. Some even had specific supplement essays by school.
There are so many things wrong with this short cut. First, let’s talk about plagiarism for a moment. This is stealing someone else’s work, even if you paid to use it. Submitting someone else’s essay is morally wrong and actually is a crime, for which you can be sued, by its author. Second, use your intelligence and save your money! College Admission Departments read thousands of essays. People who read them are not unfamiliar with this effort, and those that are unoriginal, cookie-cutter, standard formats typically stand out and not in a good way.
Now let’s talk about another violation that is also plagiarism. Some essays are actually asking you to tell the school why you want to attend that particular school. There is an art to this essay, in terms of crating and wording, but it is also NOT a cookie-cutter, format. Please DO NOT copy and paste whole sections of the college’s website descriptions as the reasons why you want to attend. I have read several this season, for which I actually know how the student writes, and I immediately question the validity of the words. I often open the college’s webpage myself to see particulars about the school. DO NOT plagiarize!
Also, edits. Let’s have a moment to discuss well-meaning parents, teachers, elder siblings and the like who edit and edit, and eventually they edit out the original person’s voice. A reader can tell when the phrases are so oddly worded and plain awkward, but thought to be impressive because of the volume. Do not use passive voice frequently! Do not say something in 25 words that can be said in five. Also do not use a tone that reflects a travel guide or college handbook rather than your genuine voice.
I realize that if you are applying to 16 to 20 schools, you might have 10 of these types of essays to write, and several short answer essays that are under the Questions part of the Common Application. You really cannot simply copy and paste, but change the name from school to school. Often when students do this, they are pretty much skipping the actual question. They are interpreting the question to fit their essay, rather than reading the question and answering it directly.
This application process is lengthy. Please plan accordingly. Early decision and early action applications are starting to become due today and will be for the whole month really. Then come ED2 and regular decision, etc. You cannot do an effective or impressive job at this without thought, review, and review again. I insist that all my regular decision applications for my clients be finished before December 15, so that we have enough time to review and edit. We usually submit at least 4 days before Christmas week. So it is very important to be doing work continuously. Do not save ALL for the day before or even the week before. Use you Thanksgiving vacation prudently!
Any questions, need support? Contact me, happy to help!