A Mom’s Advice for Your College Essay

Is 600 words too long?  What should I write about?  Should I choose one of the Common App topics or should I come up with my own?  These are all questions my own kids asked when writing their college essays.  I would like to give you the same advice I’ve given them, one of whom is in his second year at a highly competitive school and the other is in the middle of her application process.

Write your essay.  Make it your own.  Set it aside and let it simmer.  Come back to it a few days or even weeks later and reread it.  Edit appropriately.  Then PROOFREAD it.  You should also ask someone you trust to PROOFREAD it.  It is probably not the best idea to ask your best friend to PROOFREAD your essay for you.  They are not likely to give you negative feedback.  Of course, any PROOFREADER should only be giving you feedback related to spelling, typographical errors or grammar.  The content should be all yours.  Be sure to look for things like ‘their’ vs ‘there’, ‘our’ vs ‘are’, ‘its’ vs ‘it’s, etc.  Spell check will not catch these things.  Don’t rely exclusively on spell check or grammar check either.

I think the simmering process is important because it gets you away from your essay for a little while and you will be looking at it with fresh eyes when you come back to it.  Think of it like a pot of your mom’s yummy spaghetti sauce.  It tastes much better after simmering for a while than when it is first made.

Have fun with your essay and don’t take it too seriously.  Best wishes for a stellar essay.  Did I mention PROOFREADING?

– Betsy Quinzio

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