General Education

College Essay Edits: The Eleventh Hour

College Essay Edits: The Eleventh Hour
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Sherwyn Fullington February 8, 2019

We know, we know. It feels like you've been working on your college essay forever. But don't send it in before giving it one last edit — you'll thank yourself once the acceptance letters start pouring in.

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While it’s true you need great grades and solid SAT scores to get into the college of your dreams, a compelling college essay is of the utmost importance. The essay will give you an opportunity to share a unique part of yourself. Think about it as a way to share all the quirks about you that make you you: Did you start your own dog-walking service? Do you play the bassoon? Teach yoga to children?

William R. Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Harvard College, recently stated in a New York Times article, “One of the great clichés of college admissions is the exhortation that students find their own voices in the essay (and interviews) — and ‘be themselves.’ It’s a cliché because it’s good advice.”

At this point, you’re probably nearing the finish line in your application process and have an impeccable college essay that will blow admissions officers away, but you also probably feel like you have been working on it forever. Remember the difference between a good college essay and a great college essay is the extra time you put into the writing process, so don’t skip out on the crucial final stages!

  • EDIT: “Perhaps this point would fit in better at this part of my essay,” or “Maybe this really doesn’t support my topic” might be a few of the considerations that come to mind while editing your college essay. Do my ideas flow logically? Am I getting my point across? Review every element of your essay with a critical eye. Good editing skills and attention to detail will help you transform your rough draft into a perfectly polished essay.

  • PROOF: There’s no room for spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in your essay, so get rid of them! Consider making appropriate changes for improving writing style and consistency. During this stage it might pay off to have someone else take a look at your writing. You’ve probably been working on this for some time, and a new set of eyes could very well pick up on something that you’ve missed.

  • POLISH: You’ve finished proofreading and correcting all of the errors you came across. Now, it’s time for finishing touches. Does everything read well and flow smoothly? If you effectively worked your way through each stage of the college essay writing process, polishing should simply be matter of crossing your “t”s and dotting your “i”s.

Samuel Johnson once said, “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” The college admissions essay could be one of the most important essays you ever write. Take the time to write it well and to really find your voice in your subject matter, and it could pay off — big time.


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