Is it ok to have someone proofread your essay?

Application Process

Our counselors answered:

Is it ok to have someone proofread your essay?

Rod Bugarin
Former Admissions Officer Columbia, Brown, and Wesleyan University

Is it ok to have someone proofread your essay?

Here is my video response to the question.

Jessica Brondo
Founder and CEO The Edge in College Prep


It is most certainly okay to have someone proofread your essay before you submit it. It is NOT okay to have someone write your entire essay for you or edit it in such a way that it takes away from your voice. However, as with writing anything, proofreading is an integral part of the writing process. You should first proofread it yourself to catch any major grammar or spelling errors, but sometimes a second set of eyes is necessary to catch minor things that you may not have noticed as the writer.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

Another Set of Eyes

It's always helpful to have someone proofread your essay, because another set of eyes can catch typos, grammatical errors, and other small problems in your essay. As the author of your essay, you can sometimes become blind to obvious errors because you have read it through so many times (and are probably sick of it by now)! Just be sure that proofreading doesn't extend to more substantive changes and edits to your work. Remember -- it's your work and your voice that admissions officers want to hear!

Ginger Fay
President Fay College Counseling, LLC

Even Santa checks twice

You should absolutely, positively have someone you trust proofread your essays - in fact, your whole application should be proofread. Details are important: mistype your address and your neighbor will get your admission letter instead of you!

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

Having a competent proofreader can be important!

There are so many errors that are just not picked up by spell-check or grammar-check. The mistake that I found particularly amusing is the student who accidentally wrote whales when she meant to say Wales. So having someone that you trust can be key. But be careful that in their desire to assist you, that your "voice" does not get lost. You essay should sound like it was written by you- a 17 or 18 year old and not by a 40-something. And while English teachers know all the grammar rules, college essays should not sound like a book report. Boring. Personal essays showcase a more casual and creative style of writing. Don't show your essay to more then one or two individuals because if you follow everyone's advise- it could end up being weaker.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

Proofreading of Essays

I would say that you must have someone proofread your essay. People don't tend to see their own spelling mistakes, typographical errors, etc. Although the content of your essay is definitely your own, and you should take responsibility for proofreading your work as you do it, it's a good idea to let several other people look at it to see if you're making yourself understood and don't have any glaring errors. Remember that the way you express yourself should and will reveal something about you to the college admissions officers.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

Seek Limited Advice, But Make Sure The Essay Is Your Own

I’ve heard it said that a camel is a horse created by committee; each part seems reasonable on its own, but taken as a whole it seems impractical. The same situation occurs when students get too much advice on their college essays. Getting one or two trusted people to proofread is worthwhile as long as they understand their role is to point out errors and make suggestions, not rewrite your essays into their own voice. You run the risk of receiving contradictory advice when you have more people proofread. Make sure the final essay sounds like you and is representative of your best work.

Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting


For example, you can have a grammar expert pick apart your essay to before you submit it in order to avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Is it ok to have someone proofread your essay?

Yes, in fact I suggest that you have someone proofread it. Proofreading means to search your writing for errors--typographical, grammatical and spelling mistakes.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Proofread Proofread Proofread!

Especially in this age of spell check, proofreading is critical. There is a BIG difference between someone pointing out a grammatical error and someone rewriting your paper. I'll never forget reading the essay about the girl who volunteered as a candy stripper (I do believe she meant striper)! While it made me laugh, I was not going to remember her for the right reasons. It is sooo easy to miss errors because you know what you want to say/meant to say and your eyes just make the correction automatically. Having a fresh perspective is critical if you are trying to avoid the careless mistake.