While it is okay to have a parent proof an essay, they are not always the best option. Asking someone who is slightly more removed from the application process may be the wisest route to go. While parents mean well, any constructive feedback may be misinterpreted, creating conflict at what can already be a stressful time. Teachers, guidance counselors, even friends are viable candidates when looking for a second opinion on your writing.
My preference (and admissions officers’) would be that parents are minimally involved in the essay. Believe me, those admissions officers are experienced and they can definitely spot the difference between a 50 year-old businessperson’s phraseology and a 17-year-old senior’s own voice and manner of expression.
More than any other element of the application, the essay gives insight into who a student really is. So it should “sound” like the applicant, revealing personality, interests, quirks, personal style, and voice. Some parents can act as a sounding board without taking over the project, while others cannot. It is okay for parents to suggest topics, point out unique experiences or strengths, and help proofread the final product, but parents want to make sure the essay showcases the ideas and voice of an educated teenager rather than that of a middle-aged adult.
Yes! Parents may know other details about the student that they should include in the essay. Parents are also a great second pair of eyes for grammar and spelling errors. I would still suggest that a English professional still read over the essay for expert editing purposes.
I recommend that students try to find an adult other than their parents to help with essay editing. Parents are blinded by love and perhaps perfection. Each student needs to be able to claim authentic ownership of their essays. Mom and Dad may be great help during the brainstorming process of generating essay topics.
Who wrote your essay? You? Your parent? Someone else? The college is learning about you from what you write. Not what anyone else writes including your parent. Yes, you can ask a parent for suggestions. But, if they start writing the essay know that the college may very well determine that the work was not yours. That throws up a flag and not a good one. Is your parent going to write your essays that are assigned by professors while you are in college? Of course not. So, get used to writing your own essays. The college cares how you write not how your parent writes unless they are also applying to the same college as you.
Students may ask their parents for editing the essay, however, they better off asking their English teacher for such task. of course, some parents are in the position to do a good job, in many cases, they are not suitable for the job.
I have seen too many essays where parents “helped” and as result, the essay lost the student’s voice. Too many words had been added that just did not reflect the student’s vocabulary or mode of writing. College admissions readers are bright and intuitive and can tell when an essay has been “helped” too much. I see no problem with parents doing a grammar/spelling check as well as offering suggestions on how an essay could be improved. Just be sure that it still reads like it was written by a 17 year old and it shares the story that is important to them and not just an important sounding topic that a parent thinks would be more impressive .
Preferably not. If possible, mom and dad should stay out of the essay writing business. A teacher or a counselor are better. However, some parents are able to understand that over-editing essays is not a good thing. Everything should be spelled correctly, with correct grammar and punctuation, but the essay should sound like a high school student wrote it. Most of the time I see that parents get into an essay and take away the student voice…they make it too polished for a high school student. Colleges get suspicious when they receive an essay that sounds like a PhD wrote it.
The emphasis must be on “help” and not, “take over.” Parents, with only the best intentions, will often offer lots of input and comments, which their child will gratefully accept. The danger there is that the essay starts sounding more like a forty something adult, instead of a high school senior. There is a certain “voice” that defines a young person about to start college and if it is lacking in an essay, Admissions Directors will quickly pick it up. So by all means, help edit. It’s only natural. But resist the urge to rewrite everything in the way you might express it.
Now parents — you all know the difference between fixing typographical errors and making massive substantive changes to your child’s essay, right? Of course you do. Be really disciplined about not crossing the line between “good help” and “too much help.” To be honest, admissions officers can tell the difference between an essay that presents a 17 year old’s point of view and a 40-ish/50-ish/ageisjustanumber point of view. Remember — the admissions officers read thousands of essays every admissions season, and they can spot an overly polished essay a mile away. They can also check the student’s transcripts and test scores if they suspect that the writing quality of the essay seems to be overly “mature.” And you don’t want your kid to be exposed as the kid whose mommy wrote his essay, do you?
While it is certainly okay for your parents to proofread your college essays for grammatical errors, it’s important that the content of the essay is 100% yours!
It is okay for a parent to review a child’s essay; it is not okay for a parent to take over a child’s essay, tell her what words to use, what story to write, what message to send. College admissions officers tell us time and again that too many essays come to them sanitized. They want to read a genuine story written by the child in the child’s words and the child’s voice. When parents get too involved, the stories do not sound genuine. When a parent gets too involved, the story does not sound like an essay written by a 17-year-old student. We can tell when the student’s voice is missing; the colleges can tell too. Be careful when helping your own child.
When parents get involved in the nitty gritty of a college application, some families find conflict arises. If your situation is one where parents can offer opinions that are helpful and if you are the kind of student who is open to listening to suggestions, then surely parents can be good editors. Further, if you have parents who know grammar and writing conventions and can recognize flaws, go ahead and ask parents to help. For many students, finding an objective evaluator who is not a relative to help edit the essay is the best bet. Having a degree in English and being a published writer of college planning articles, and having edited hundreds of essays for students, I would be happy to help you too. Please contact me.
Yes. However, they should not write or re-write the essay. Essay’s should always been seen by someone else to look for grammatical and spelling errors. Many students do need help selecting a topic and organizing the essay. They should seek guidance from their counselors or teachers for this. The essay should be in the student’s voice and parent’s are not always the best advisors for this part of the application.
Here is my video response to the question.
From an ethical standpoint, a parent’s editing involvement in a student’s essay should be limited to pointing out glaring omissions or grammatical errors…and to help brainstorm to get a student past a sticking point. The essay is supposed to be reflective of the STUDENT, not the parent, and admissions reps are hoping to get a better picture of the applicant’s individuality and unique attributes. It is very easy for a rep to recognize an essay that has been coached (or even written by) someone other than the student. Remember that colleges have access to SAT/ACT scores (think writing tests), and similarities as well as differences can stand out.The best assistance regarding essays is to encourage the writer to answer the prompt and to keep in mind who the audience is and what the audience is hoping to gain from reading that essay…a snapshot of the STUDENT. Unfortunately, too many cooks spoil the pot, so to speak…and kids easily get confused when parents, English teachers, their counselor, and their friends all have different advice. Students should familiarize themselves with the campuses to which they are applying (audience), understand the prompt, and answer from the heart.
I do not believe that parents make good essay editors because they are not admissions officers. They do not know what admissions officers are looking for. Audience is key with these essays.
Yes, it is perfectly okay to have your parents edit your essays. However, the key is to edit, not to write them for you. They can help with typos, grammatical errors, and help you to be clear, concise and compelling. They know you best, sometimes more than you know yourself so they may have good suggestions. However, you do want the essays to sound like you; it should be your voice. There should be some consistency between the essays and interviews.
I think in today’s world it’s probably unbelievable to an admissions official that someone–parent, English teacher, essay coach, guidance counselor –DID NOT read and help “proof” the student’s essay. That DOES NOT mean that anyone should write it for you, or dictate it to you while you copy it down word for word and say you wrote it.
It simply means that most students are having some adult help proof itheir essay.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that in my experience, parents are NOT the best source of editing or proofing a student’s essay. Most parents don’t really know what the admissions office is looking for, and many parents are sufficiently removed from writing that their proofing/editing skills are not helpful.
It depends on the parents. If they read through and make light edits, grammatical and typos, yes. If the parent re-writes or writes the essay the answer is no.
Editing is a part of the writing process, like development and revision, where another person can be helpful. There is nothing theoretically wrong with that person being a parent if they are skilled and sensitive to helping while allowing the student’s own voice to remain dominant.
Having someone else proofread an applicant’s essay is fine—any writer can benefit from another set of eyes that might pick up a typo or a minor grammar mistake. However, true editing starts to move into the substantive writing process and in the end the writer of the college essay should be the applicant. Too much assistance–even from parents– however well intentioned, serves to undermine the process and raise questions about the legitimacy and integrity of the whole application. Yes, the stakes can seem high, but it is ultimately the applicant’s record and work that is being evaluated and it should be theirs that is submitted as well.
I think it is always best for a student to have an impartial person do the proofing. It is difficult for parents to remain unbiased and often it can cause a lot of added tension between the student and parent.
There’s a difference between proofreading and editing. Editing is the process of going from a rough draft to a finished essay; it deals with what you’re saying, how you say it and how you organize it. Proofreading is checking for final errors, and happens at the end of the process. You should absolutely have someone help with both stages (I have some thoughts on proofreading in another answer).
proofreading is ok, but editing the content should not happen. This is your essay, your chance to show the admissions counselor or committee your wares, not your parents. You should take ownership and pride in the essay. It needs to be authentically you.
Oh my, this is a dangerous question. If you knew many of the parents that I work with, you would be shaking your head vigorously right now. That is not to say that some parents don’t do a great job of critiquing their child’s essay(s), but significant editing or rewriting is not recommended as adult voices don’t match teenager’s voice. Parents can help their child brainstorm topics, encourage them to write multiple drafts, and help him or her meet deadlines. Some parents should not even read their kid’s essays as they want to change too many elements that make the essays lose their unique adolescent voice. I know this is the touchiest of topics, but I always beg parents to believe in their child. And then they are pleasantly surprised when admissions officers write acceptance letters with personal notes about their child’s fabulous essays.
Yes, but admissions representatives want authentic 17 and 18 year old writing. It is important that a parent only helps in editing and not actually writing the essay. I often suggest that parents be a third editor after a counselor and a peer.
Parents should always help their child in a positive way as long as they are not writing the ideas for the student. Editing is vastly different from original writing so this needs to be clarified first, as it has to be the voice and personal memories of the applicant not the parent. The sooner the family treats this as a team effort it will be much easier for the 12th grader to feel as though they are not alone in this process.
You absolutely should have a second and even third set of eyes help you edit and proofread your essay. Be sure to pick readers who have strong skills in grammar and usage. If your parents fit the bill, there’s no reason they shouldn’t help you polish your essay, but students often find it easier to work with a teacher, counselor or other adult. Parents can become emotionally involved and/or try to influence the content of the essay, which is something you DON’T want. No matter who helps to edit and proof your work, it’s essential that your writing remain your own.
College admissions essays should reflect the student’s own “voice”. They should be formulated in the way in which the student would write naturally and should be focused on issues or themes that the student has chosen as being of relevance to him-/herself. Of course, care should be taken to use and spell words correctly and to employ well-structured sentences and paragraphs, but the student should avoid using an over-abundance of words that have been pulled out of a thesaurus just to make him-/herself sound erudite. The reader can usually tell immediately when that has been done.
While a parent can serve as a proofreader for your essay and perhaps offer you a perspective on how it reads, it is never ok for the parent to author it or extensively edit it. Not only is this not ethical since it is YOUR application, but you also run the risk of putting your application into question, especially if your application essay writing style isn’t consistent with, say your SAT/ACT essay which the admissions office also has.
That’s highly recommended if they’re experts in grammar, and under NO circumstances should anyone but the student WRITE the essay!
It is certainly okay for parents to help edit their child’s essay – with the key word in that sentence being EDIT. They can help catch spelling or punctuation mistakes or help a student better clarify an idea that isn’t fully fleshed out in the early draft.
Editing for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes is fine, but don’t change the voice of the essay. If an essay is too “polished” it may seem inauthentic, creating confusion in the reader. Make sure that you are confident in your essay and accept feedback, but don’t allow others to change your essay in any way that will cause it to lose its original message.
Take a look at a statement the student must check before signing the Common Application: “I certify that all information submitted in the admission process—including the application, the personal essay, any supplements, and any other supporting materials—is my own work, factually true, and honestly presented…” Does that mean that you cannot have an English teacher review the grammar? No, in my view, checking the mechanics with a knowledgeable expert is part of being a conscientious applicant. But when parents start “re-writing,” it becomes a slippery slope.
Take a look at a statement the student must check before signing the Common Application: “I certify that all information submitted in the admission process—including the application, the personal essay, any supplements, and any other supporting materials—is my own work, factually true, and honestly presented…” Does that mean that you cannot have an English teacher or a parent review the grammar? No, in my view, checking the mechanics with a knowledgeable expert is part of being a conscientious applicant. But when parents start “re-writing,” it becomes a slippery slope.
yes, it is ok as long as an essay of their child reflects inner world of the child, not that of parents.
yes, it is ok as long as an essay of their child reflects the inner world of the child, not that of parents.
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