Is it okay for parents to help edit their child's college essay?

Application Process

Our counselors answered:

Is it okay for parents to help edit their child's college essay?

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Editing the Essay

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.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Parents and The Essay

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.

Erica White
College & Career Counselor Middletown High School

Is it okay for parents to help edit their child's college essay?

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. However, parents should not try to change the voice of the student, which can be difficult to refrain from. The essay needs to be a reflection of the student's creativity, writing ability and personality; not the parent.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

it's OK but it's not the best option

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.

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours

Take a big breath and ask someone else to help.

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.

Corey Fischer
President CollegeClarity

Not ideal

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. It is, however, a good idea for the parents to help the student brainstorm ideas for the essay prior to writing it.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Whose Essay Is This, Anyway?

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.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

Yes of course, parents should be helping!

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.

Geoff Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener University

proofread yes, edit, no

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.

Cheryl Millington

Is it okay for parents to help edit their child's college essay?

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.