Neither Hear nor Their: The Importance of Editing Essays


“Their is nothing worse then using bad grammer and forgetting to spell check you’re college essays.” If you are just as frustrated as I am reading that poorly written sentence, imagine how college admission folks feel whilst reading hundreds of applications, many just as bad as or worse.

As you head toward the finish line of the application race, it’s important to remember that colleges do much more than browse your completed applications…they actually read them! For this reason it’s imperative that you spend just as much time reviewing your essays as you did deciding on the topics on which you have written.

However, reviewing can’t be left to the spell check fairies on your Mac or PC…you need real sets of eyes to be set on your would-be opus. That’s right, “sets”, as in more than one person. A few people you can approach about helping you with the review process are your parents, teachers, family members and, while you’re at it, why not ask your friends, too? You can return the favor by hosting a “Bring Your Own Essay” proofreading party!

In all seriousness, the effect that grammatical and spelling errors have on the perception an admission officer has of you can be significant. Make sure your essay is free of factual errors as well. If you don’t know for sure what year the first seedless watermelon was grown, it’s best not to write on that topic. Choose a topic that doesn’t need much, or any, outside research.

Colleges are hoping to learn about you, not how adept you are at garnering information from Wikipedia. Yet another error that has plagued prospective students is the “Why I want to go to ABC College” essay that is submitted to XYZ College. Colleges know that, most likely, you’re seeing other schools…this just isn’t the way to let them find out.

One final suggestion: make it interesting! Admission folks spend immeasurable amounts of time reading essays that mirror other essays in terms of topic and scope. The essay is the one section of your application in which you can truly make yourself stand out and be noticed in the pool of applicants. Use your voice and be yourself…remember that you’re the prospective student, your proofreaders are not. However, they may have been in your shoes at some point and will feel proud that you’ve included them in your “Proofing Party!”

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