college application submission timeAn Essay Specialist’s Story

Here’s a skit. It’s called “A Common Occurrence in the Life of an Essay Specialist in Autumn” and is based on real events:

An essay specialist and his student work together for the majority of the summer and fall, brainstorming, drafting, and polishing a personal statement, along with countless supplemental essays in hopes of submitting holistic college applications. These apps are supposed to showcase the eclecticism, interests, and myriad strengths of the student while painting a picture of why they, as an applicant, would make an ideal candidate for the university to which they are applying.

Though there have been stumbling blocks, perhaps fueled by scheduling miscues and the stress of the student’s senior year, the essay specialist is pleased with the work that their student has produced. Their personal statement is funny (like, really funny) while still establishing a connection of trust between authorial voice and reader that carries the student’s message through, and the supplements each do their job.

The “Why Our School?” essays are well-researched, avoiding most of the awkwardness that usually accompanies such an alien writing task in the minds of 17-year-olds. The questions about diversity have been answered with grace. The fun and quirky prompts have garnered some laughs and helped produce a genuine picture of what the student loves in life.

However, right when it is time to turn in all of this material, to reap the harvest of what has surely been an arduous growing season, the applicant starts to second-guess their process. The weight of the moment, of all the hard work that they have done, begins to crush the walls of their resolve.

Days, hours, minutes before their deadlines, they email their essay specialists ghastly phrases like, “I started to realize that I actually don’t really like the entire thing,” and “I was thinking that I should redo the content in the second part.” But this is not the diligent student speaking. This is the anxiety that has manifested in that student’s head, that is now running wild at the anointed time of irreversible judgement.

Okay. You probably realized pretty quickly that this is not just a skit. But it is a very common situation for essay specialists like me. Students will churn out wonderful, confident writing until it is time to submit their college applications. However, when that time comes, they will act like nothing they’ve said makes sense.

Simple Advice for Your College Application

If you’ve read to this point, you probably have someone in mind who could benefit from the simple advice that forms the thesis of this piece: come submission time, one should check for spelling, formatting, and flow, NOT necessarily for content.

Oftentimes, would-be applicants will slap together a draft, paste it into the Common App with the rest of their information, and then deem their application “ready for review.” However, one should be sure of the content and polish of their essay before pasting it from their preferred word processor into the actual application software.

This strategy will help prevent second-guessing come submission time by instilling confidence in the applicant that they’ve already done their best work. With this in mind, they will be able to compartmentalize the proof-reading of their spelling, formatting, and flow in their essays and the other questions on their application platform.

Don’t Doubt Yourself When it Comes to Your College Application

If you’ve put honest work into your college application process, then your content will be sure to shine through. Don’t paralyze yourself with self-doubt right at the end. You’ve done it. Use your remaining time to make sure that a spelling error doesn’t smudge the paint on the glowing portrait you’ve created. Then, celebrate a job well-done! If you have any questions about the college application process, please contact us.