College Essay Writing Service

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

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Our counselors answered:

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

40questions in this category

Cat McManus
Assistant Dean of Admissions
University of Pennsylvania

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

Here is my video response to the question.

Helen H. Choi
Owner
Admissions Mavens

Yes (and no)

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?

So — yes — it’s fine to take a quick read to look for spelling errors, but it’s not fine to write your child’s essay for him or her.

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.

Rebecca Joseph
Executive Director & Founder
getmetocollege.org

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

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.

Chris Powers
College Counselor and Philosophy Teacher
Powers College Counseling

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

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.

Lora Lewis
Educational Consultant
Lora Lewis Consulting

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

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.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager
Educational Advisory Services, LLC

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

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.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner
Princeton College Consulting, LLC

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

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.

Many times however, when a parent tries to help, they do more harm than good. It is very easy to spot an essay that has been overly edited by a parent and that is not good for the students chances of admission.

Kristina Dooley
Independent Educational Consultant
Estrela Consulting

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

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!