(Re)writing college essays

CMC 2017

Good writing is rewriting.

Truman Capote

Typically, high school students write one draft of an essay the night before the assignment is due amidst the myriad other homework assignments. Thus, drafting and editing and revising of each sentence happens simultaneously. But, typically, in writing college essays, drafting, editing, and revising are three separate steps, repeated multiple times per essay, as the stakes are greater and writing one’s life story is complicated.

For many college applicants, drafting a college essay can strike every nerve, test every last shred of patience, tax every brain cell to the point of seeming implosion. Thus, the pressure to “Get Done” will increase, as a means to seemingly stop the anxiety and discomfort of working to reflect on one’s past and define their vision.

And, the “Submit” button on the online college application will start blinking, like the warning lights on a car dashboard. Yet, being done with the college essay and finishing the college essay are not the same.

Applicants can cut the writing process short and submit the college essay in an impulsive flourish of clicks. However, once the relief of “being done” passes (and generally, it passes just as suddenly as the impulse arose), the potential regrets of “Oh, no, there’s a spelling error! I should’ve done another review. I’ll never get into college now!” or “Uh, oh! Can I get it back? I have more ideas to add, so the admissions officer understands me”, can suddenly overtake the applicant.

On the other hand, carefully considering each word and sentence, crafting a college essay over multiple drafts and multiple weeks to capture the essence of an applicant in their own voice, while articulating their life’s purpose based on an understanding of their inherent aptitude, is the recipe for finishing an essay. Then, no matter the outcome, an acceptance or denial, the applicant is assured they did everything possible, as well as have developed a map to guide their decisions no matter where they attend college.

There are no advantages for submitting college applications a week before the deadline, just as there are no penalties for submitting in the minutes before the deadline closes. From efforts over seventeen years of life, including eleven school years of homework, late nights, tests, inane assignments, extracurricular commitments, and boring teachers, students have earned the opportunity to fight with the keyboard, drafting the magnum opus (to date) of their young life. A few extra moments, days or hours to refine such a quintessential written tale seems not only prudent but honors the gravitas of endeavoring to come of age.


To learn more about Creative Marbles Consultancy’s collaborative college admissions essay editorial advising, contact us at creativemarbles.com

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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