By Kim Lifton
Wow Writing Workshop
The night before last year’s early college application deadline, a friend called me in a panic.
What if her son didn’t get into his top choice college because his essay lacked sophistication, or sounded like an immature 17-year-old boy?
Her son’s essay was finished, and very good. I had already reviewed his final draft. His story about the night he learned to “just let it go” while doing a stand-up routine in a city comedy club, was so genuine and hit the mark; it sounded like a smart 17-year-old wrote it. I loved the story because he answered the prompt, demonstrated insight and wrote it himself. His high school counselor liked it too.
But as the deadline neared, his mom began to freak out. She passed the essay around to other adults she trusted, even though none of them knew anything about the college admissions process, or the essay’s role within it. Even worse, these adults were super critical, calling the writing immature, just not good, pedestrian.
She took the criticism to heart, marking the essay up, suggesting word changes and rewriting complete sentences. Without knowing it, my friend took her son’s voice away.
don’t follow my friend’s lead
Please don’t follow my friend’s lead. Instead, let us guide you so you can help your own child without overstepping your role. We don’t want your journey to be so daunting.
Fortunately, I was able to calm my friend, convincing her to ditch her version and encourage her son to submit his original essay. I remained focused on what was best for her son: feeling confident. With his own essay, he got the results he wanted: admission to his first-choice college, SUNY Binghamton.
Help Your Child Write a college Essay
At Wow, we believe parents like you play an important role in the college application journey. Success on the essay begins at home — sooner rather than later — and with you, the parent, as the guide. You know your son or daughter better than anyone else. Who else would go to the moon and back to help your child prosper as an adult?
The best thing you can do is help your child reflect before they start writing that first college application essay draft.
While there is no rubric for a good college essay, the ones that stand out and are most effective share a few common features. Regardless of the prompt, they:
- Answer the question
- Showcase a positive trait or characteristic
- Sound like a high school student
- Illustrate something meaningful about the student
- Demonstrate reflection
get a jump on the college application PROCESS
We can help you if you and your child get a jump on the college essay. Our coaches book up quickly, so you’ll want to reserve yours before it’s too late. You can reserve a private coach now to work with your child throughout the season with the purchase of just 1 complete essay writing package. Learn more.
Kim Lifton is President of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communication and writing services company that is a leading expert on the college application essay. Kim, a former journalist, speaks with senior admissions officers from the nation’s most selective colleges all the time. Wow works directly with students, and trains school counselors, English teachers and independent educational consultants who want to improve their essay-coaching skills. Wow also offers professional communication and writing services to businesses and nonprofits.