Is Your Application Balanced? Punctuated Correctly?

Application deadlines for selective colleges begin January 1, so I’m seeing a lot of last minute editing. New this year for me is the number of students who have a passion that has worked its way into every essay. Their passions are worthy -- beloved relatives with catastrophic illnesses, race relations, third world poverty. Their strongest passions, however, ought not be central to the Common Application’s long and short essays, plus the two (or more) supplemental essays. Last night I was still working on this idea with one student.

I told her, and I’ll share here, that it is a good idea to print the entire application, lay it out on a table, and see the collective impact of the compositions. Do you sound like a one-note Charlie? Do you seem that you are so passionate about something that you haven’t taken an interest in anything else? Do you look like someone who can contribute to and take advantage of a broader curriculum and co-curricular life? Do you sound like someone who is open minded? Does one essay speak to something entirely different about yourself?

While you need to think about the totality of your essays, remember to think about the mechanics. Spelling? Punctuation? Grammar? Sentence structure? Paragraph structure? These are still important! Don’t be shy about asking a good writer whom you trust to look over your application.