Writing the College Admissions Essay: Last Minute Changes

The day students submit their college application essay brings intense feelings of accomplishment , joy and yes, relief. But it is also a time of danger. As they read their essay one last time, students are sometimes tempted to make one last tweak, change one last word, delete a phrase that never felt right to them, or even redo the entire ending. Yet, while this can certainly work out fine and improve the essay somewhat, it also risks sending the essay off with typos or other mistakes. Once you’ve done ten drafts and read an essay fifty times (you are working that hard, aren’t you?), the eye can easily glaze over certain portions of it. And if, in making your last minute change, something else moves around, a period is accidentally deleted, a misspelling creeps in, etc., there’s a chance you won’t catch it.

So, here’s my advice. First and foremost, try not to submit on the last possible day. You’ll be tired, stressed, and more prone to making mistakes. Should you want to make last minute changes, give them a day or two to “marinate,” then read the essay again to determine if the change was worth making. You can always go back to the original if you see that they aren’t. If, however, you have waited until the last day, and you’ve been reasonably happy with the essay up until then, I’d say be extremely reticent to do any last minute rewriting at that time.

But what, you might ask, if I honestly feel I can improve the essay? Am I supposed to ignore that out of fear? No, you’re not. By all means give your change a shot, but be sure to have someone else take a glance at the essay, with your recent changes. Then read it again yourself – slowly, or even better, out loud – to make sure the essay is clean of errors before you submit. That should help you catch any errors that have suddenly sprung up, like mushrooms after a rain, upon the golden meadow of your essay.

You’ve worked hard on your essays, there’s a lot at stake. The last thing you want to do is make the last thing you do compromise that in any way.

For more personal help with the college application essay, please contact Craig Heller directly at 818-340-1276 or CraigH4158@aol.com.

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