There aren’t many rising high school seniors who enjoy the process of writing the college essay, but, let’s face it, it is a necessary evil. Happily, you don’t need to go it alone on the journey to write your college essay. But how much help should you have? How much is too much? Should you hire a college essay coach?
While you may be asked to write on a series of potential topics, there are similarities in all of the possible subjects. All of these questions will be asking you to share something about yourself. To give your reader a view into who you are and what makes you tick.
For many people (including yours truly), writing about yourself can be painful. Am I bragging? Does this sound boastful? Do they care? It’s really hard to have some perspective. Thus, there are three main areas where having someone assist you can be extremely beneficial.
Experience with college admission essays
Chances are pretty high that you, as a student, have not written a whole lot of college essays in your life. This can make the task seem a bit daunting–what should you say? How should it sound?
One of the biggest benefits of having guidance from a college essay coach is that they’ve gone through the process. They’ve probably read dozens or even hundreds of college essays. This experience can be invaluable in knowing the nuances of how to write something great.
Sometimes, at 17 or 18 years old, it’s very difficult to have perspective on your own life. It’s hard to realize what you do that is unique or interesting. That’s because it’s something you’ve incorporated into your own life. It may be very helpful to bounce some ideas off of someone else. Especially, someone who knows something about both you and how to write a college essay. Someone who knows you well might be able to help you reflect and discern the aspects of your life that are worth mentioning.
Proofreading and editing
Ask any employer who has ever had to hire someone how they feel about getting a resume or cover letter with a glaring grammatical error in it. It is a clear negative reflection on the care (or lack of which) of the writer if they send in an application/resume with mis-spelling(s), capitalization error(s), or simple grammatical mistakes. Most people in the workforce are likely to tell you that they’ve never sent out a resume without it being proofread.
Again, even just having a basic level of guidance–a second set of eyes–can make a big difference.
To the exact question about whether or not you should hire someone to help you, I would say, it depends. If you can adequately get the help from someone you know, there is no magic to paying someone to help you.
On the other hand, if this process is becoming stressful and involving your parents has become a source of friction instead of a positive resource, it may be time to look elsewhere for assistance. Before you write that check, however, think about your guidance counselor or a trusted teacher who may well have experience with this and who may be willing and able to help you.
The most important part of writing your college essay, however, is that it is your words, your thoughts and your voice–not someone else’s. College admission officers are often very adept at spotting the work of a ringer. Only choose someone who will help you better articulate your own ideas and arguments. Someone who will NOT do it for you. This will not serve you well and could easily backfire.
Use the college essay process as a learning moment. Think about yourself, what you want to say about yourself, and how to say it that is interesting and engaging. Then make sure you’re presenting yourself well. The skills you learn from this process will only help you as you move through your college years.