Just last week I got a call from a mom about her son who is a senior in high school. She said that he needed help with an essay. By the end of the conversation I had agree help him. The essay was emailed to me right away and we met the next day to go over ways to improve what he had written. There were many, many ways to improve upon the document I received.
The essay I received had been loaded onto Google Docs and his family and friends had been offering suggestions on his original document. The word count was well over 900 for the 650 word essay and several parts had duplicate sections that apparently were suggestions from previous helpers. It was a bonafide mess. We reviewed everything remotely connected to the essay for over an hour and I sent him home to work on the improvements we discussed. Before 9:00 the next morning, I had received three emails and four phone messages requesting another meeting. The student was in a panic because the application had to be submitted today.
After reading and listening to all his messages, it became apparent that he had received the same sort of advice about his applications as he had received with his essay. It took a couple tries but I was finally able to convince him that he could request his transcripts before submitting his application and that the deadline for the school in question was not November 1st but December 1st. The cherry on tip of this whole drama is that he has about a 2% chance of getting accepted to the college in question…
This little episode made me wonder how many hundreds or likely thousands of seniors out there are just getting started with their essays and applications and are getting advice that does more harm than good. Other clients of mine have already received multiple acceptance letters and the applications and essays are a distant memory.
How are so many college-bound students so clueless about the admissions process? It seems that every news and media outlet is constantly talking about it and I know the high schools are preaching college-readiness nonstop. If you are in high school or a parent of a kid in high school, start planning now – don’t care if you are a freshman. Have a plan and start practicing for that senior year so when the flames break out, you have already started using a shampoo that is fortified with scotch guard.