Processing Red Ink

by Mark Wong on December 30, 2010 · 1 comment

in Admissions

There’s nothing like touching up an essay you think is perfect, sending it to one of your reviewers, and seeing it covered in red comment updates when they return it.  I guess one thing I’ve learned from this process is that everyone seems to know how to use the “track changes” feature in Microsoft Word now.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely value the feedback.  It’s definitely improved my essays and at the end of the day, I’m still the head chef: I get to decide what goes out.  But no matter how many times I go through this, it’s always an arduous experience.  Most of the updates are small, such as grammar catches and rephrasing suggestions.  However, some point a big question mark at your entire essay and make you think about whether you’re going in the right direction.

Up to this point, I’ve only trashed one essay completely, and that was only so I could use the example in another essay within the same app.  But I’m getting to a point where I realize that my essays will never be perfect.  No matter how many times I revise a 300 word count essay, there will always be some flaw that some person can point out.  I’ve accepted that.  But before I head into the final leg of updates this weekend, I think I’m going to focus less on the technical aspects and more on whether my essays stand out.  You can write the most technically sound essay in the world, but if it’s not interesting, you’re just going to be another essay out of the thousands the adcom needs to read.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Aristotle CircleNo Gravatar January 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Your point is a great one. It reminds me of the saying, “too many cooks.” When choosing readers/editors for your admissions essays it is more important to choose the right critic — someone who has insight into what the school is looking for.

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