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The Eleventh-Hour Essay Edit

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

November 15th deadlines are looming on the horizon, and I want to dedicate this post to all the high school seniors who are feverishly writing and rewriting their college essays. I’d like to share a few last-minute essay editing tips and strategies that will help to make the essays shine.

Before I finalize or sign off on a student’s essay, I make sure to review it three times: Once for content, next for structure and tone, and finally for presentation. I encourage you to do the same. And here are a few questions you can ask yourself in the process:

Editing for content:

  • Have I answered each sub-question of the essay prompt?

  • Am I demonstrating at least 5-7 skills/values in my essay?

  • Are those skills/values unique (not emphasized elsewhere in the application)?

  • Is the essay mainly about me and my experiences or about someone else and their experiences?

Editing for structure and tone:

  • Do I have an interesting hook in place?

  • Do my paragraphs begin with good transition sentences?

  • Does my essay follow a logical sequence of events/ideas?

  • Am I coming across authentically (not forcing myself to be someone I’m not)?

Editing for Presentation:

  • Have I used specific details to bring my essay to life?

  • Am I avoiding cliches?

  • Are my ideas coming across clearly and succinctly?

  • Is my essay grammatically correct?

By breaking down the editing process into three distinct steps, you can focus on each critical element at a time. This helps to make the process feel less overwhelming, while simultaneously ensuring a compelling product at the end.

Happy ̶w̶̶r̶̶i̶̶t̶̶i̶̶n̶̶g̶ rewriting!

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