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When Sue O’Connell’s daughter asked her to take a peek at the college admissions essay she’d written, the Chicago-area mom had no problem telling her to go back to the drawing board and start the whole process over.
They’re not going to write what’s really in your heart.” Not to mention the ethical issues that come with an essay that’s purchased outright.
Paying for something and representing it as your child’s subverts the admissions process as a whole, giving kids an unfair advantage, says Carrie James, an ethicist with the Good Project at Harvard University.
Often those kids are in public schools where the counselors on staff just can’t keep up — not surprising when you consider the average public high school guidance counselor manages a caseload of 476 kids.
The fact that those public school counselors exist at all should give some direction to parents who are unsure whether it’s okay to give — or pay for — essay help.
Some 30 percent of public schools employ at least one counselor whose exclusive responsibility is to provide college counseling.
Adelphi’s Espina says admissions officers do expect kids to get some help with their essay, usually from a guidance counselor, an English teacher or a parent, or even from the college.“My counseling training has taught me to ask lots of open-ended questions,” says Ethan Sawyer, who counsels students on essay writing and goes by “the College Essay Guy” online.Instead of asking, “Did your parents’ divorce make you sad? ” “I also teach students basic screenwriting structure, as it’s a pretty efficient way of not only showing them how stories work but also getting them to think visually,” Sawyer says.For parents who want to go even further, type “college essay” into Fiverr — an online marketplace to find freelancers to do just about anything for you — and dozens of responses pop up, offers ranging from ‘I will edit your college essay” to the more carefully worded “I will perfectly handle your college essay.” Other sites are less cagey, blatantly offering to sell you an admissions essay for less than .“I think that is a terrible trend and a risky trend,” O’Connell says of buying your kid an entire essay.Kids have to sell themselves without sounding selfish or arrogant.Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of other kids are doing the same exact thing at the same exact time, all trying to stand out.“Personal statements are short films.” Sawyer has gotten requests to write the essay outright, but he’s turned them down.Mostly, he sees kids who just need a little help, some prompting to get started or proofreading on the back end.Just 500 to 700 words long, the admissions essay is make-it-or-break-it for your average high school senior.They have to be unique but poignant, smart but not smart-alecky.