Last spring The Ethicist tackled a question posed by a high school English teacher which basically asked, “Can my editing give a false impression of the student’s work to admissions officers?”
Randy Cohen responded that, of course, students should be submitting their own work on college applications, but we at College Basics liked another quote from this article. It was Jeffery Brenzel’s statement that struck us. Jeffery, who is a Dean of Undergraduate Admission at Yale, said, “I would think it foolish of a student not to have an essay proofed for spelling, grammar and syntax by someone competent to do so.” Indeed!
What students should be worried about is the content of their college essay. Admissions wants a better idea of who you are, and the essay allows them a window into you in such a way. Therefore, the content should be sincere and about your thoughts and actions. It should be said in your voice. But, even published authors have editors. Why not say what you want to say in the best way possible? (See our article about editing and revisions.)
College admissions professionals can ascertain if a high school student or a professional adult writer has written the essay. And, there are comparisons they can make between your college essay and your SAT writing sample or other high school papers they may request, so, of course, high school applicants should not use essay writing services. Still, there are editors, teachers, and parents, who can help judge whether or not your college essay is clear, well-stated, or correct. It is not only perfectly fine that you use them; it is actually wise that you use them.