The College Scoops Podcast

Episode 90: Keep Your Hands Off My Essays!

September 21, 2021

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As a parent who has just launched her third and last child to college, I know how tempting it is to “help” edit kids’ essays. What starts out as a simple suggestion turns into something like “ What if you just wrote something like …” All of the good natured advice and guidance has turned into “our” essay. Parents try to guide and help students but it is really important that the essay is truly the students voice and their own piece of work. Evelyn Jermone-Alexander joins us today as she has some tips, advice, and stories to share about how parents can support their students in the essay writing arena.

Key Takeaways:

  • Let your children come up with their own essay topic
  • The essay should sound and feel like your student
    • It is good for this essay to be conversational
  • Remember the audience who is reading the essay
  • All students are different on if they want to share their essay with you or not
  • If parents are constantly interfering in the process of their essay, it makes your teen feel as though they are not capable
  • If you let your parents access your essay, put them in “Suggesting” mode
  • College essays are different from high school essays!
  • The topic is important, but what is MORE important is how they are changed and moved because of that experience 
  • When reading the essay, look at it wholly, do NOT nit-pick and look at the grammar. What is it telling you? What do you learn about your child as you read through it?
  • Ignore the word limit at first, you can cut off things later. Write the story first.
  • Essay writing is a process, it will take time and it will take a lot of edits
  • Don’t wait until the last minute
  • It is not always easy to write the essay
  • Let them write the story, it may start ugly, but that is not how it will look at the end 

Important Resources and Links:

Magellan College Counseling

Meet Evelyn Jerome-Alexander

Magellan College Counseling

Evelyn Jerome-Alexander has brought a student-centered, stress-reducing approach to guiding students and families through the college search and application journey for ten years.  While her clients are frequently admitted to the most highly selective colleges, she considers the truest success to be when her students thrive at colleges that fit their academic, social and emotional needs – and their parents’ budget.  

Evelyn founded Magellan College Counseling in 2011 after spending 15 years as a volunteer admissions recruiter for Johns Hopkins University.  A recognized expert on the nuances of college admission, she regularly presents webinars and workshops and is frequently interviewed for news articles.  Evelyn has presented at over a dozen national college admission conferences and has personally visited over 350 colleges.  

Evelyn holds a Bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, a Master’s degree from George Washington University, and a Certificate in College Counseling from UCLA.  In addition to carrying a moderate caseload of students herself, Evelyn manages a talented team of IECs around the U.S., and teaches in UC Berkeley’s College Admission Advising certificate program.  She is one of only a few dozen Certified Educational Planners in California.

Thank you Evelyn for joining us today to provide guidance for parents as their kids start to write their college essays and personal statements. It is hard not to jump in and offer our advice and ideas for everything from picking a topic, to grammatical suggestions, all the way through to the conclusion. But, the college essay is an opportunity for students to share their story, through their own unique voice and their experiences in a way that will stand out in the applicant pool. We have taught our kids throughout their lives to advocate for themselves, learn to learn and to take risks. We need to support them as a co-pilot as they write their essays and provide them resources and tools if they need help along the way.

Episode 90 Full Transcript

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College Scoops Staff, Author

College Scoops has a team of college interns who share their insights and expertise with our community. Our team consists of editors, writers, videographers, social media experts, and storytellers who work hard to produce relevant and interesting content for students (and parents) whether they are applying to, attending or graduating from college.

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