Magellan’s 10 Commandments of College Essays

I.  Thou shalt not allow your parents (or anyone else!) to write your essays, in whole or in part, for you.  College admission counselors know the difference between a 17-year old’s writing, and an adult’s.  It is not in your best interest to have anyone else write your essays for you – only YOU can share your voice with colleges.

II.  Thou shalt share your essays via Google Docs with no more than 5 people, including your parents.

III.  Thou shalt INSIST that EVERYONE who has access to your essays make comments or edits in suggesting mode, and shalt not allow anyone, parent or otherwise, to accept or reject anyone’s suggestions or edits.  YOU are the only one who can make these decisions about YOUR college essays.

IV.  Thou shalt remember that college essays are entirely different from essays you write for English class, and therefore the rules are different.  Therefore, thou shalt not be constrained by those same English class essay rules.

V.  Thou shalt revise essays while preserving previous versions, just in case what you wrote the first time is as awesome as you thought it was when you wrote it.

VI.  Thou shalt not assume that what you wrote the first time is actually awesome, nor will be the final draft of your college essays.

VII.  Thou shalt let your essay(s) sit for at least 24 hours – but a week is better – after you think they are final.  Time and distance can help you and anyone else who reviews them see your essays with fresh eyes.

VIII.  The passive voice shall not be used.  (Dost thou see how much less powerful and effective that sounds?)

IX.  Thou shalt concern thouself (?!) only with being authentic, memorable and likeable and not with figuring out “what they want to hear.”

X.  Thou shalt respond to the prompt, and within the word limit given.  We know this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised.

XI.  Bonus commandment:  Thou shalt refer to our previous post with college essay brainstorming resources, here, and also here.

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