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I was given a rubric of qualities for the essay, and I was told that the essay had to score a certain point at that rubric,” he said.
The shape they were brought to me in was essentially unreadable.
“I do the help that I can, but I say to the parents, ‘You know, you did not prepare her for this. Because obviously, the skills necessary to be at Columbia—she doesn’t have those skills.”The Daily Beast reached out to numerous college planning and tutoring programs and the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, but none responded to requests to discuss their policies on editing versus rewriting.
The American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers also declined comment, and top universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Brown did not respond or declined comment on how they guard against essays being written by counselors or tutors.
In the admissions process, there’s a high premium on the personal statement, a 500-word essay submitted through the Common Application, about some foible or lesson, which aims to give readers a better sense of the student than, say, a standardized test score.
More than one university and advising blog rank the essay among the “most important” aspects of the process; one consultant writing in described it as “the purest part of the application.” But while test scores are completed by the student alone—barring bribed proctors, that is—any number of people can alter an essay before submission, opening it up to exploitation and less-than-pure tactics at the hands of helicopter parents or expensive college-prep counselors who cater to the 1 percent.