Asking for personal essay feedback from friends

When applying to new programs, schools, and to scholarships, you frequently find yourself tasked with writing a number of personal application essays. While this can begin to feel like a chore, and many students rush through the process, it’s much wiser to take your time and ensure that you do a great job on these important assignments. After all, getting into the program or receiving the scholarship you need are very important aspects of your academic career.

One of the best things you can do to be certain that your essays are of high quality is to enlist the help of friends. There are a number of ways in which friends and family can help you with personal essays.

  • Topics
  • No one knows more about you (other than you!) than your friends and family. Not only do they know a lot about you, but they can often offer you a unique perspective on the topics and essay themes you’re required to write for personal essays.

  • Opinions on rough drafts
  • Writing personal essays is a double edged sword. On the one hand, you have a topic about which you know plenty to write about. On the other, it can be difficult to write about yourself in a way that’s both modest and flattering, authentic and accessible. By having your friends and family read over your rough drafts and offer constructive criticism, you get the best of both worlds.

  • Editing
  • After writing, editing is the most difficult task you’ll face. Editing one’s own work is often counter productive. After all, the very things that need to be edited and changed are probably things you do habitually when writing, so you won’t see them in the same light that your friends will. Having one or two friends mark up your essay for editing can be enormously helpful.

  • Proofreading
  • Much as with editing, proofreading is difficult to do with one’s own papers. That’s because your brain engages in a sort of auto correct mode when reading writing you’ve written yourself. That is, since you know what you meant to write, that’s what you see—so catching grammar errors, punctuation mistakes, and misspellings can be very difficult. Those mistakes, however, will stick out like a sore thumb to the committee that reads your application, so you need to get them fixed. The solution? Get a second pair of eyes on the job—ask a friend!

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