Wednesday, April 3, 2013

To Read Your Child's College Application Essay--Or Not

There is no end to the ethical, emotional, and grammatical issues that the world of the college essay brings up, all of them fraught and consequential. I frequently come across this one with my clients - Should I show my parents my essay? - and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

I often advise the students to wait until they have what we think is a close-to-finished draft. But sometimes students don't ask my opinion and show their parents the essays. Sometimes the parents look at them - on a computer, say - before they've gotten permission from their children. It's occasionally happened that after I've given students comments on an essay, they'll come back with my version and their parents' version - and that's complicated: Whom should the student listen to? The parents or me? I don't like putting students in that bind.

This new piece on Huffington Post, "Is It a Parent's Right to Read Their Kid's College Essay?" is about an applicant who refuses to let his parents see his essay. His father agrees with him; his mother does not. Strife ensues. My reaction is that for this student, his position made sense, but that it might not for all students. High school seniors are in a tender, complicated place, one foot in childhood, one foot in adulthood. Boundaries rise and fall; tempers flare. There is a lot at stake in these essays.

Read the article and let me know what you think!

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