GRAMMAR POLICE: "Practically Perfect" (Mary Poppins) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lODD_A3kz2g
Okay, guys. I hate to do this, but I need to put on my teacher hat for a moment. (I don't think teachers actually wear hats, but I'm sure you're picking up what I'm putting down.)
Here's the thing:
YOUR GRAMMAR AND SPELLING IN YOUR COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY MUST, MUST, MUST BE PRACTICALLY PERFECT IN EVERY WAY!
You may be rolling your eyes and saying, "What's a little mix-up between 'there' and 'their' between friends?" While I don't think your entire acceptance hinges on one spelling error, I do know that mistakes cast a shadow on your application. For example, if your transcript says that you've taken Honors English since freshman year but your essay has several grammatical errors, then an admissions officer might assume that either your grades were inflated or your mom was giving you a little too much help on those final papers. Don't give the admissions department a single reason to doubt your school smarts.
What can you do to perfect your essay? Start with the spelling and grammar check in Microsoft Word, but don't stop there. Have your mother read it, your father, your best friend, your aunt who's really smart, a writing coach like me...and then read it again by yourself in a room with no distractions. No TV, no iPhone, no music. You honestly cannot review the technical elements of your paper enough. If it gets to the point that the letters start swimming on the page and you can no longer remember if the comma goes before or after the "but," then take a break. Read it again after you've let your brain rest.
Just remember, the admissions team is doing you a favor by allowing you a generous amount of time to complete your essay, so make sure you are submitting A+ work.
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