Research + News

Should Parents Help with the College Essay?

motherlode-essays-blog480Writing for The New York Times, former independent college applications counselor and author of the novel Early Decision, Lacy Crawford, discusses the parents’ role in the college essay process. Crawford’s advice is the title of her article: “Let Go of the College Essay, and Let Your Teenager Speak for Herself.” She writes:

“Nothing bedevils students and their parents so much as the personal statement, the 650-word essay at the center of the Common Application and others, which is meant to contain multitudes: to be winning but not pretentious, rigorous but not dull, authentic but not naïve. It is not a genre that is taught in school — not a book report or a history paper, this, nor a diary entry — it’s a form of memoir,  a first-person essay that requires the writer to stand at some distance from himself and say what is true. And drafting it can be hell…

So what can a parent do? Perhaps you can tell your high school senior the things you most admire in her, list qualities and experiences, in case anything kindles. Perhaps you can say, What would you write if you knew we would never read it? and stand by that offer. You can just provide privacy and a cup of tea.”

Read the full article here.