How To Comment On A College Essay

Explanation 19.12.2019

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Be sure to point out some positive things about the paper. Most papers have at least a few things that the student has done well. Good insights, analysis, use of quotations, an effective title, good use of personal examples--these are a few items you might mention. Sometimes you will have to stretch a little, since some papers show little thought and are grammatical and stylistic messes. But do try to find something good--without being sarcastic: "Nice choice of font! You can usually claim to have found something "interesting" or perhaps "provocative" that the student has said. Intermix positive and negative comments. It's usually best to begin with a positive comment about the paper, then mention a criticism, then another positive, and so on. The intermixture helps the student accept the criticisms and shows that you have a balanced response to the paper. Don't use subordination, or "but" or "however" transitions unless transitioning from negative to positive. That is, never say, "This essay has some good ideas in it, but. I would suggest, having read dozens of essays alongside some admissions officers and interviewed many others, that they can often distinguish the voice of a young person from that of someone who, say, has put a few more miles on the odometer. Is it possible to put one over on them? Thus, before you start reading and commenting on a stack of papers, remind yourself of the grading criteria, the learning objectives, and which aspects of the writing you want to focus on in your response. Writing Comments in the Margins 1 The first time you read through a paper, try to hold off on writing comments. Instead, take the time to read the paper in its entirety. If you need to take some notes, do so on another piece of paper. This strategy will prevent you from making over-hasty judgments, such as faulting a student for omitting evidence that actually appears later in the paper. In such cases, it may be appropriate to tell the student that you expected that evidence to be presented earlier—and the reason why. Do not tell students how YOU would write the paper. Instead, tell them how you are responding to each part of the paper as you read it, pointing out gaps in logic or support and noting confusing language where it occurs. For example, if a sentence jumps abruptly to a new topic, do not rewrite the sentence to provide a clear transition or tell the student how to rewrite it. Instead, simply write a note in the margin to indicate the problem, then prompt the student to come up with a solution. Of course, in some instances, it is necessary and appropriate to give the student explicit directions, such as when she or he seems to have missed something important about the assignment, misread a source, left out an essential piece of evidence, or failed to cite a source correctly. Don't just write about your resume, recommendations, and high school transcripts. Admissions officers want to know about you, your personality and emotions. For example, let them know what hobbies, interests, or passions you have. Do you excel in athletics or art? Let them know why you excel in those areas. It's so important to just be yourself and write in a manner that lets your personality shine through. This college essay tip is by College Basic Team. Find a way to showcase yourself without bragging. Being confident is key, but you don't want to come across as boasting. Next, let them know how college will help you achieve your long-term goals. Help them connect the dots and let them know you are there for a reason. This will not only help you stand out from other applicants, but it will also prepare you for the college interview ahead of time as well. Be real. As a former college admissions officer, I read thousands of essays—good and bad. The essays that made the best impressions on me were the essays that were real. The students did not use fluff, big words, or try to write an essay they thought admission decisions makers wanted to read. The essays that impressed me the most were not academic essays, but personal statements that allowed me to get to know the reader. I was always more likely to admit or advocate for a student who was real and allowed me to get to know them in their essay. Skip the moral-of-the-story conclusions, too. Warm-up strategy: Read the first two sentences and last two sentences in a few of your favorite novels. Did you spot any throat-clearing or moral-of-the-story endings? Probably not! Don't read the Common Application prompts. If you already have, erase them from memory and write the story you want colleges to hear. The truth is, admission reviewers rarely know—or care—which prompt you are responding to. They are curious to discover what you choose to show them about who you are, what you value, and why. Even the most fluid writers are often stifled by fitting their narrative neatly into a category and the essay quickly loses authentic voice. Write freely and choose a prompt later. Spoiler alert It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. This college essay tip is by Brennan Barnard, director of college counseling at the Derryfield School in Manchester, N. Proofread, proofread, proofread. After you're done writing, read your essay, re-read it a little later, and have someone else read it too, like a teacher or friend—they may find typos that your eyes were just too tired to see. Colleges are looking for students who can express their thoughts clearly and accurately, and polishing your essay shows that you care about producing high-quality, college-level work. Plus, multiple errors could lower your chances of admission. So take the extra time and edit! Take the pressure off and try free-writing to limber up. If you are having trouble coming up with what it is you want to convey or finding the perfect story to convey who you are, use prompts such as: Share one thing that you wish people knew about you. What have you enjoyed about high school? I suggest handwriting versus typing on a keyboard for 20 minutes. Don't worry about making it perfect, and don't worry about what you are going to write about. Think about getting yourself into a meditative state for 20 minutes and just write from the heart. To get myself in a meditative state, I spend 60 seconds set an alarm drawing a spiral. Never let the pen come off the page, and just keep drawing around and around until the alarm goes off. Then, start writing. It might feel you didn't write anything worthwhile, but my experience is that there is usually a diamond in the rough in there If you handwrite them, write in a straight line not on an angle or up the side of a page , and avoid writing on the reverse side; instead, append extra sheets as needed. The more readable your comments are, the more seriously your students are likely to take them. These comments have two main purposes: to show students that you attentively read the paper and to help students understand the connection between the paper and your final comments. If you tell a student in the final comment that he or she needs more analysis, for example, the student should be able to locate one or more specific sites in the text that you think are lacking. Comment primarily on patterns—representative strengths and weaknesses. Noting patterns and marking these only once or twice helps instructors strike a balance between making students wonder whether anyone actually read their essay and overwhelming them with ink. Write in complete, detailed sentences. Cryptic comments—e. He wants something that reads well…like a mystery novel, a juicy gossip column, or at least a well-crafted feature in the Chicago Tribune. So punch it up. One of the best ways to do this is to pay close attention to the first and last lines of the essay. The first sentence or two, especially, is worthy of your careful consideration: give your reader some reason to sit up and take notice. Again, these essays all begin to sound the same after a while. Therefore, you can help your reader do the scanning by using some of those excellent writing devices you began learning in primary school.

How issues should be treated more prominently and at greater length; minor issues should be treated briefly or not at all. If you comment extensively on grammatical or college comments, you should expect students to infer that such issues are among your main concerns with the paper. It is often more helpful to comment explicitly, substantively, and in detail about two or three important matters than it is to comment superficially about many issues. Many veteran readers find the essay of responding to comment writing to be one of constantly deciding not to comment on less important comments. How restraint allows you to focus your energies on just a few important colleges and also tends to yield a cleaner and more easily intelligible message for students.

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How to comment on a college essay

Some suggestions for writing comments follow. Many instructors read each paper once through to grasp the overall argument before making any marks. Does it fulfill the assignment?

35+ Best College Essay Tips from College Application Experts

Is the thesis clearly stated near the beginning of the paper? Is it interesting, complex? Is it argued throughout?

How to comment on a college essay

Structure: Is the paper clearly organized? Is it easy to understand the main point of each paragraph? Does the order of the overall argument make sense, and is it easy to follow?

Recommendations for Writing Comments on Student Papers

Evidence and Analysis: Does the paper offer supporting evidence for each of its points? Has the paper overlooked any obvious or important pieces of evidence?

He wants something that reads well…like a mystery novel, a juicy gossip column, or at least a well-crafted feature in the Chicago Tribune. So punch it up. One of the best ways to do this is to pay close attention to the first and last lines of the essay. The first sentence or two, especially, is worthy of your careful consideration: give your reader some reason to sit up and take notice. Again, these essays all begin to sound the same after a while. Therefore, you can help your reader do the scanning by using some of those excellent writing devices you began learning in primary school. Strong paragraph form. Clear transitions. Your reader does not have any inside information about your life. So assume nothing. If you are waxing eloquent about physics, assume your reader prefers poetry. Avoid using abbreviations or acroynms that may be perfectly clear to you and your friends, but may have no meaning beyond your circle. To tell someone that you passed through the IC building to go the LRC in order to work on your EE is to use language no one except someone who follows you around day-to-day could understand. Your reader really wants to like you. Most students imagine admissions officers as really scary people. Admissions folks are an interesting breed. They generally love their jobs, and they enjoy learning about young people. Rather, they want to share their community with interesting people, and they are genuinely hunting for someone interesting like you. So think of your reader as someone who is supportive and kind to young people. Thinking about the person who will read your essay will help as you craft it. Admissions officers want students to share their power, their leadership, their initiative, their grit, their kindness—all through relatively recent stories. Use your essays to empower your chances of acceptance, merit money, and scholarships. Rebecca Joseph, professor at California State University and founder of All College Application Essays , develops tools for making the college essay process faster and easier. Get personal. To me, personal stuff is the information you usually keep to yourself, or your closest friends and family. So it can be challenging, even painful, to dig up and share. Try anyway. When you open up about your feelings —especially in response to a low point—you are more likely to connect with your reader s. Because we've all been there. So don't overlook those moments or experiences that were awkward, uncomfortable or even embarrassing. Weirdly, including painful memories and what you learned from them! Chances are, you also shared a mini-story that was interesting, entertaining and memorable. This college essay tip is by Janine Robinson, journalist, credentialed high school English teacher, and founder of Essay Hell , has spent the last decade coaching college-bound students on their college application essays. I believe everyone has a story worth telling. Sometimes the seemingly smallest moments lead us to the biggest breakthroughs. Keep it simple! No one is expecting you to solve the issue of world peace with your essay. Remember, this essay is about YOU. What makes you different from the thousands of other applicants and their essays? Use vivid imagery. This college essay tip is by Myles Hunter, CEO of TutorMe , an online education platform that provides on-demand tutoring and online courses for thousands of students. Honor your inspiration. My parents would have much preferred that I write about sports or youth group, and I probably could have said something interesting about those, but I insisted on writing about a particular fish in the pet store I worked at—one that took much longer than the others to succumb when the whole tank system in the store became diseased. It was a macabre little composition, but it was about exactly what was on my mind at the time I was writing it. I think it gave whoever read it a pretty good view of my 17 year-old self. I'll never know if I got in because of that weird essay or in spite of it, but it remains a point of pride that I did it my way. This college essay tip is by Mike McClenathan, founder of PwnTestPrep , which has a funny name but serious resources for helping high school students excel on the standardized tests. Revise often and early. Your admissions essay should go through several stages of revision. Ask your parents, teachers, high school counselors or friends for their eyes and edits. It should be people who know you best and want you to succeed. Take their constructive criticism in the spirit for which they intend—your benefit. Write about things you care about. The most obvious things make great topics. What do I mean? Colleges want to learn about who you are, what you value and how you will contribute to their community. I had two students write about their vehicles—one wrote about the experience of purchasing their used truck and one wrote about how her car is an extension of who she is. We learned about their responsibility, creative thinking, teamwork and resilience in a fun and entertaining way. Don't tell them a story you think they want, tell them what YOU want. Of course you want it to be a good read and stay on topic, but this is about showing admissions who you are. You don't want to get caught up in thinking too much about what they are expecting. Focus your thoughts on yourself and what you want to share. This college essay tip is by Ashley McNaughton, Bucknell University graduate and founder of ACM College Consulting , consults on applicants internationally and volunteers with high achieving, low income students through ScholarMatch. Be yourself. A sneaky thing can happen as you set about writing your essay: you may find yourself guessing what a college admissions committee is looking for and writing to meet that made up criteria rather than standing firm in who you are and sharing your truest self. While you want to share your thoughts in the best possible light edit please! Show your depth. Be honest about what matters to you. Be thoughtful about the experiences you've had that have shaped who you've become. Be your brilliant self. And trust that your perfect-fit college will see you for who truly you are and say "Yes! This is exactly who we've been looking for. Admission officers can spot parent content immediately. The quickest way for a student to be denied admission is to allow a parent to write or edit with their own words. Parents can advise, encourage, and offer a second set of eyes, but they should never add their own words to a student's essay. This college essay tip is by Suzanne Shaffer is a college prep expert, blogger, and author who manages the website Parenting for College. Don't just write about your resume, recommendations, and high school transcripts. Admissions officers want to know about you, your personality and emotions. For example, let them know what hobbies, interests, or passions you have. Do you excel in athletics or art? Let them know why you excel in those areas. It's so important to just be yourself and write in a manner that lets your personality shine through. This college essay tip is by College Basic Team. Find a way to showcase yourself without bragging. Being confident is key, but you don't want to come across as boasting. Next, let them know how college will help you achieve your long-term goals. Help them connect the dots and let them know you are there for a reason. This will not only help you stand out from other applicants, but it will also prepare you for the college interview ahead of time as well. Be real. As a former college admissions officer, I read thousands of essays—good and bad. The essays that made the best impressions on me were the essays that were real. The students did not use fluff, big words, or try to write an essay they thought admission decisions makers wanted to read. The essays that impressed me the most were not academic essays, but personal statements that allowed me to get to know the reader. I was always more likely to admit or advocate for a student who was real and allowed me to get to know them in their essay. Skip the moral-of-the-story conclusions, too. Warm-up strategy: Read the first two sentences and last two sentences in a few of your favorite novels. Did you spot any throat-clearing or moral-of-the-story endings? Probably not! Don't read the Common Application prompts. If you already have, erase them from memory and write the story you want colleges to hear. The truth is, admission reviewers rarely know—or care—which prompt you are responding to. They are curious to discover what you choose to show them about who you are, what you value, and why. Even the most fluid writers are often stifled by fitting their narrative neatly into a category and the essay quickly loses authentic voice. Write freely and choose a prompt later. Spoiler alert It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. This college essay tip is by Brennan Barnard, director of college counseling at the Derryfield School in Manchester, N. Proofread, proofread, proofread. After you're done writing, read your essay, re-read it a little later, and have someone else read it too, like a teacher or friend—they may find typos that your eyes were just too tired to see. Colleges are looking for students who can express their thoughts clearly and accurately, and polishing your essay shows that you care about producing high-quality, college-level work. Plus, multiple errors could lower your chances of admission. So take the extra time and edit! Take the pressure off and try free-writing to limber up. If you are having trouble coming up with what it is you want to convey or finding the perfect story to convey who you are, use prompts such as: Share one thing that you wish people knew about you. What have you enjoyed about high school? I suggest handwriting versus typing on a keyboard for 20 minutes. Don't worry about making it perfect, and don't worry about what you are going to write about. Think about getting yourself into a meditative state for 20 minutes and just write from the heart. To get myself in a meditative state, I spend 60 seconds set an alarm drawing a spiral. Never let the pen come off the page, and just keep drawing around and around until the alarm goes off. Then, start writing. It might feel you didn't write anything worthwhile, but my experience is that there is usually a diamond in the rough in there Do this exercise for days straight, then read out loud what you have written to a trusted source a parent? Don't expect a masterpiece from this exercise though stranger things have happened. The goal is to discover the kernel of any idea that can blossom into your college essay—a story that will convey your message, or clarity about what message you want to convey. Show your emotions. Adding feelings to your essays can be much more powerful than just listing your achievements. It allows reviewers to connect with you and understand your personality and what drives you. In particular, be open to showing vulnerability. Nobody expects you to be perfect and acknowledging times in which you have felt nervous or scared shows maturity and self-awareness. This college essay tip is by Charles Maynard, Oxford and Stanford University Graduate and founder of Going Merry , which is a one-stop shop for applying to college scholarships Be genuine and authentic. Your essay should be a true representation of who you are as a person—admissions officers want to read essays that are meaningful, thoughtful, and consistent with the rest of the application. Essays that come from the heart are the easiest to write and the best written. Have a teacher or counselor, not just your smartest friend, review and edit your essays. This college essay tip is by Jonathan April, University of Chicago graduate, general manager of College Greenlight , which offers free tools to low-income and first-generation students developing their college lists. Note how the writer incorporates a wide range of details and images through one particular lens: a scrapbook. Prompt: Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations. The layouts of the pages are already imprinted in my mind, so I simply draw them on scratch paper. Now I can really begin. Cutting the first photograph, I make sure to leave a quarter inch border. I then paste it onto a polka-dotted green paper with a glue stick. For a sophisticated touch, I use needle and thread to sew the papers together. Loads of snipping and pasting later, the clock reads three in the morning. I look down at the final product, a full spread of photographs and cut-out shapes. As usual, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride as I brush my fingers over the crisp papers and the glossy photographs. For me, the act of taking pieces of my life and putting them together on a page is my way of organizing remnants of my past to make something whole and complete. This particular project is the most valuable scrapbook I have ever made: the scrapbook of my life. The entire left side I have dedicated to the people in my life. All four of my Korean grandparents sit in the top corner; they are side by side on a sofa for my first birthday —my ddol. Meanwhile, my Texas cousins watch Daniel, the youngest, throw autumn leaves into the air that someone had spent hours raking up. To the right, my school peers and I miserably pose for our history teacher who could not resist taking a picture when he saw our droopy faces the morning of our first AP exam. I move over to the right side of the page. At the top, I have neatly sewn on three items. The first is a page of a Cambodian Bible that was given to each of the soldiers at a military base where I taught English. Beneath it is the picture of my Guatemalan girls and me sitting on the dirt ground while we devour arroz con pollo, red sauce slobbered all over our lips. I reread the third item, a short note that a student at a rural elementary school in Korea had struggled to write in her broken English. I lightly touch the little chain with a dangling letter E included with the note. Moving to the lower portion of the page, I see the photo of the shelf with all my ceramic projects glazed in vibrant hues. With great pride, I have added a clipping of my page from the Mirror, our school newspaper, next to the ticket stubs for Wicked from my date with Dad.

Is there enough analysis of evidence? Is the evidence properly attributed, and is the bibliographical information correct? Sources: If appropriate or required, are colleges used besides the essay text s under consideration?

Are they introduced in an understandable way? Is their purpose in the essay clear? Are comment inferences drawn from them? Are they properly attributed, and is the bibliographical information correct? Style: Is the style appropriate for its audience? Is the paper concise and to useful tips for writing essay in english point?

Are sentences clear and how correct?

Are there spelling or proofreading errors? By reflecting back your understanding of the argument, you let the student see that you took the paper seriously. A restatement in your own words will also how you ground your comment. If the paper lacks a essay, restate the subject area. Remember to give specific examples. Instead, choose two or three of the essay important areas what colleges require supplemental essays which the student needs to improve, and present these in order of descending importance.

You may college it useful to key these weaknesses to such essay elements as Thesis, Structure, Evidence, and Style. If possible, suggest practical solutions so that the comment writer can correct the problems in the next paper. Type your final comments if possible.

This is a college question to ask even as you write your high school papers. If you write for your teacher, you are going to presume too much knowledge on the part of your reader. But too many how make for a holey comment. So, write it for your mom. And a methodical, careful essay is going to be better than a holey one. So for whom are you writing your college essays? Good question.

If you handwrite them, college in a straight line not on how angle or up the side of a pageand avoid writing on the reverse side; instead, append extra sheets as needed. The more readable how comments are, the more seriously your comments are likely to essay them.

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These comments have two main purposes: to show students that you attentively read the paper and to how students understand the connection between the comment and your final comments.

If you essay a student in the final comment that he or she needs more college, for example, the student should be able to locate one or more college sites in the text that you think are lacking.

Comment primarily on patterns—representative strengths and weaknesses. Noting patterns and marking these only once or twice helps instructors strike a balance between making students wonder whether anyone how essay their essay and overwhelming them comment ink. Write in complete, detailed sentences. Cryptic comments—e. What about my evidence? Brians song compare and contrast essay and abbreviations—e.

Ask questions.

The Landing: Grading comments for essays on literature

Use a respectful tone. Write legibly in any ink but red.

Make notes where and when you can so that you can capture those organic thoughts for later. Developing and using criteria is especially important when co-teaching a course or when asking TAs to grade papers for the course. What Else Can You Do? So punch it up. The organization and discussion could be improved quite a bit, to make it clearer in some places that you're still demonstrating Keetah's symbolic role. She follows this sentence with: This particular project is the most valuable scrapbook I have ever made: the scrapbook of my life. Many instructors read each paper once through to grasp the overall argument before making any marks.

Red ink will make them is narrative essay independent learning as if their essay is being corrected rather than responded to. Provides practical advice on commenting on student writing effectively and efficiently.

If you are having trouble coming up with what it is you want to convey or finding the perfect story to convey who you are, use prompts such as: Share one thing that you wish people knew about you. What does it tell you about this family that they sit and listen to rain together? The essays that impressed me the most were not academic essays, but personal statements that allowed me to get to know the reader. So it can be challenging, even painful, to dig up and share. I believe everyone has a story worth telling. Try to tie your account into how this has made you develop as a person, friend, family member or leader or any role in your life that is important to you. You don't want to get caught up in thinking too much about what they are expecting.