Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

As you applicants are nervous to have your essays looked over by a second pair of eyes, keep these main points in mind to relieve some of your stress:

If you plan to have your essays read by somebody else and then revise them again, be sure to finish writing ahead of time. As a matter of courtesy, you should not rush somebody to work on your essays in one or two days unless they are comfortable with the idea. More importantly, as a lot of students, myself included, hope to refine their writing through other people’s earnest comments, it is important to leave sufficient time for editing. The lesson I learned the hard way after my second week of college relates to my first short paper. Although it was my early intention to bring the draft to a writing tutor before submission, I procrastinated working on it until the very last day. Thus, even though I did have a fruitful discussion with the tutor, I was only more exasperated to know how much improvement was needed, and how impossible it was to do it in less than twelve hours. I could only manage minor fixes and submitted my paper with a painful presumption that my product could have been better had I allocated reasonable time to amending it. Please do not repeat my mistake.

Also, people’s opinions are so varied that they may confuse and frustrate you. This was true on a personal level when my supplementary essay was hated by one and loved by another. (“Hate” is more of an exaggeration—-it was politely leveled to be exact, but for the sake of getting my point across, let’s assume both responses to be on the same spectrum of regard.) I doubted myself and the reviewers a lot at the beginning: should I modify this part of the essay as a compromise? Can I mediate the contrast by removing this portion? Should I trust their opinions, nonetheless? Is he more authoritative on this matter? When I was subjected to pick one lane and stay with it, I opted for the one who struck more similarly to my style of writing and my personal philosophies. It may sound like a cop-out to some people; “I was too scared and lazy to renovate an entire piece of writing.” Yet it worked out for me in the end, and right now I still cannot imagine what I would have done in the situation if I had forced myself into unease.

This brings me to a ginormous point that this article cannot miss: Have faith in yourself and your essays. I understand that deep-rooted dogmatism would easily defeat the purpose of peer review, or review by any person as you wish. What is the point of receiving feedback while none convinces you to make a change or do better? By all means, seek advice and see how much it clarifies your arguments, strengthens your logic and eases your transitions. At the same time, question if the change is acceptable: if it still respects your originality instead of hindering or contorting it. From my perspective, a thing that needs to be underscored, and can never be highlighted enough, is that you need immeasurable faith to grace through this entire application process. You need to know who you are or how you are presenting yourself to the admissions committee at least. Once you know, treat your self-knowledge with respect. I would dare to assert that it is indispensable to achieve success, like a friend used to remind me frequently, “If you don’t believe in yourself, who should?”

Along the line of honoring yourself, you with your own multitudes and complexities and problems and resolutions, do feel blessed that you are given an opportunity to be an agent of yourself. Do feel very proud of your accomplishments, aspirations and the way you are at this moment. One thing that I have noticed repeatedly from observing myself and others is how we tend to be embarrassed by our own writing. There is not enough mastery of words, imageries and rhythms. There is not enough depth to the reasoning and delineation of emotions. I act awkwardly, get anxious and produce excessive self-doubts whenever my work is under scrutiny. What I sometimes forget is that my writing does not have to be immaculate before it can be beautiful. It does not have to render brilliancy or prodigy before it is a true representation of my thoughts and feelings. Writing is humanity, and what do we all say under the umbrella of humanness? Humans are not perfect, but everyone is beautiful.

I know that you will work hard on your essays and that you should spend a generous amount of time to achieve your goals and actualize your visions. I know it is a little harder to decide which changes to accept, which are frivolous and which parts of your essays should be jettisoned. I know it is a little harder to feel absolutely, definitely confident with your writing, let it be pertaining to your college applications or just in the bigger scheme of life. Nonetheless, never lose faith in yourself and your inherent capacity for success; you can always improve, but only by believing in yourself first.



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the author

Chi Thuy Le likes to think she lives bi-continentally while writing out of Chicago.

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