In the admissions process, there’s a high premium on the personal statement, a 500-word essay submitted through the Common Application, about some foible or lesson, which aims to give readers a better sense of the student than, say, a standardized test score.
More than one university and advising blog rank the essay among the “most important” aspects of the process; one consultant writing in described it as “the purest part of the application.” But while test scores are completed by the student alone—barring bribed proctors, that is—any number of people can alter an essay before submission, opening it up to exploitation and less-than-pure tactics at the hands of helicopter parents or expensive college-prep counselors who cater to the 1 percent.
Managers would send him essays via email, and the tutor would revise and return them, with anywhere between a 24-hour and two-week turnaround.
But from the beginning, the consultant explained, his managers were “pretty explicit” that the job entailed less editing than rewriting. I would say about 50 percent were entirely rewritten.”In one particularly egregious instance, the tutor said, a student submitted an essay on hip-hop, which named his three or four favorite rappers, but lacked a clear narrative.
For the ultra-rich, big contributions might get their name on a science building and their offspring a spot at a top-tier school—an option California Gov.
Gavin Newsom recently called “legal bribery.” Even the moderately wealthy can grease the admissions process with extensive SAT tutoring or, more problematically, college application essay editing.We’ve also had problems in the past with students asking for corners to be cut.”Another consultant who worked for the same company and later became the assistant director of U. operations told The Daily Beast that while rewriting was not overtly encouraged, it was also not strictly prohibited.“The precise terms were: I was getting paid a lump sum in exchange for helping this student with this Common App essay and supplement essays at a couple universities.But these parents really don’t care about that at all.They’re going to pay whoever to make the essays look like whatever to get their kids into school.”The tutor continued to advise this client, doing “numerous, numerous edits on this girl’s essay” until she was later accepted at Columbia University.He conceded, however, that the rules were not always followed: “Bottom line is: It takes more time for an employee to sit with a student and help them figure things out for themselves, than it does to just do it.We had problems in the past with people cutting corners.“When it’s done, it needs to be good enough for the student to go to that school, whether that means lying, making things up on behalf of the student, or basically just changing anything such that it would be acceptable.”“When it’s done, it needs to be good enough for the student to go to that school, whether that means lying, making things up on behalf of the student, or basically just changing anything such that it would be acceptable,” he told The Daily Beast. The tutor said he rewrote the essay to tell the story of the student moving to America, struggling to connect with an American stepfamily, but eventually finding a connection through rap. you know, he found that through his stepbrother he could connect through rap music and having a stepbrother teach him about rap music, and I talked about this loving-relation thing. He just said he liked rap music.” Over time, the tutor said, his company shifted its work model.Instead of sending him random, anonymous essays, the managers began to assign him students to oversee during the entire college application cycle. “So if I get some student, ‘Abby Whatever,’ I would write all 18 of her essays so that it would look like it was all one voice.One consultant, a 22-year-old Harvard graduate, told The Daily Beast that, during his senior year in college, he began working as an essay editor for a company that hires Ivy Leaguers to tutor applicants on a range of subjects.When he took the job in September 2017, the company was still young and fairly informal.