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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.
The employees who spoke to The Daily Beast often worked for companies with similar approaches to essay writing.
For most, tutors would Skype with students early on in the application process to brainstorm ideas.
(“I would say there were a lot of instances of hammering kids with potential ideas,” one tutor said.
“Like, ‘That’s a terrible idea for an essay, why don’t you try this instead?
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.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.“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.Thoughtfulness, introspection, and an unassuming tone make for great college essays too!) Many college essay writers choose to tell me outright that their personality is this way or that way.These are better areas of focus than the sport, grandparent, or trip themselves. It's all about detail: As I see it, you have two options when exploring a topic in your college essay: go broad or go deep. You could write about your own storytelling and how it is inspired by Hopper. One is better than the other (I'll give you a hint: it's the second one).Let me give an example: in writing about your budding interest in art history, you could write that you've always loved visiting museums, and how your art history course in high school solidified the interest. By focusing on details, you set yourself apart; many people love museums and could list some artists that they like.In interviews with The Daily Beast, eight college application tutors shed light on the economy of editing, altering, and, at times, outright rewriting personal statements.The essay editors, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity since many still work in their field, painted the portrait of an industry rife with ethical hazards, where the line between helping and cheating can become difficult to draw.