Archive for the ‘Educational Writing’ Category

Application Essay

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

A well-written essay is an important part of any strong school or job application. At Beaumont Hardy, I work with job applicants and students of all ages to craft effective and compelling application essays. Send me your essay draft, and I will help you perfect it.

The following is an unedited essay written as part of an application to an M.F.A. program. Below the unedited version is my edit of the same text. My editorial comments are at the bottom of this post.

The reason that I would like to attend this program is because I think that I would fit in really well in the program. I have a BA in Language Arts, and I have written a lot of poetry in my past life. Actually, one of my poems was even printed in a magazine, the Southern Poetry Journal, and it was also selected as the Best Poem by a Young Poet of 2007. I feel like I have a lot more poems in me, and I have a lot of good ideas. Your program is one of the best in the country, and I would appreciate the opportunity to work with Sara J. Williamson, the poet.

The edited essay reads as follows.

I would like to attend this program, because I believe it is particularly suited to my poetic style and my publishing background. I have a bachelor’s degree in Language Arts, and I have written many poems.One of my poems, […], was published in the […] Southern Poetry Journal. It was also selected as the Best Poem by a Young Poet of 2007. I feel I have just begun to discover my potential as a poet, and I have many more creative ideas that I would like to explore. Your program is one of the best in the country, and I would appreciate the opportunity to work with Sara J. Williamson. […]

Below is the text with my editing marks. My comments to the author are in brackets and italicized. The portions I cut appear with a strike-through, and the portions I added are underlined. (In a normal Word document with “Track Changes,” my editing marks are in red, and my comments are in their own separate section, not inserted into the text.)

The reason thatI would like to attend this program [Instead of “this program,” it might be better to mention the specific name of the program: “I would like to attend Western University’s M.F.A. program in poetry,” for example.], is because I believe it is particularly suited to my poetic style and my publishing backgroundthink that I would fit in really well in the program. I have a bachelor’s degree BA in Language Arts [Where did you get your bachelor’s degree? You could insert the name of the school here: “I have a bachelor’s degree in Language Arts from…University”], and I have written many poems a lot of poetry in my past life. Actually, oOne of my poems, [Insert the name of the poem here.], was published in even printed in a magazine, the [Insert the edition and date of the poetry journal here: “One of my poems was published in the January 2007 issue of Southern Poetry Journal,” for example.] Southern Poetry Journal., and iIt was also selected as the Best Poem by a Young Poet of 2007 [Can you make this into an active sentence, instead of a passive one? Who selected the poem? You could say, “The ABC Poetry Association selected ‘name of poem’ as the Best Poem…”]. I feel like I have just begun to discover my potential as a poeta lot more poems in me, and I have many more creativea lot of good ideas that I would like to explore. Your program is one of the best in the country, and I would appreciate the opportunity to work with Sara J. Williamson, the poet. [Could you provide specific reasons for wanting to work with Sara J. Williamson or, perhaps, reasons you admire her work? (“… work with Sara J. Williamson, whose poetry uses natural imagery in much the same way as I would like to use dialogue in my work,” for example.]

This essay includes the information it should—the applicant’s eagerness to participate in this program, the applicant’s relevant accomplishments, and the reason the applicant would like to attend this particular program (to work with Ms. Williamson). However, the essay would benefit from more specific details. Adding information about the name of the school and program makes the essay feel more particularized and less like a document sent to dozens of different schools. Details about the applicant’s published poem and about the organization naming the Young Poet of the Year are of great interest to the admissions committee. Providing more information about the relevance of Ms. Williamson’s work to the applicant’s own poetry will further strengthen the essay.

[Please post your comments about this Sample Edit. To submit your own work for a free edit–and inclusion in a posting on this blog–please write to me at jane@beaumonthardy.com.]