It’s that time of year when my young friends of a certain age are submitting their college essays. “Ask Dalma,” their parents say. “She’s a retired college professor and a published author. I guess they don’t know that I pay an editor to edit my blogs. I assiduously ignore the difference between a listing comma, a joining comma, a gapping comma, and a bracketing comma. However, I do know what constitutes a paragraph and proper word use.
It’s often the case that my young writers over-use the synonym function in Word, coming up with substitutes that are totally out of context. It makes for entertaining reading, albeit not informative—sort of like a spoken text message gone wrong. “I do be “wilding” myself a lot, though.” I’m still not sure what this sentence means.
While the answers to essay prompts are often cliché and uninspired, the questions some universities ask are downright banal. My sister, a retired high school teacher, laid some of the blame for poor essays on the fact that students rarely learn to answer the type of queries they most often encounter on college applications. For that matter, many in my experience don’t know how to write a complete paragraph—introduction and/or topic sentence, body or supporting sentences, transitions, and conclusion. They don’t read, so they are limited in their use of metaphors and similes.
In the end, does anyone actually read these essays?