Revising and Polishing

Revise, revise, revise, and revise some more.

  • Expect to do a number of revisions if you hope to be competitive on a national level!

Proofread. Many times. Over time.

  • Draft the entire app, wait a couple of days, and go back and look at it again with fresh eyes, reading for an overall impression. 
  • Then read again and again over time for all the better ideas and examples that may pop into your head the more you think about your answers. Prepare the application EARLY to give you time to harness your subconscious, your creativity, and your own analytical skills.
  • Have others give you feedback: advisors, faculty, mentors, scholarship coordinator,  friends, family.

Make sure your writing is technically flawless.

  • No typos, no misspellings, no incorrect punctuation, no number or gender mismatches. It’s generally expected that you will seek advice on this if needed. Don't hesitate to get feedback from the Writing Center. (Exceptions to this last: the Rhodes and Mitchell scholarships--no essay feedback allowed at all.)
  • Read aloud (slowly and carefully) to catch missing words and awkward, convoluted sentences. Restructure awkward sentences or sentences where you are not sure of proper punctuation.
  • Then read for clarity and a logical progression of ideas.

Did you maintain a sharp focus?

  • Do you have tailored, focused responses to each question?
  • Did you try to share too many passions, ambitions, accomplishments, or social concerns?  Be strategic in your choices.
  • Did you avoid repetition across your essays to better show your many dimensions? 

On word/character counts...

  • One of the best ways to get tossed from the competition early is to exceed the word or character count limits. Check each revised version carefully!
  • Important! If you are not filling in most of the available word count, you are missing the chance to leave a strong impression.

Keep it tight!

  • Make sure you have written economically. Examine every paragraph and every sentence for their necessity.  Examine every sentence for words you can leave out while still retaining the meaning and impact—often restructuring a long sentence can help you accomplish this.
  • This doesn’t mean that you can’t use detail and images and anecdotes and examples and specifics. But keep it tight. Write fully and with passion and conviction, then pare it down to the gold.

Here's a great quote for writers (variously attributed to Cicero, Mark Twain, and others, so who knows?). Believe! It's very true...

            "If I'd had more time, I would have written less."