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5 Reasons You Should NEVER Buy an Admissions Essay

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With the early release of the 2016-2017 Common App essay prompts came an early onset of anxiety for high school juniors around the country. Even though experts at Harvard are trying to quell the intense pressure of the admissions process, it’s hard not to have college on the brain. Contemplating personal essay prompts this early in the game may even lead some students to question their own experiences, to feel boring and unprepared, and it’s this surge of uncertainty that can lead some students to outsource their admissions essays. Many services claim to write winning application essays for hire, but the dangers of working with these companies are real.

We’re here to tell you you can do it yourself. The first few months of the year are all about doing research and gathering information. It’s way too soon to start doubting your own abilities, and besides — admissions officers know when the “you” you present on the page is not really you. If you still don’t believe us, here are five other essential reasons why you should resist the urge to buy an admissions essay.

1. No one knows you better than you know yourself.

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Regardless of how much or how little information you share with a ghostwriter, no one can manufacture memories that are as genuine as the real ones you have stored in your brain. In the essay, sharing an authentic story is much more important than writing what you think an admissions officer wants to hear. It can take work to mine your memories for details, but pushing yourself through a brainstorming activity or a freewrite will ultimately help you uncover the kinds of specific details that will make your story sing. Only you can uncover those gems because they’re hidden inside your brain, and no one else’s.

2. When you buy a college essay, you give up the last shred of control you have over the application process.

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Think about it: when else can you speak to admissions in your own voice? Most schools have ceased to do admissions interviews. You can’t go back in time and change your freshman year grades (and if you can, you’ve also got an AWESOME college essay topic). You can only retake the SAT so many times. The one opportunity you have to represent yourself, and to showcase your most important personal qualities, is the essay. Why would you let a total stranger control the most personal and distinguishing portion of your application?

3. You deprive yourself of an important self-reflection process.

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Okay, bear with us. Self-exploration is hard, and it may even seem a little corny, but taking a little extra time to think about yourself, your values, and your vision for the future can completely revolutionize your decision-making process. You don’t have to know your major or career path to know what might make you happy. By taking the time to reflect on the most meaningful experiences and learning moments in your life, you also begin to tap into your intuition about what a healthy learning environment looks like for you. Suddenly, you have a very personal way to assess the schools on your list. By managing your own writing process, you will likely end up with a list of schools that will truly be a good fit for you–and an essay that demonstrates exactly the qualities that make you a great candidate.

4. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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There’s no way around it: the college admissions process is incredibly challenging. The tide is beginning to turn as new application systems and evaluation approaches emerge, but there is no magical elixir that will cure all of your college application woes. Buying an essay may seem like an appealing shortcut, but you never know what you’ll end up with. Chances are it won’t be what you were expecting.

5. It’s dishonest.

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We saved the most important–and most obvious–for last. Buying a college essay misrepresents who you are on a lot of levels, but most importantly it has the potential to damage your integrity permanently. Getting caught with a purchased or plagiarized essay calls all of your real accomplishments into question. Did you really spend every Sunday at the soup kitchen? Does your school even award a debate prize? When you lie once, and on such a major part of the application, it follows logically that you might lie again. Not only does buying an essay have the potential to invalidate all other aspects of your application, it also paints you as a dishonest person – the kind of person no school would want on campus.

This is heavy, serious stuff, but we don’t want to leave you feeling discouraged or afraid. We want you to know that you can do this. You have all the tools you need to write an amazing essay, but there’s also no shame in asking for help. Getting feedback and guidance is an incredibly important part of the writing process for anyone, and doing it yourself isn’t the same as doing it alone. You’re part of a huge community of people who care about you and want to help you in ways that will help you showcase your best self. So don’t hide behind a generic, impersonal insta-essay. The real you is way more awesome.

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