I had an impromptu call from a student this evening who is applying to law school. “I just need two minutes of your time to read over my essay, ” he said. Two hours and twenty minutes later, we said good-bye.
What happened in-between? We went line by line and unscrambled any confusing sentences, removed redundancies, looked for repetition, considered synonyms, and clarified if what was written was what was actually meant. Then we discussed how this particular experience could reflect a bigger picture idea – a universal truth – and rewrote the last paragraph to reflect that truth.
The final draft of the essay still reflected the essential message of the original one, but was clearer, more concise, and more personal.
My student – someone I’ve had since he was in 7th grade – is already a fine writer. However, everyone can benefit from a second set of eyes on a piece of writing and often that second set of eyes helps the writer to strip away anything that’s unnecessary so the original message can come through loud and clear.
My student’s essay is now stronger than ever. I expect he’ll be hearing good news from that law school.
I’m going to bed now.
Talk again tomorrow.