The admissions process is growing more and more competitive. This is not news to anyone. College, MBA, medical school, law school and other graduate program application numbers are all on the rise.
Despite and perhaps as the result of the current economic climate, more and more people are applying to school. With this exponential increase, the admissions consultation industry continues to expand and evolve. Applicants are inundated with advisors, independent consultants, and all types of mentors to steer and optimize their application process. “We’ll help you improve your test scores so that you are competitive. We’ll edit your essays to convey more polish and sophistication. We’ll guide you through the admissions process and strengthen your personal brand.” There is a broad spectrum of ethical standards when it comes to this ever-growing market, and we would like to share more about ours.
Ivy Eyes Editing was founded in 2005 by Yale graduates to tackle this market in a different way. We work with all types of applicants to push their thinking, develop authentic content through intellectual partnership, and build writing skills for the future. As editors, this process is more fulfilling for our team, and as former students, this ethical standard is paramount.
Consider the following excerpt from a recent admissions essay:
“1. What are you most passionate about? Why? (250 word maximum)
I am most passionate about corporate responsibility and social justice, and exploring how businesses can profitably advance human rights. My father fled Cambodia in 1976, leaving dozens of family members behind. As an undergraduate at the University of Texas, I learned about the brutal 1994 genocide in Rwanda and was shocked that despite the historical lessons we have learned as a society, another genocide had occurred in my lifetime. Shortly thereafter, I joined a group of students working to raise awareness about the ongoing conflict in Iraq.”
With this opening paragraph to a short essay, we suggested that the applicant truly target the prompt. The prompt says it all here, and we encourage all applicants to convey passion from the onset of the essay. We might ask: what are the real details of your family history? How can the transition from a family history linked to Rwanda to Iraq be strengthened and substantiated? How can you show that a personal history cemented values which translated into action?
These questions drive clients to share more color on their experience and literally present a more complete picture of themselves. From our point of view, the best writing does not possess the most sophisticated, refined prose; the best writing is able to ask the toughest questions. After the initial critique, candidates email us back with answers to our targeted questions.
An interesting theme has emerged through this process: the content that is needed to fill gaps in these essays is almost always explicitly present in clients’ answers. In fact, in most cases there is little content tweaking involved; we simply integrate clients’ answers directly into the essay, and help with stylistic polish. What does this say about our process?
As with any other consultation businesses, the key is not in taking ownership of clients’ work, but in driving clients to achieve their goals within their own brand. In other words, Ivy Eyes Editing is not seeking to transform a quotidian, poorly constructed, underdeveloped essay into a PhD-level masterpiece. Instead, we work as consultants and thought partners with clients, helping them to write at their fullest potential and develop effective ways to distill their unique stories, cultivate their narrative voices and market their successes.
As writers, what we impose is an emphasis on story-building. Even for the most sterile and empirical prompts, we encourage constructing narrative arcs (exposition, climax, denouement) and building depth through the use of multiple layers and threads.
In the admissions space, this approach is crucial. While some services produce essays that sound compelling, in many cases, applicants cannot speak to the content that is in front of them. How does this translate into the interview setting? How does this help candidates in both the short-term and the long-term? Ultimately, helping candidates craft stories that truly reflect their experience and purpose will be most valuable.
We hope this gives more general insight into our process. Email us today for a free assessment to see how we work, and how we can help you make your writing the most positive, compelling and accurate reflection of you.
Best of luck!
Ivy Eyes Editing