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Articles / Applying to College / Should I Share My Essay (That Worked) With Others?

May 19, 2016

Should I Share My Essay (That Worked) With Others?

Question: Is it safe now to share my college admission essay publicly (on facebook or share with friends) since the admission is over or is there still any concern about plagiarism that will affect me? The reason I want to share is to give my underclassmen friends inspiration and an idea of what an accepted essay looks like but i want to know if there are any precautions

If you show your essay to others, it's certainly possible that it could be copied and recycled. Of course, if it's submitted to a college next year (or any time down the road) and then the plagiarist is caught, you won't be at fault. The date of the submission will clearly be AFTER you applied to college yourself, and there's nothing unscrupulous about letting future college candidates see what you've written. So if you're worried about someone else using your essay, that's a legitimate concern, but ultimately it shouldn't reflect badly on YOU.


However, if your primary reason for sharing your essay is to help others, it's possible that this “help" can do more harm than good. Most successful applicants have no way of knowing if their essay was a pro or a con in their final admission verdicts. In my many years at Smith College, we regularly admitted applicants in spite of a so-so (or even pretty awful) essay, and there were times when we LOVED the essay but still rejected the candidate for a variety of other reasons.

So, unless an admission officer specifically told you that your essay was great (which sometimes does happen), you may not actually be assisting your friends by saying, “Read this because it worked." The most you may be saying is, “Even if this essay was lousy, apparently it wasn't bad enough to keep me out."

In general, I don't think it's wise to put a college essay on Facebook for all (or most) of the world to see. Over the eons since Al Gore invented the Internet (he did, didn't he? 😉 ) I've been appalled by how shamelessly others have stolen my writing from the Web and re-published my words as their own. Although this has never gotten me into legal or ethical trouble, it certainly doesn't do any good to my blood pressure! On the other hand, if you want to send your essay to those you know and trust, that's a different story. But if anyone starts interrogating you about which colleges received this essay, that's when it's time to raise your antennae and start making speeches about the perils of bad karma!

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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