Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Application Season, Part 2

About a year ago, an article came out about the book that my wife and I co-authored. The newspaper that published the article will remain anonymous. But in the article, the writer wrote, "After Josh and his wife struggled with infidelity for six years, they turned to adoption."

Staring at the computer screen (online version), I did a double take. Did she really use the word "infidelity"? My face went ash white with horror. I looked a bit like that ghoulish figure in Munch's expressionistic painting "The Scream". My public reputation was sure to suffer irreparable damage!

At about that time, I got a call from the chief editor. Her voice quivered through the entire explanation. Come to find out, the writer had used the appropriate word, infertility, but in a final spell check, the program had changed the word to infidelity. I was reminded then that words do matter. Even letters and their proper ordering.

The moral of the story perhaps could go like this: the devil can be in the details.

It's important then that seniors invite a couple of editing eyes to comb through the application to look for blunders. Because in the end, it can be the difference between being "accepted" to college and being "excepted".

Recently, The Times wrote an article on this very topic. It read like a good horror film, filling my gut with paralyzing fear and howling laughter.

Here's a sample from the article.

You’ve filled out the application and added the personal statement, supplemental essay and activity sheet. Finally, it’s time to click “submit.”


Take a few minutes to proofread. Applications that are sent electronically don’t permit students to unseal the envelope and take one last look on the way to the post office.

Admissions offices see files littered with misspellings, grammatical mistakes and poor word choice. Students rely too much on programs that purport to check spelling and sentence structure.

A computer failed to catch this slip: “I love to turn on soft music and light scented candles because I love the smell of incest.”

To read the rest of the article click here.