Action Plan Post Denials and Deferrals: Should I Re-Write My Essay?

Is a re-write worthwhile? Maybe yes, but mostly no.

After hearing back from Early Decision or Early Action schools, there are a handful of students who believe that it was their essay that resulted in their denials or deferrals.

Here are a few thoughts on whether changing up the CA Essay for the ED 2/Regular Decision round is the right course of action for a student:

The Whipped-Off Essay

If a student’s ED/EA personal statement was lightly-drafted, I advise using the time between now and RD deadlines to contemplate the “big essay.” This narrative is the centerpiece of the written portion of an application, and if it doesn’t work in concert with the Supplemental Essays, enhancing or empowering them in some way, I urge students to rethink or contemplate anew their CA or Coalition Essay.

Time Management

There’s not a huge amount of time between the early round’s notification period and RD deadlines. My biggest piece of advice for my seniors who didn’t receive ED/EA offers to schools they’re committed to attending is to spend these upcoming weeks focusing on their Supplemental Essays instead of massaging their CA Essay with a re-write. The anxiety mounts and a fixation on a paragraph can seem like the reason for rejection. To these students, I say: Breathe. Write convincing I Love You Supplemental Essays instead of futzing with your big essay.

Don’t Blame the Essay

Most importantly, I remind students that most admissions officers review candidates holistically, looking at a student’s background information as well as personal data to see if a good-fit between the applicant and college is obvious. The early round acceptances, particularly Early Decision, which is binding, seek students whom the institution feels will not only survive but thrive. Academic performance, demographics, geographics, financials, high school relationship, proposed major, gender identity, test scores, portfolios, extracurriculars and, of course, the personal statement as well as Supplemental Essays (if required) collectively depict a prospective student. Some colleges weight one or two elements more seriously than others. No admission officer has ever told me that they denied or deferred a student based solely on their essay. Many students have received notes conveying how much their essay was enjoyed by the admissions team, however!

When panicked, it’s easy for students to want to re-write their essay to change-up the one element of their application that they can still control. Again, I repeat: Work on Your Supplemental Essays instead.

For more information about College Counseling/Essay Coaching, please drop me a line at or give me a holler at 917-863-2424. Also, for “news you can use,” please check out my blog, videos, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

And Happy Holidays to All!