Edit College Essays For Money Dailymotion

Let’s start with résumés.

“It’s important to have a solid résumé,” said John Challenger, chief executive of the outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. But, Mr. Challenger said, he would be wary of plunking down a lot of cash to have someone work on your résumé.

“Anybody can find a dozen things you can do differently, and you can get contradictory advice,” he said. “I get very worried that people are preying on those who are desperate and out of work.”

Plenty of Web sites offer free information on how to improve your résumé, Mr. Challenger said, but constantly revising and polishing your résumé isn’t the best use of your time.

“They’re not great door openers,” he said. “People get thousands of résumés a day. The way you get a job is sitting down face to face.”

The résumé writing service my friend was considering came through The Ladders, a job search Web site for people seeking senior-level positions. It does offer free résumé writing tips online. But you can also sign up for premium membership, which costs $35 for one month, and receive a free résumé critique. The critique offered my friend suggestions on how he could sell himself better, with more advice to come if he paid $695.

I wondered what you got for that hefty price tag.

“We have 30 certified résumé writers in our New York headquarters and have rewritten well over 25,000 résumés since we launched the service in 2006,” said Lou Casale, a spokesman for The Ladders. Certified means that the writers have passed a test given by (and are usually are dues-paying members of) at least one national résumé-writing association: Career Management Alliance, National Résumé Writers’ Association or Professional Association of Résumé Writers.

Wendy S. Enelow, who is a professional résumé writer and co-founder of the Résumé Writing Academy, which trains résumé writers, vehemently disagrees that following online tips is as a good as working with a professional.

“There are tricks of the trade that I know after 31 years,” said Ms. Enelow, who charges a minimum of $2,500 for her services. “It’s not just slapping your work history on a piece of paper.”

“You have to sell it, don’t tell it — don’t tell me what you did, tell me how well you did it,” she said. And, with computers doing résumé scanning now, you need to know how to integrate the right keywords to make sure your résumé isn’t tossed out automatically.

Résumé writing is one thing — the issue is whether it is money well spent to hire someone to revise it, not whether it’s ethical. Paying someone to help with your college admissions essays is trickier, because it raises the question of true authorship.

First, we need to differentiate between editing and writing. I believe every article or essay can use a good editor, no matter how long you’ve been writing. Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, agreed.

“There’s nothing wrong with another pair of eyes,” he said. “The problem is when they cross the threshold of authenticity.”

The point of the essay is to hear something about the student that hasn’t been elicited in the rest of the application process, Mr. Nassirian said, not to turn in a highly polished piece of writing.

Mark Sklarow, executive director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, noted that an extremely well-written essay might backfire if the student’s English grades — and score on the standardized test-writing portion — did not reflect such high quality.

“No college in America will believe that kid wrote that essay, and it will probably cost that kid a place at college,” he said.

Good editors can help a teenager go a little deeper into the subject, and make sure the essay flows well.

“But it has to feel like it was written by a 17-year-old,” Mr. Sklarow said. He said his own daughter used a consultant for her college preparation process and when the consultant told her that a certain paragraph didn’t read right, she refused to change it.

“My daughter said, ‘I want it to sound like that,’ and the educational consultant said, ‘Fine.’ I feel really good about how that process went,” he said. “If you look at the essay, you know that a 17-year-old girl wrote it.”

Mandee Heller Adler, president of International College Counselors, says she has parents sign a form, part of which establishes that her counselors will “review, not do” the essay.

“I’m not going to write an essay,” she said. “It’s an ethical question and it’s a line I won’t cross. Of course, it’s a fuzzy line, but I have to feel comfortable that I haven’t crossed it.”

We’ve covered work. We’ve covered education. But who knew that you could outsource your own description for dating sites as well.

Do we really need this?

“Have you ever been on a dating site?” Evan Marc Katz, a dating coach, asked me. “The need is ridiculously immense.”

Mr. Katz, who has the aptly named Web site e-cyrano.com, is offering a recession special — for $39 you get a line-by-line critical analysis and solutions to spruce up your essay. For $99, he offers two separate fully written profiles based on a short consultation and questionnaire, and those who can’t be bothered to fill out a form can pay $149 to chat with a consultant for an hour, who will write two “highly individualized essays.”

Eric Resnick, owner of ProfileHelper.com, said, “It’s one thing to write well in general. It’s a totally different proposition to write about yourself, with all the emotions involved. We try to get you out of your own way.”

Mr. Resnick charges $50 for a simple profile makeover and $150 for an hourlong consultation.

Although résumés, college admissions essays and dating profiles may seem to have little in common, all the writers I spoke to talked about the need to be honest, and to have your own voice come through.

“People say, ‘Make me sound funny’ and I’ll say, ‘Then say something funny,’ ” Mr. Resnick said. “If you’re not yourself, you’re not going to attract the right people.”

So the overall message is, just be you. But a somewhat more interesting, more attractive, more eloquent you. And that’s where the professionals come in.

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