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Reusing College App Essays

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Can essays be used more than once? For example, reusing the Common App essay for a college that doesn't use Common App? Will it show up as plagiarized?  Also, some of the questions schools ask are almost identical. Can the answers be copied, or will they be marked as plagiarized? 

(I hope it's obvious I mean reusing an essay the student wrote. NOT reusing an essay someone else wrote.)

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My kids have reused their own essays.  Since it is their own work, I don't consider that to be plagiarizing. 

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My Dd reused essays.  One thing she found helpful was to categorize essay topics by themes and then sort them into  color-coded folders. As she gathered the different questions, she would see if she could write a broad enough response to cover all the essay topics in that color-folder.  

For some, like URochester's 100 word response, she just modified an essay she liked that she could make work easily. (I think that one took her less than 25 mins to chop out words.)

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Thanks. My concern is if the essays are run through a plagiarism checker by one college and become part of the bank of essays, would they then show up as plagiarized the next time they were run through the same plagiarism checker? Surely colleges don't expect a whole new essay every time for identical prompts! 

Your posts are reassuring, thanks!

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My dd reused her essays. She also chopped up, re-organized, blended, and modified essays to create shorter essays, or to slightly change the answer due to the question that was asked.

It was never a problem. ?

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I don't think they check application essays with the plagiarism detectors; if they do, the modified essay would show up as matching another also associated with your same student's name. No need to worry.

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4 hours ago, klmama said:

I don't think they check application essays with the plagiarism detectors; if they do, the modified essay would show up as matching another also associated with your same student's name. No need to worry.

I didn't realize the essays show up associated with a name. That makes a big difference. Thanks!

I'm so relieved to hear that other students have reused their own essays successfully. Many thanks!

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Maybe I'm making an assumption,  but I remember my dc telling me students had to turn in all drafts of an assigned essay through Turnitin, and the final version of dc's showed an 80% match to dc's previous draft of the essay.  I guess I don't know for sure if it gave the name of the author.  I'll try to ask dc later.

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I have to imagine that a plagiarism checker would have to have an attribution to the original author.  Without such an attribution even the original author could not use their own work, which they should be entitled to do.

FWIW my kids used either the same essay or a modification of an essay for several applications.  Just be sure that you get more than one set of eyes on that essay to check for references to specific schools/programs/locations that should be changed, ie a reference to the advantages of living and learning in Smalltown when the essay is going to the uni in Bigcity.

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It's not a problem at all. My daughters modified and reused essays for various colleges as needed. One Common App essay was reused with some editing for the National Merit essay. Definitely don't try to write a fresh essay for every application!

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Another vote for no problem.  Ds applied to 10 schools and reused essays and parts of essays. No problem--accepted to all.

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On 9/7/2018 at 8:11 AM, klmama said:

Maybe I'm making an assumption,  but I remember my dc telling me students had to turn in all drafts of an assigned essay through Turnitin, and the final version of dc's showed an 80% match to dc's previous draft of the essay.  I guess I don't know for sure if it gave the name of the author.  I'll try to ask dc later.

When I have used TurnItIn, it would show the % that was identical to a paper turned in for an assignment in ABC class at XYZ university, but it did not give the student's name as author of that paper; I do not know if there are other versions that would provide that information.

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