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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Worries Bad Grammar Cost Son Acceptance to Graduate School

DEAR ABBY: When my son was 9 he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. He is now a college grad. Because I couldn't fix his diabetes, I have tried to fix everything else in his life, and it hasn't been pretty.

He was home for a visit the day his graduate school application was due. I bulldozed him into taking some punctuation advice on his letter of intent that turned out to be wrong. A few months later a rejection letter arrived, and I'm afraid my grammatical error caused it. I'm afraid his dreams were dashed because he trusted me. He doesn't think the mistake had anything to do with the rejection, but I suspect he's trying to protect my feelings because he's such a nice person.

How important is perfect grammar on a grad school letter of intent? If my son has an above-average GPA, research experience, above-average GRE scores, but a grammatical error in his essay, could that one error put him out of contention? -- TRYING TO MEDDLE NO MORE

DEAR TRYING: I seriously doubt that a misplaced comma would cause your son to be rejected from graduate school if he had all the other necessary qualifications. Listen to what he's telling you, stop flogging yourself and, from now on, quit trying to bulldoze him and let him fly on his own. There is nothing to feel guilty about. With practice, you'll get the hang of it.

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