In test-optional college admissions, your essays are more powerful than ever.
I coach students to craft memorable essays that capture attention.
Table of Contents
- The new power of college essays
- Why work with a college essay coach?
- What exactly does “college essay” mean?
- What are your qualifications?
- What is your essay coaching process like?
- Can you help me brainstorm and choose topics?
- Can you edit my writing?
- What if I’m a weak writer? Can you help me with the actual writing?
- Can you help me write a college essay that will get me into Harvard, Princeton, Duke, etc?
- When should I start writing my essays, activities list, and supplements??
The new power of college essays
As more and more high-achieving students compete for the same number of places at selective colleges, essays command greater importance every year. Faced with thousands of qualified applicants with high GPAs and advanced coursework, college admissions must look beyond your academic transcript to decide which students to accept.
Back in 2011, The New York Times op-ed “The Almighty Essay” reported that the college essay outweighed a student’s GPA as a decisive factor among the most selective schools. Today, with test scores optional at the majority of colleges and universities, your essays are an even more persuasive piece of your application.
That might sound like more pressure, but it’s actually a fantastic advantage. With the right guidance, you can craft essays that capture your most vibrant qualities — defining you as someone your admissions reader wants to personally welcome to campus.
You already have the stories to do that! Read on below for how an essay coach helps you choose, develop, and layer those stories throughout your application.
“On top of all my offers, I was awarded a combined total of $348,000 in merit-based scholarships! There is no doubt in my mind that my essay helped me get into these schools, and I could not be happier with the opportunity and choice it has provided me with. Thank you, Jane!”
Why work with a college essay coach?
Most high school students today are at a disadvantage. They’ve learned to write argumentative and analytical papers, but they have very little or no experience writing personal narrative.
A college essay is not an academic paper. There’s no trusty 5-paragraph formula. And it isn’t just any personal essay. Only a handful of students are lucky enough to have an English teacher who assigns a practice college essay. And most college counselors simply do not have time to provide the detailed feedback students need to craft standout essays, line by line, draft by draft.
With the guidance of a college essay coach, students learn to select compelling, uncommon essay topics. They compose a unique personal statement that captures who they are. They develop a vibrant activities list that conveys personality, values, quirks, and impact. And they write exceptional supplemental essays that make them distinctive, memorable applicants for each school.
The written sections of the application are extremely powerful in helping students earn the attention and recognition they’ve worked so hard for. A college essay coach ensures that all those essays (long and short) enhance the student’s applications overall.
“Jane is adept at helping young people discover and compose unique personal stories that stand out on the college admissions desk. Her work with our students has been tremendous.”
The term “college essay” is frequently used to mean “personal statement” — the main essay required by virtually all colleges and universities.
Actually, “college essay” now means ALL types of writing for college applications. That includes (deep breath!) supplemental essays, short responses, the COVID section, Additional Information section, scholarship and honors program essays, and especially the Activities and Honors sections of the Common Application and Coalition Application.
It also(!) includes the Personal Insight (PIQ) essays on the UC application, the UCAS personal statement for UK schools, and even letters of continued interest (LOCI) for deferrals and waitlists.
Each piece of written content is an opportunity to vividly define yourself to college admissions officers. Each piece calls for a little something different. An essay coach makes these fine distinctions clear and achievable.
I’m a seasoned essay coach with over 12 years of experience. From 2010 to 2018, I taught classes on writing the college essay in Phillips Exeter Academy’s pre-college program. I’ve reviewed admissions folders not only at Exeter but for several consulting agencies, and I’ve coached private clients since 2008.
As your coach, I am a passionate advocate for you every step of the way. I invest in learning who you are as a person, student, and applicant. I help you discover how to highlight your unique strengths and personality – to get you noticed by every school on your list! Finally, I use my insider’s knowledge of the admissions process to help you stay calm, informed, and optimistic throughout the process.
My process is simple and flexible. We meet virtually, and we work together via shared Google documents. I ask questions, listen intently, and read your work closely. I give clear feedback to guide you through each stage of writing – on your main essay, and on every other essay you have to write. I also check in weekly, by email and text, keeping you focused, on track, and excited.
Every student is unique, so my coaching will be a little different for everyone. I will guide you through brainstorming and topic selection, rough drafts and revisions, to polishing your final drafts for submission.
Absolutely! Brainstorming and topic selection is a critically important stage of the process. Most students tend to rush this stage, stressing about early deadlines. I help you to relax and choose wisely. To help you generate a list of compelling, uncommon topics, I select special prompts and techniques that will work best for you.
Finally, I guarantee I will NOT let you settle for an ordinary, so-so essay. We’ll work together until we find the topics that strengthen your applications.
Yes! The word “edit” can be slippery, though. I give you detailed feedback and guidance on each line, each draft. I suggest where you can clarify an idea, add detail or context. I point out clichés, contradictions, bumpy grammar, and missing words. I help you trim unnecessary words, and make sure you submit clean, glorious, error-free essays.
However, I do not “correct” or rewrite your sentences for you. I don’t write opening lines, or closing lines, or any lines in between. Your finished essays will be shining, distinctive statements of who you are – written by you, not me.
Every year, I have students who tell me “I’m not a good writer” or even “I’m a terrible writer”—and they produce beautiful essays that get noticed.
Some essay advisors edit your writing aggressively. They change your actual words, rewrite your paragraphs, and polish away your unique voice. That is a HUGE mistake. Admissions officers can spot a “professional job” – and they don’t like it. If they suspect that Mom or Dad or somebody else wrote your essay, it puts your application at serious risk. Every piece of writing in a successful application sounds like YOU, the authentic voice of a thoughtful high school senior — not a professional adult writer.
Nope! I cannot guarantee you will be accepted into your dream school. No honest person who works in the field of college admissions can, should, or will give you that guarantee. (If anyone makes you promises like that, you should immediately cease contact. Seriously.)
I DO guarantee that:
I will help you find those elusive, one-of-a-kind, killer essay topics.
I will give feedback that is both enthusiastic and honest, even if it means you need to take a step back and rethink your approach.
I will keep you on track and optimistic. You can do this!
We will polish your essays until we both feel satisfied and eager to put them out into the world!
Year after year, my students are accepted into top-ranked colleges and universities because every part of their applications was a strong, vibrant reflection of who they are and what they can do in life. My students deserve the acceptances they get mostly because they’ve worked hard, but I’m very proud to have helped them present themselves in the smartest, most distinctive ways possible on their applications. I look forward to doing the same for you!
Many students reach out to me in June or July to start brainstorming topics for their main essay. I advise students to begin writing in August, and have a first or second draft of their personal statement completed in September. I suggest you also begin supplemental and additional essays around then, along with your activities list.
If you’re a little behind that timeline, don’t panic! Every year, I help students get back on track.
And if you’re ahead in the process – like, you’ve already written a draft, or already submitted an early application – that’s awesome! I work with students at all stages of their application writing.
You can book a free consultation at any time of the year. I’m always glad to answer questions, help you plan a schedule, and share advice.