Two reasons. Number one: the college essay is important—very important. The college application essay may be the single most important piece of writing you will ever do. It can make or break your college application, and its importance is growing year by year. More than any time in history, you will be competing with a great many students who have equally good grades, test scores, and interesting extra-curricular activities. The essay is how you separate yourself from the pack. This is especially true if you’re applying to fairly prestigious institutions, which are forced to give extra weight to the essay because of the number of impressive applications they receive.
Reason number two: the college essay is hard. Writing an effective college essay presents a serious challenge. You are given just a few hundred words to give an admissions officer an insight into your personality, identity, interests, and aspirations—and to make the case that the college would be better with you there. That’s a tall order!
Because the college essay is both critically important and shockingly difficult, the process can be stressful, to say the least. Conflict with parents over the essay is quite common. The job of a professional college essay coach is to make this experience less stressful and more successful.
Since students apply to different numbers of schools and have different needs, the cost of essay coaching varies. I offer both start-to-finish essay coaching, as well as à la carte services (e.g., just brainstorming, just editing, etc.). For start-to-finish essay coaching, I charge $1200 for a common application essay, and I charge by the hour for additional work (e.g., University of California short-answer essays and other schools’ supplemental questions). For à la carte essay coaching, I charge by the hour.
Yes! I’ve helped a number of students successfully apply to graduate, medical, and dental school.
A college essay coach provides expert, personalized support to help you write the most effective and authentic essay possible. An essay coach helps you tell your story in your voice, to show admissions officers who you are and what you would contribute to the campus community.
Of course! But it’s a little like asking these people to cut your hair. Assuming they’re not professional hair stylists, the result may not be too bad, but…well, you get the idea. If you’re invested in the outcome of your college applications, and I’m guessing you are, it’s wise to work with a professional, if at all possible.
Yes, it is entirely legal and ethical, just as SAT coaching is, for example. SAT coaches won’t take the test for you, and college essay coaches won’t write your essay for you—they aren’t ghostwriters. That said, there are plenty of mediocre college essay coaches who may be good writers, but their clients often submit overly polished “writerly”-sounding essays that make admissions officers doubt the essays’ personal authenticity.
If you decide to work with a professional college essay coach, you MUST find one who has all of the following qualifications:
- Has professional experience and a track record of success
- Is knowledgeable about the college admissions process and what admissions officers are looking for
- Enjoys getting to know high school students (very important!)
- Is not only a superlative writer, but has a knack for identifying and inhabiting their clients’ own voice and writing style (a rare ability, even among strong writers).
For detail on how the coaching process works, take a look at the How It Works page on this website. In brief, the coaching process involves:
- Preparation – The coach getting to know you personally, brainstorming, planning, organizing
- Drafting – You write the first draft
- Revision – Multiple cycles of feedback, editing, and revision
- Proofreading – Resulting in a polished final draft and final submission!
Advice on college essay writing is everywhere, as are descriptions of the ideal essay (“Your essay should be… X, Y, and Z.”). I like to keep things simple and memorable: Struggling with the college essay? I have “A CURE.” Your essay should be Authentic, Captivating, Unique, Relevant, and Elegant.
Your essay should feel authentically true to who you are. If should feel like someone managed to put you on the page. Many students make the mistake of trying too hard to impress. Admissions officers know you’re a real person, perfectly imperfect like the rest of us.
College admissions officers begin forming their impression of you after the first line. Your essay should grab this person’s attention from the get-go.
Imagine being an admissions officer who spends all day reading generic essay after generic essay. Boring! Yours must stand out in some way.
We can’t forget that the college essay has a specific purpose: to make the case that you will be a successful college student and that you will enrich the campus community. What you discuss in your essay must be relevant this purpose in some way.
Written in your own voice and style, your essay should be a pleasure to read. It should flow smoothly and be error-free.
This is an important question but one that can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, you should pick the prompt that allows you to tell the story you want to tell—the story that reveals an important dimension of who you are, what you’ve done, and what you want for your future.