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The College Essay

The college essay may be the most stressful part of applying to college.  Even the moniker “Common App” creates a false sense of security.  Initially students think “oh—it’s just one 650 word essay—what’s the big deal?”.  The "big deal" is verbalized here by several admissions officers*:


 “Amherst is a very verbal place—we’re committed to the written word.  This means that the essay is of utmost importance to the application.”

~~Katie Fretwell, Amherst


“Absolutely Crucial.”

~Rick Shaw, Stanford


"If you have 18- or 20,000 applicants, for some of those students, the essay makes a huge difference, both positively and negatively.”

~Parke Muth, University of Virginia


“Every year, it seems that the gray area of the applicant pool gets bigger and bigger.  The more it grows, the more important the essay becomes in helping admission committees distinguish among qualified candidates.

~Kimberly Van Deuse, William and Mary


Students are stunned to discover the sheer number of essays they are required to write.  While 650 words on the Common App essay doesn’t sound like a lot, if a student is applying to 10 colleges, he or she may ultimately confront nearly 40 essays of one type or another including:

  • Supplemental essays

  • Program specific essay

  • Short answer essays

  • Music and art portfolio essays

  • Scholarship essays


Most of these essays do not appear on the Common App, and many students find it time consuming simply mapping out which colleges require which essays.  We will help students navigate this tedious process and be sure they have captured all the essays required of them. 


Preparing for interviews and crafting essays go hand-in-hand.  We help students voice their own authentic stories in which they will:

  • Prewrite:

    • Brainstorm compelling topics

    • Discover strengths

    • Create a self-outline

  • Draft:

    • Craft irresistible opening sentences.

    • Unearth intriguing examples.

    • Strengthen descriptive language.  

  • Edit:

    • Identify and avoid trite and overused phrases.

    • Perfect syntax and word choice.

    • Adhere to length requirements.

    • Avoid typos and poor grammar!


Please let us know how we can help your student.


* Reprinted from “How to Get into the Top Colleges”, Montauk, Richard, J.D. 

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