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Expert College Essay Guidance

I will partner with you to perfect your essays and present a consistent, authentic and multidimensional impression of you. The college application process is often overwhelming and confusing, especially if you haven’t had family or close friends go through the process recently. One of the main stress points is likely to be writing the 650-word Common Application essay; however, since this essay offers tremendous flexibility in terms of topics, starting with this essay often unleashes creativity and brainstorming which is also helpful later when writing the supplements.

Common Application Essay

Often students struggle with choosing a topic and feeling their topic choice is unimpressive — not realizing that the topic itself matters less than what your narrative conveys about you as a person. Some of the most impressive and memorable essays I have read were about “simple” topics but conveyed powerful impressions of the applicant. For example:

  • One applicant highlighted his struggle to maintain his Taiwanese identity (despite being born in America) by describing his favorite ethnic cuisine.

  • One applicant showed her humor and resilience by relaying the times she studied for exams using the light of glow sticks since her family was unable to pay the electric bills.

  • One applicant revealed her empathy and resourcefulness by explaining how she charted her father’s depression cycles in order to determine when and how best to interact with him.

  • One applicant showed her creativity and reflectiveness by comparing the stress point in a cello string to her own optimal stress balance.

  • One applicant revealed his humor and self-confidence by describing when — at 7 years old — he dressed up in his father’s suit and cologne and unexpectedly “joined” his CEO dad at a home-business meeting.

Supplemental Essays

Do not make the mistake of undervaluing these mini-essays! Answers to these questions round out an overall impression of you and allow you to highlight additional information about yourself — your personality, academic interests, extracurricular talents, etc. In addition, supplemental essay prompts often ask you to explain why you would be a good fit for the school. Although it may sound obvious, you must research the schools you are applying to, so you can succinctly and sincerely show the many ways you will be an asset to their community. The more specific and detailed you are about why you would be an awesome fit, the more convincing and desirable you become.


When your supplemental essays are viewed collectively with your Common Application essay, it is critical that a consistent — but multifaceted — impression of you emerges which emphasizes the many ways you would be a wonderful addition to the school. We will hone your answers to ensure there is consistency without redundancy and multidimensionality without incongruity.

The following approach helps to demystify and kick start the writing process:

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Getting to know you

I would like to hear about your happy memories, your struggles, your triumphs, your dreams, and your interests. Together, we will discover the experiences most meaningful to you. We will reflect on those memories and choose the topic you are most passionate about.

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Evaluating Key Elements

What — specifically — do you want admissions to understand about you? What is important about you and your candidacy which is not obvious in the rest of your application? Which key points about your chosen topic best create that impression? Which essay structure achieves the maximum impact?

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Don’t hinder yourself and think the initial drafts need to be perfect. Just write down thoughts and elaborate on them – unedited, uncensored, unhesitant. A first draft WILL emerge!

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We’ll consider tone, opening hooks, one-line paragraphs, imagery, italics, action / strong verbs, active voice, sentence length and sentence structure variation, showing vs. telling… it all matters! 


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