Testimonial Tuesday: Accepted to Williams College

Octavio was another pro bono success story whose personal essay about growing up biracial was brave, compelling, and inspiring. He took a risk writing about his difficult childhood, but it paid off when we learn how that early experience shaped him into who he is now: a multicultural, trilingual, bright, and empathetic leader.

We focused on cutting cliches for a concise and easy read, sticking to grammatically correct tenses and working on transitions for a smooth flow. We also made sure he showed his growth arc by dedicating more space to his leadership achievements and asking the right follow-up questions to bring his story to life. And like all of my students, we focused on creating the most impactful opening and closing lines—those are the most important impressions to leave with the admissions officers.

"Yelena helped illuminate my strengths on my personal statement, breaking my habit of cutting myself short. She used her excellent intuition to select compelling scenes, asking questions that allowed me to elaborate on my defining moments. She also helped cut my repetitions, maximizing the use of space on the very limiting word count.

"I'm extremely grateful for Yelena's help for she is one of the reasons why I'm able to have the opportunity to attend a top liberal arts school on the opposite of side of the country from where I live." -Octavio, accepted to Williams College, Middlebury College, UC San Diego, UC Irvine & Connecticut College