Jonathan was another hard-working pro bono student with major success! We started working together in the summer to make sure he had a head start in the grueling application process. I think the reason his essay was so powerful is because he shared his struggles with a brave vulnerability and, more importantly, showed how he triumphed despite them.
In my edit, I condensed many of the sentences to avoid wordiness (one of the most common mistakes - even for professional writers!). I also corrected any grammar mistakes and careless errors, while cutting any lines that were confusing or unnecessary. Much of my editing revolves cutting anything that doesn’t work, so you should always write more than you think you need to. We also clarified any details about the timeline or context to make sure the reader had a sense of time and place throughout the entire narrative. Finally, we also worked on deepening the self-reflection with follow-up questions to get at the heart of the story. (I recommend journaling with a pen and paper - that always gets your subconscious going! Ask yourself why you felt that way or how you realized that).
After we finished our edits, he wrote, “I looked over the final draft of my personal statement and am really happy with it. Thank you so much for all your help throughout this whole process! This really means a lot and, because of you, a great deal of stress has been lifted off my shoulders when I think about my college essays.” So I asked him to write something about working together for my website and he brought tears to my eyes with what he sent me below:
“When I was given the opportunity to work with Yelena, I was eager to see who she was. I did some research and her accomplishments amazed me. However, what amazed me even more was what she had to go through to achieve her accomplishments. While working with her, it became obvious that her experience growing up as a low- income immigrant is truly the driving force behind the thoughtful and comprehensive approach she takes when editing her student's essays. She values the stories of her those she works with and has a talent for amplifying the key components of the stories to make sure that the unique character of each student shines through. Her phone calls and detailed revisions are just examples of the lengths she is willing to travel for her students. She made sure my voice was always coming through in my essays.
“I now have work that I am proud of sharing with others. I have received numerous compliments from teachers and mentors not only on how well-written my essays were, but how much the story I tell reveals about me. Yelena provided me with more certainty than ever before about the college application process. I am glad to have worked with someone who actually cares about the success of those she works with, because she herself knows how difficult applying to college can be. She knows how much an individual’s experiences and interests matter. I would recommend Yelena to just about anyone looking for help with the application essays. She is caring, smart, and devoted. She will not let you down, she surely went beyond my expectations.”
-Jonathan , accepted to Brown, Pomona, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Wesleyan, Middlebury, Kenyon, and Connecticut College