Adam reached out for help with his transfer application essay, which is quite different from the regular undergraduate Common App essay. In the transfer essay, you have to state concrete reasons for why your current school is no longer the best fit for you and your new objectives without sounding negative or superficial—which is no easy task.
In our work together, we focused on making the opening and closing line to be as compelling as possible since they set the first and final impression. The original versions felt too broad and generic to work. I also asked for more detail and context than he thought we might need. You don’t want the admissions officers to feel confused about the time and place being described at every point in the essay. For that reason, we added in more time/place markers throughout in addition to digging deeper and giving us the “why” for everything he wrote. For example, show us how you suddenly realized your revelation instead of just telling us it happened. It’s harder to be invested in the narrator’s growth without that necessary self-reflection. Admissions officers expect a higher level of maturity in a transfer essay, so diving deeper into past motivations is crucial in showing that growth.
From a strategy perspective, Adam needed to rewrite his reasons for transferring to sound less negative and more proactive and positive. The personal statement needs the right tone and he needed to sound like he took accountability for any past mistakes in addition to doing everything he could to make the most of his current situation. Anything else will read like a red flag to admissions officers. Another point of concern was his negativity regarding his current college. It’s a difficult balance to strike, for sure, but you have to be very concrete in what change you’re looking for so it doesn’t sound like you’re just bad-mouthing your current situation (or worse, not appreciating it for superficial reasons like ranking).
I was so happy my edit helped and I’m so honored to share his testimonial below:
“Yelena was easy to work with, fast at responding, and provided helpful and honest feedback. She gave me not only grammar and sentence structure suggestions, but also objective feedback on content and a strategy to tell my story in the best way possible. Because of her, I was able to avoid numerous faux pas and mistakes that could have ruined my application. She helped me refine my tone and convey my best self while being authentic. It was super worth it, I highly recommend getting an outside perspective and Yelena is a great person to do that.”
-Adam, accepted to Cornell and Northwestern as a Transfer