Introducing a New Live Admissions Essay Online Workshop!

Introducing a New Live Admissions Essay Online Workshop!

I try to help every student who reaches out to me, but I’m a one-woman business and have to limit who I work with to make sure everyone gets the most personalized attention. But all that changes next month because...

[Drumroll please…]

I’m introducing two affordable live classes this summer! Best part? I will cater to your schedules, so please let me know your timing preferences in the Google Form below.

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4 Writing Tips I Used For My Business Insider Essay

The Hollywood cheating scandal has caused widespread outrage—and for good reason. I wrote about the issues inherent in the college-industrial complex for Business Insider, from my perspective as both an admissions essay guru and as a senior who went through the application process myself. 

Though my essay is more op-ed than personal statement, I thought it would still be helpful to share the writing techniques I used to help you with your personal essay:

1) Set A Time Limit For Your First Draft

When the article was originally assigned to me, the editor gave me a strict deadline: 4 pm that day. The problem? It was already 12:30 pm. Normally, I would procrastinate until the last hour, but surprisingly, the rush nature actually helped me. After breaking out in a cold sweat, I started writing immediately. I actually wasn’t able to procrastinate because there wasn’t any time to. I knew the more I put it off, the worse off I would be since the best writing needs time for revisions. I also stuck by my motto that has been with me since senior year of high school: Write now. Revise later. Fun fact: my original opening was rewritten four times. I came up with a more personal intro at first and had no way of knowing how to connect it to the greater cheating story, but sometimes you have to start writing to figure out where the story will take you. Create this same time crunch for yourself - set an alarm for an hour and see what happens. Remember that it will be a rushed rough draft and that’s ok: that’s the whole point. You need a starting point that you can edit later.

2) Try Writing On Something Other Than Your Laptop

Real talk: I didn’t start the assignment on my laptop or even using my standing desk. I took out my phone, opened my Notes app, and started typing the story on the couch. There was something freeing about using this informal medium that allowed me to keep writing and prevented me from descending into a writer’s block of anxiety. I highly recommend starting your essay informally, whatever that means to you: maybe you write an unpublished post on your Instagram or use pen and paper in the back of your geometry notebook. Either way works because the informal nature of both tricks your brain into thinking this is no big deal and you don’t go into stress overdrive. 

3) Put It Away For a Few Days (At Least)

Spoiler alert: the 4pm deadline came and went as I was frantically editing my draft that was literally double the word count he gave me. (Yes, even professional writers struggle with these things!). I ended up turning it in too late for it to run that day, but that ended up being a blessing since I had the weekend to keep working on it. So did I write and rewrite for three days straight? Nope. That doesn’t really help, actually. You need to give yourself a break from your draft in order to edit the essay with fresh eyes. I knew I would see the piece in a new light if I took a few days away from it, so I spent most of my weekend thinking of everything but the essay. 

4) Ask No More Than 3 Trusted People to Edit It  

After taking my scheduled quarantine from the essay, I began to revise it. The few days away helped me brainstorm solutions to what wasn’t working since I had a fresh perspective on the piece. Once I got it to the best place I thought I could take it, I shared it with a few key writers who I trusted for feedback. Keep in mind that I built in time for addressing these concerns and making sure they had enough time to review it. There is such a thing as “too many cooks” with writing, so really be thoughtful about who you share your draft with. Getting too many edits from different sources can paralyze you and make you feel like the essay can’t be fixed. 

What Admissions Officers Are Looking For In Your Personal Essays

What Admissions Officers Are Looking For In Your Personal Essays

"As an admissions officer, I analyzed students' personalities. If I read an admissions essay, and the student came off as arrogant, entitled, mean, selfish, or, on the flip side, funny, charming, generous, witty, I wrote that exact trait in my notes. It's not enough just to be smart at top schools. Students must also show that they'll be good classmates and community builders."—Angela Dunnham, Former Assistant Director of Admissions, Dartmouth College [Business Insider]

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What High School Doesn't Teach You About The Admissions Essay

What High School Doesn't Teach You About The Admissions Essay

Most high schools focus on teaching you the academic essay: you know, thesis statement, supporting paragraphs, and a closing paragraph summarizing the above. There is a pretty exact formula you have to stick with and not much room for creativity. Your tone is overly formal and you are expected to cite and analyze texts for a unique argument and conclusion. The good news: You spend 4 years learning this academic skill, which is helpful and will be what you are expected to write in college. 

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Answers to Your Most Pressing Admissions Essay Questions

Answers to Your Most Pressing Admissions Essay Questions

I know you're supposed to “show don't tell.” How do I do that, exactly?
The best way to show is to use anecdotes, specific examples, and lots of detail. Telling is saying, “I am curious.” Showing is describing an anecdote where you got in trouble with your parents because you snuck into the cabinet and ate coffee beans just because you were curious. Picture your essay as a screenplay and that will help.

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Admissions Essay Gimmicks Not to Fall For (The Hashtag Essay is Not a Thing)

Admissions Essay Gimmicks Not to Fall For (The Hashtag Essay is Not a Thing)

Writing the admissions essay is so stressful that I don't blame students for reading about seemingly easy, out-of-the-box approaches and thinking, well, if it worked for this guy, why not me? The problem with such methods, though, is you're not the only one thinking that. Once an admissions trick becomes a trend (and a national news story), it's no longer out of the box. Translation: instead of looking creative, you look lazy.

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Stuck On Your Essay? This Writing Mantra Will Save You

Stuck On Your Essay? This Writing Mantra Will Save You

The hardest part about writing is getting out of your own head and silencing your inner critic. This quote helps remind you that all you can do now is word-vomit your first draft and then take time later to finesse it into perfection. 

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BOO: 4 Scary Personal Essay Mistakes To Avoid

BOO: 4 Scary Personal Essay Mistakes To Avoid

In honor of last night's Halloween shenanigans, let's talk about terrifying mistakes not to make in your admissions essay. As someone who helps students brag about themselves for their admissions essays, I’ve realized there’s a fine line between impressing someone and irritating them. So what do you do when the cover letter practically begs you to be #blessed all over the place? Check out our killer tips for wowing their socks off without turning them off. 

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Why This Ivy League Admissions Essay is Going Viral

Why This Ivy League Admissions Essay is Going Viral

Your parents may be asking if you heard about high-school senior Brittany Stinson, who is making the Internet rounds for her acceptance to not one, but FIVE Ivy League schools (Yale, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, and Cornell). Oh, and Stanford, which has an acceptance rate of 4.69%. 

The lucky overachiever spoke with Business Insider to explain how she came up with her winning essay topic about...Costco. Yup the wholesale giant suburban parents swear by. Here's what you can learn from her brilliant idea. 

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Where to Start: 4 Ways To Choose Your Admissions Essay Topic

Where to Start: 4 Ways To Choose Your Admissions Essay Topic

The hardest part of any writing assignment is where to start—even for professional writers. The pressure is even worse when it's the one essay that could help determine your future.

Be prepared to go through multiple topics and even drafts before landing the right approach. (It's a little easier if you have some help). I recommend using the summer to start writing and see what clicks. The topic should reveal who you are, what you're passionate about, and how it makes you the perfect fit at your dream school.

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The Admissions Essay Mistake You Can't Make

The Admissions Essay Mistake You Can't Make

The New York Times recently revealed a major red flag in the admissions essay: the cliched community service trip. In Frank Bruni's column, "To Get to Harvard, Go to Haiti?" he explains how disingenuous that idea comes across:

It turns developing-world hardship into a prose-ready opportunity for growth, empathy into an extracurricular activity.
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7 Things Admissions Officers Wants to See In Your Application Essay

7 Things Admissions Officers Wants to See In Your Application Essay

Admissions officers can seem like distant mythical creatures who are impossible to impress. The truth is, they're just trying to find the right fit for their college as much as you are. And luckily, they escape their mystical perch every now & then to spill some insider info. They recently spoke to The Washington Post about what they're looking for.

Show Your Personality
"I look for beautiful, clear writing that comes to life on the essay page and offers insight into the character and personality of the student. Beware of being someone you are not in the essay." --Martha Blevins Allman, Wake Forest University dean of admissions

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