College Application Essays Help Top Students Gain Admission

College Application Essays-A day at the beach? Maybe.

College application essays are critically important. This is true whether you’re a top student with outstanding extracurriculars or an uneven student who needs to demonstrate a new-found academic seriousness.

As a college application essay coach for 15 years, I know that great essays alone cannot compensate for a poor or uneven record in most cases. At the same time, average or mediocre essays can hurt an outstanding record.

The competition these days for “top colleges” is unprecedented. Will excellent essays make the difference? It’s hard to quantify how much of a difference they make, but without them, the most selective colleges are out of reach.

Everyone knows about the Common Application essay–a new genre of its own in American life. Good news: the prompts for the coming year are the same as last year’s!

I’ve written many posts about how to approach this. But did you know that the supplemental essays are just as important these days? The more selective the universities, the more demanding and more important they are. Universities whose supplements are especially demanding: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Stanford, UChicago, Barnard. Acceptance rates to these universities are three to five percent–which means they turn down 95 percent of the applicants.

What Matters Most? 

There’s no secret sauce or magic bullet — choose your metaphor — for gaining admission to these and other top institutions. When people ask, “Does it matter if my son has taken six APs and gotten all fives on them?” Yes, it matters. But so does everything else in his/her/their record! One element will not “make the difference.”

Your application is a mosaic made up of dozens of pieces of information, both hard (grades, test scores) and soft (letters of recommendation, ECs, essays). Additional factors you have no control over include your zip code, your school district, whether you’re first generation college student, and who in these areas you are competing with.

For everyone, it’s critically important to apply widely and apply beyond your list of “reaches.” Even top students are turned down from colleges that everyone thinks they “should get into.”

As a coach, I work on college application essays with students applying across the board, from Stanford to Florida State U, from Harvard to Texas A&M. I also work with transfer students and applicants to medical school, law school, and even summer camp programs that require essays.

Acceptances This Year

This past year, I worked with many talented students who were accepted to Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Duke, Wharton (U Penn), Northwestern, Northeastern, UMichigan, UCLA, Purdue, Emory, Barnard, Colgate, Mount Holyoke, Colby, Bates, Florida State University, Arizona State University, and the College of Charleston. A student applying to medical schools was admitted to Yale, Brown, GWU, Georgetown and New York Medical College. Another client was admitted early to Columbia Law School. (I helped her with her application to Barnard some years before.)

Someone once asked me if I care more about the kids who apply to Harvard than those who apply to less selective colleges. I was shocked by the question. I care about all the students I work with, regardless of where they’re applying!

A Stanford Mom’s Testimonial:

One mother wrote to me after her son was admitted early to Stanford:
“I can’t thank you enough for working with my kid and getting the best out of him. He had no idea how to do this kind of writing, and not only did you teach him how to write college essays, but you also helped him learn how to express himself, how to make his point in 200 words (or 50!), how to tell a good story about himself, how to interpret a question and brainstorm possible ways to approach it, and so much more! (B. said you also introduced him to art/people/ideas he hadn’t been exposed to. He thinks you’re absolutely brilliant… and I agree!)
             “You also had tremendous patience and made B. feel positive about the process. He told me repeatedly how grateful he was to be working with you, and that he couldn’t imagine having a better experience doing college essays than he had with you.  We got to enjoy our relationship without too much nagging on my part, because you told me to trust you, and once I let go (with your gentle encouragement), I got to sit back and let the magic happen between you two. B’s mantra has been, “The best decision you made was getting Liz” and there’s no hyperbole there.” STANFORD CLASS OF 2028. 
             *  Read more testimonials here. 
             * Please contact me for information about your applications to college, graduate school or summer programs. Email is fast and efficient. ElizabethBenedictOK@gmail.com
             *  If for some reason you don’t hear back from me quickly, please call 1-855-99-ESSAY.