Write Your College App Essay

How to write your college app essay can feel like an unfathomable mystery. Which Common App essay prompt to pick? Where to start? What do colleges want to know? How to stand out?

As a novelist, journalist, editor and longtime writing coach, I help students convey who they are in their Common App and other application essays. They come to me with their accomplishments and ambitions — and we go from there. I give them a series of focused sessions, clear assignments, and on-screen time together. They learn writing and editing techniques and ways to translate their interests and their uniqueness to the page.

I do not have assistants reading student work, and I take only enough clients that I can give each one my full attention.

Whether you’re applying to Cal Tech, Clemson, or CUNY, the college application essay is a unique – and uniquely intimidating – piece of the admissions puzzle. Beyond your grades, test scores, and extra-curricular activities, the essay is your opportunity to speak directly to the admissions committee about who you are, in 500 to 1000 words in your voice and your words.

And there is this: Most students are applying to colleges within the Common Application Organization system, where they begin with what’s known as The Common App Essay. But that’s often only the beginning of the essay writing process, as many colleges have additional essays known as supplemental essays. Still other colleges are outside the Common App orbit, including MIT, the University of California system (nine colleges), and the University of Texas. Those require different sets of essays. There may be many essays involved, but the overall rubric is The College App Essay.

Whatever number of college essays you write, they are your chance to make a unique impression and round out who you are. Stellar students can show an interesting mind at work, reveal a backstory that isn’t apparent, and present writing ability that’s critical for college success . Students with more of a mixed record can reveal interests and perhaps explain their history and circumstances.

My job is not to write and edit your college app essays, but to help you find your material, your essay subjects, your voice, your organization, and your words.

I work with clients at every stage of the process, depending on your needs and your deadlines.

If you don’t have a clue how to begin your application essay, we start at the beginning. If you’re on your third draft and something’s just not coming together, we start there. My services are tailor-made to your needs. One size does not fit all, but there are common techniques and strategies I’ve developed to move through the many phases of the process. Among them:

  • We review the schools you’re applying to and attempt to winnow down the number of individual essays you will need.

  • We review your application to make sure that the essay does not repeat information that’s presented elsewhere.

  • In a brainstorming session, we will go through the essay prompts – usually starting with the Common Application or the other central prompts you are required to do – and locate your best material. I do not impose subjects on you; I work with you to find material that best represents who are you and how you want to present yourself to colleges.

  • Once we’ve decided on what you’ll write, I provide a unique framework in which you can write organize, edit, and polish your essays.

  • You’ll come away with essays you can be proud of, essays that present your best self to the world,  and lifelong lessons in good writing.

Email or call me to find out more about how I can help you write your college essays. ElizabethBenedictOK@gmail.com and 1-855-99-ESSAY.

The pandemic has accustomed us to communicating online, but long before COVID, most of my work with students was online. I work with students as far away as Hong Kong — and as close as Boston and Chagrin Falls, Ohio (really!). Even through the screen, the students and I develop real relationships. There’s good conversation, laughter, serious work, and best of all, I help students become more confident, capable writers and achieve their college goals.