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10 Great Essay Writing Tips

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Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses. Impress your professors with your knowledge and skill by using these great essay writing tips.

Prepare to Answer the Question

Most college essays ask you to answer a question or synthesize information you learned in class. Review notes you have from lectures, read the recommended texts and make sure you understand the topic. You should refer to these sources in your essay.

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Plan Your Essay

Many students see planning as a waste of time, but it actually saves you time. Take a few minutes to think about the topic and what you want to say about it. You can write an outline, draw a chart or use a graphic organizer to arrange your ideas. This gives you a chance to spot problems in your ideas before you spend time writing out the paragraphs.

Choose a Writing Method That Feels Comfortable

You might have to type your essay before turning it in, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it that way. Some people find it easy to write out their ideas by hand. Others prefer typing in a word processor where they can erase and rewrite as needed. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.

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View It as a Conversation

Writing is a form of communication, so think of your essay as a conversation between you and the reader. Think about your response to the source material and the topic. Decide what you want to tell the reader about the topic. Then, stay focused on your response as you write.

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Provide the Context in the Introduction

If you look at an example of an essay introduction, you’ll see that the best essays give the reader a context. Think of how you introduce two people to each other. You share the details you think they will find most interesting. Do this in your essay by stating what it’s about and then telling readers what the issue is.

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Explain What Needs to be Explained

Sometimes you have to explain concepts or define words to help the reader understand your viewpoint. You also have to explain the reasoning behind your ideas. For example, it’s not enough to write that your greatest achievement is running an ultra marathon. You might need to define ultra marathon and explain why finishing the race is such an accomplishment.

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Answer All the Questions

After you finish writing the first draft of your essay, make sure you’ve answered all the questions you were supposed to answer. For example, essays in compare and contrast format should show the similarities and differences between ideas, objects or events. If you’re writing about a significant achievement, describe what you did and how it affected you.

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Stay Focused as You Write

Writing requires concentration. Find a place where you have few distractions and give yourself time to write without interruptions. Don’t wait until the night before the essay is due to start working on it.

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Read the Essay Aloud to Proofread

When you finish writing your essay, read it aloud. You can do this by yourself or ask someone to listen to you read it. You’ll notice places where the ideas don’t make sense, and your listener can give you feedback about your ideas.

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Avoid Filling the Page with Words

A great essay does more than follow an essay layout. It has something to say. Sometimes students panic and write everything they know about a topic or summarize everything in the source material. Your job as a writer is to show why this information is important.


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14 Best College Essay Services for 2023 (40 Services Reviewed)

Not sure which college application essay coaching and editing service is the best? We compared the top 40 services, created in-depth reviews for 14 of them, and narrowed it down to the 4 best that will help guide you through the process of writing amazing college application essays.

What is the Best College Essay Service?

The best of the rest:

Individual essay consultants:

Mid-size teams:

Large platforms:

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Schedule a college essay consultation

Best College Application Essay Services in 2022

#1 – prepmaven.

Our Verdict — Best College Essay Assistance Overall Price: $79–349/hour (minimum $510 package) PrepMaven’s one-on-one college essay assistance is the best option overall. Founded by brothers and Princeton grads Greg and Kevin, almost all of PrepMaven’s essay coaches have Ivy-League experience, primarily from Princeton and Harvard. All essay coaches also undergo a thorough training program in PrepMaven’s methods, developed by professional writers with deep understanding of the college admissions process, for helping students to discover the most compelling stories for their essays. Unlike other services, PrepMaven offers college essay assistance at several different price points. At the most accessible rate, students can work with current Ivy-League undergraduates who specialize in writing and have recently aced the college application process. At higher rates, students can work with coaches who are both Ivy-League grads and professional writers (screenwriters, journalists, editors) with many years of experience helping students to craft compelling essays. Interested students can even work directly with founders Greg and Kevin, who have over 15 years of experience helping students through the entire essay-writing process. PrepMaven’s services combine many of the best features of other good options into one, and it’s hard to beat their experience.

Sign up for PrepMaven’s college essay help now

Any student wanting college essay help, at any point in the process, with a range of budgets.

At a glance:

What we like:

Sign up for PrepMaven’s college essay help

Princeton University

#2 – College Essay Mentor

Our Verdict — Best of the Individual Consultants Price: unknown but high Some college essay consulting services consist of just one expert. Of these individual essay consultants, Chris Hunt at College Essay Mentor is our favorite. He combines writing experience as a journalist for the Economist and the Wall Street Journal with personal experience as a graduate of Dartmouth. However, he only works with a small number of students each year, and students need to apply to work with him — he only accepts students with top grades and test scores who are already strong applicants for top schools. Chris offers the option for one-time written feedback, but this only gives big-picture generalizations. (And written-only feedback is always limited.) In order for help with the essay process, students need to purchase a complete essay package.

Students with top grades and test scores who want to work with a one-person business, who have a sizable budget, and who are ready to get started early.

What we don’t like:

#3 – The College Essay Guy

Our Verdict — Best for Unlimited Essay Assistance Price: $7400 for application for 10 schools We’re fans of Ethan Sawyer, the original “college essay guy”— his book, College Essay Essentials , is a great guide to the essay-writing process. Ethan doesn’t work directly with many students these days, but he now has a team of consultants who help students follow his principles. Their assistance is really all-or-nothing — they prefer to work with students from the very beginning of the process, and their minimum package is $4900, which includes assistance with essays for three schools. If students are applying to ten schools (a more realistic number for students aiming at competitive colleges), the fee is a hefty $7400.

Students who want unlimited help through the entire process, who have a sizable budget.

#4 – College Vine

Our Verdict — Best of the Big Platforms Price: $170–190/hour There are plenty of large platforms with large stables of part-time tutors and coaches available to work with students. Of these big platforms, we think CollegeVine has the best offerings. Compared to other large companies, CollegeVine provides more information about their tutors, and students can pick individual tutors to work with from their roster. However, this model is really just a way of finding individual tutors to hire. Tutors don’t receive any training and don’t share a common approach, so it’s a mixed bag. Their rates are fairly high for part-time tutors who don’t have specific expertise and training in college essay consulting. We also recommend working with college essay consultants with a clear code of ethics stating that they will not make edits directly on the essay documents for the students. It’s unclear to what degree the editors with CollegeVine follow these principles.

Students who want to work with a big company.

College Essay Editing Alternatives (that Didn’t Make the Cut)

Individual essay consultants, #5 – college essay editor.

Our Verdict — Small Editing Team Price: $4777 for application to 10 schools College Essay Editor comprises two graduates of Stanford. This means that they have personal experience applying to highly competitive schools. One member of the team also has a college counseling certification, which is a good background for college essays. Based on their website, they appear to focus on the editing and proofreading phase of the essay-writing process. This can be helpful to students, but we recommend working with a service who can help students to uncover their values and brainstorm really great material that allows them to really shine—and if this doesn’t happen at the beginning of the process, it’s much harder to add in later on.

#6 – Allison Karpf

Our Verdict — Former English Teacher Helping Students Price: $300/hour or $3000 package for application to one school Another option for students looking to hire an individual consultant is Allison Karpf. Allison is a former high school English teacher and a graduate of UC Berkeley who also holds a Masters of Education from Stanford. Her rates are definitely on the higher side, especially for someone who didn’t attend an Ivy-Plus school as an undergraduate herself and who doesn’t have a professional writing background, but she does have extensive experience working with students to craft their essays.

#7 – Your College Vision

Our Verdict: Former Journalist with More Affordable Rates Price: $150/hour (minimum 10 hours), or $3800 package for application to seven schools Laurie Lande is another individual consultant who helps students through the essay-writing process. She comes recommended by other consultants like Chris from College Essay Mentor . Laurie did not herself attend a highly competitive school, so she doesn’t have that personal experience of going through the selective admissions process, but she does have a professional writing background as a journalist for the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong.

#8 – The College Guru

Our Verdict — Good on Paper but Unresponsive Price: unknown Yet another individual essay consultant is Geanine Thompson from The College Guru. Geanine attended Dartmouth as an undergraduate and also holds an MBA from Duke. She also has a professional writing background as an assistant book editor at Berkley Publishing Group. Like Greg and Kevin at PrepMaven , she combines experience in the business world and at Wall Street firms with experience in education.

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Mid-size Teams

#9 – college essay advisors.

Our Verdict — No Highly-Selective Experience Price: unknown Also operating under the name Admissions Essay Advising, College Essay Advisors is a mid-size company which seems to have a good perspective on the essay process, and their chief advisor is a certified college counselor. However, their editors are not from Ivy-Plus schools , so they don’t have the personal experience of going through the selective admissions process. They also don’t have professional writing experience.

#10 – Lotus Learning

Our Verdict — Focus on Health Sciences Price: $165/hour Founded by a Harvard grad who is a former teacher and veteran of the publishing industry, Lotus learning offers college essay help in the Boston area. They have a small team of tutors, mostly recent grads from good but not Ivy-Plus colleges, and mostly with focus in health sciences.

Large platforms

#11 – study point.

Our Verdict — Larger Platform with Mystery Editors Price: unknown Study Point is a larger essay editing service. They claim to have several decades of experience helping students to craft their college essays, but they do not give information about who their essay coaches are and what qualifications they might have.

#12 – Ivy Select

Our Verdict — Larger Platform with Mystery Editors Price: unknown Ivy Select is another larger essay editing service. They do not give information about who their essay coaches are and what qualifications they might have.

#13 – Empowerly

Our Verdict — Larger Platform with Mystery Editors Price: unknown Empowerly has over 60 college counselors who each work with an average of 5 students per year, in order to have more time to devote to each student. Their counselors come from “different educational backgrounds,” and while they do not provide specific biographical details we can assume that most of their essay coaches did not attend highly selective schools.

#14 – BeMo

Our Verdict — Expensive and Aggressive with Wrong Expertise Price: $2997–12797 BeMo is a large admissions company based in Toronto, Canada. They focus primarily on admissions to medical schools and science graduate programs in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. Their rates are expensive, and they justify these by pointing out potential high earnings decades later as a doctor. Past customers have commented that their “school selection consultation” doesn’t provide any information specific to the individual student or schools. They do provide a training process for their essay consultants, but their essay consultants do not have training as college counselors, do not have experience as professional writers, and did not attend Ivy-Plus schools . They have been known to be very aggressive with their marketing emails, and have included some strange language in their sales pitches that seems inappropriate for high school students.

Top 40 College Essay Services Considered

* A number of services will edit essays directly for students, or even write portions of the essay for students. We do not condone this. Admissions officers can tell when essays have been written or edited by adults and this can have severe consequences. We have excluded these services from our reviews.

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Why are college application essays important?

Can a great college essay alone get you into Harvard?

No. You’ll need your grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities (as well as letters of recommendation and interview) to be outstanding.

But can a mediocre essay be the reason you didn’t get into Harvard?

Yes. There are thousands of amazingly-qualified students who graduate from high school each year. Great grades and test scores might be a prerequisite for admission to a competitive college, but they alone aren’t enough.

Harvard University

College essays are a key component of a student’s application . When done well, they transform a collection of numbers—GPA, class rank, SAT or ACT scores , number of AP classes taken, AP scores—into a glimpse of a real, individual person.

Essays do many things. Good college essays can highlight extracurricular achievements which otherwise would be overlooked in a sterile list. Strong essays often indicate the student’s future plans —how they plan to leave a mark on their college campus and on the world. They can shine a light on unique challenges that a student may have had to face on their journey.

College admissions officers only have a few minutes to spend on each application. College essays need to be original, interesting, and memorable . They need to grab the attention of the admissions officer and persuade them that this is the student out of hundreds or thousands of other similarly-qualified applicants who should be admitted.

College admissions essays are usually unlike any other kind of writing that students have done before. They’re a combination of memoir and marketing pitch, and they need to be creative but also highly strategic. That’s a tough assignment!

What’s more, students are left to figure this assignment out on their own. A thoughtful and generous high school English teacher may provide guidance or offer to read essays and give feedback, but these teachers are responsible for many students, and they’re (usually) not experts in admissions strategies.

Princeton University

Why work with a college essay service?

You may want to consider a college essay service if:

Any of these are strong reasons to consider working with a college essay service!

It’s important to note that a good college essay service will not write your college application essays for you . This is unethical and illegal. 

A good college essay service will guide you through each step of the process , teaching you how to self-reflect and write well while sharing insider insight about admissions strategy .

Yale University

What makes a good college essay service?

We strongly believe that students need to write their own college essays , and we do not condone plagiarism or “buying” a college essay.

However, writing college application essays requires a completely new set of skills that is rarely taught in high school!

Writing a personal essay is much more creative than simply writing a good paper for English class. It requires a compelling narrative and a great deal of writing craft . A good essay service will teach how to do this kind of writing.

There are many college essay services that will provide only written feedback to students, usually in the form of comments added to an essay draft. (Remember, it’s important that students write their own essays, so avoid any college essay service that will make edits directly to an essay document .)

Written comments can be an effective component of good essay coaching. However, writing college essays is a deeply personal process , and it’s incredibly difficult to guide a student through the process of self-reflection, brainstorming, and planning purely through written comments.

In addition, a great college essay coach will teach students how to do this entire process of brainstorming, planning, outlining, writing, and revising . It’s difficult to learn why an essay coach is advising certain changes through written comments alone.

For these reasons, look for a college essay service with live, one-on-one services , not just written feedback. These days, it’s easy to work with the best college essay consultants in the country over Zoom!

college essay coaching service online

Students need to reflect on their goals, their passions, and what drives them to be the person they are. This requires a great deal of self-awareness and self-analysis . An experienced college essay coach can help draw these ideas out of students through tested introspection techniques and brainstorming exercises .

On top of all of that, students need to be cognizant of which traits and accomplishments will be most appealing to colleges , and which stories will be cliche and boring. Personal statements and supplementary essays need to fit together to tell a cohesive story, and they need to work together with the rest of the student’s application (extracurriculars, grades, and other accomplishments).

In other words, there’s a great deal of strategy here! An experienced college essay service can help students decide how to present themselves in the best possible light .

Furthermore, most students don’t know how to edit effectively . A really top-notch college essay service will also teach students how to edit their own writing —how to reorder sections for better flow, cut unnecessary words to meet a word count, eliminate passive verbs, and make their writing vivid and exciting. Our students are routinely amazed by how transformative this step can be, and how much they learn by doing it together with the essay coach.

Finally, the best college essay services can also help students to make a writing plan and keep them on track , so that parents don’t have to be involved directly.

Ready to work on your college essays? Schedule a free 15- to 30-minute consultation with Jessica or one of our founders.

Best overall: PrepMaven’s

Best for individual consultants:

Best for unlimited essay assistance:

Best of the big platforms:

Ready to work on college essays with one of our experienced writing coaches? Schedule a free test prep consultation with Jessica (Director of Tutoring) or one of our founders to see what would be the best fit for your family.

It’s always best to start early and not wait until the last minute to write your college essays! Remember that essays can be used to earn scholarships as well as college admission, so a few months of writing now can pay off with up to $300,000 in tuition saved later. 

We work with students at all stages of the writing process, from I-have-no-idea-what-to-write to final edits. To start working with an Ivy-League writing coach today, set up a quick free consultation with our team.

Schedule a free college essay consultation

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Emily graduated  summa cum laude  from Princeton University and holds an MA from the University of Notre Dame. She was a National Merit Scholar and has won numerous academic prizes and fellowships. A veteran of the publishing industry, she has helped professors at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton revise their books and articles. Over the last decade, Emily has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay. 


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Home » College Essay Coaching

College Essay Coaching

Young people need a mentor and guidance to tackle the toughest part of the college application: the essays..

Even great young writers don’t know how to talk about themselves. That’s where I come in. My goal is for students to write essays that college admissions readers won’t forget, and that stay true to the student’s authentic voice. The whole process is fun, effective, and transformational.

I work 1-on-1 with only a handful of students each year, including a few on need-based scholarship. 

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I’ve been an award-winning writer and a teacher of writing for 25+ years. As an English teacher and assistant director of the Mountain School of Milton Academy, I taught High School juniors and seniors the art of the personal essay, and oversaw their college application process. I also worked as the director of Where There Be Dragons, an organization dedicated to meaningful travel programs for teens. I am one of those rare people who LOVES teenagers. As a trained personal coach, I know how to interview them to get their best ideas powerfully told on the page. My system includes multiple tools, honed with experience, that they can use in college and beyond to write clearly and persuasively. The top five schools attended by the students I’ve advised are Brown, Middlebury, Yale, Bowdoin, and Cornell.

College Essay Coach

The Process

Pre-Meeting. Before we meet, I’ll send you a few questions to help me get to know you. This frees us up to dig in immediately when we connect and begin the 3-step process.

Let’s Get Started!

Ready to Get Started?

If you’re curious about college essay coaching, try a session on me book a free 30-minute phone consult to gain instant momentum, and to see if working together is the right fit..

Schedule a Free Consult

College Essay Coach

I offer a few paths forward:

Standard package (for up to 5 colleges).

This is the worry-free package. It’s a flat rate. I work by phone or in-person, beginning to end, for all essays. You don’t have to count how many hours we work together. And you can trust that I have your back to brainstorm, generate uncommon ideas, create a structure, provide unlimited editing and revision feedback of the personal statement essay (for either the Common Application or the Coalition Application), plus all supplemental essays/questions for up to 5 colleges. Get started here .

Personal Statement/Core Essay

This essay is the toughest because colleges are looking for insight into who this applicant really is in 650 words. It requires reflection, perspective, and a unique angle. The open-ended prompts are overwhelming: “share your story” “what makes you unique?” My system breaks the mountain of writing down into small hills and gives support for the three main steps: 1. Brainstorm 2. Structure 3. Fine tune. Get started here .

Supplemental Essays (under 500 words)

For Returning Clients Only

These essays are shorter, but they need to be of the same quality as the core essay. Each school asks for 2-3 of these. Done well, these responses can pull an applicant out of the ‘Maybe’ pile and into the ‘Yes’ pile. Get started here .

Review of Finished Essay

A close look at a polished draft from an outside, experienced perspective. This is to catch grammatical errors, flow, and to help find the best hook and the most powerful ending. Get started here .

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Writing Coach & College Admissions Essay Counselor

Empowering students and professionals to write since 2004.

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Why hire a writing coach?

Craft an unforgettable admission essay to unlock the doors to your top choice colleges, universities, and graduate programs.

Develop the necessary compositional skills to succeed in your dream schools. Build the necessary confidence and organizational techniques to arrive ready to succeed.

Find the right words to do justice to your ideas. Whether building your brand or launching your next project, I bring a wealth of experience in crafting a message for maximum impact.

Whether revamping a resume or pivoting within a career, standing out on paper remains essential. Transform yourself into the ideal candidate and land the job you deserve.


College Admissions Essay Coaching

Available either in NYC or long distance.

Applying for college admission? Want to give yourself a leg up on the competition? Then make sure your application is accompanied by an exceptional personal essay. While grades and test scores are important, the personal essay is a key factor in determining who gets in, and who doesn't. There's no set formula for writing a great essay because the best essays are as unique as the individuals who write them. The essay that will impress the reviewer must be original, focused, and structured. Style counts. Word choice matters. And every comma has to be in the right place.

True Story: Creative Nonfiction for Teens will help you learn much of what you need to write that application essay. But Gotham also offers one-on-one coaching to help you get started and work your way through the process. Our coaches are all professional writers with a wealth of experience in writing college application essays. They'll help you write the essay you want to write—the one that will make the admissions committee sit up and take notice.

Start To Finish: Five-Hour Package

If you aren't sure how to get started on your essay, a Gotham coach can guide you through the entire process, start to finish. The package includes:

Personal Inventory: To help you discover the wealth of possible essay topics, the coach will provide you with a Personal Inventory worksheet. You simply answer the worksheet's interesting questions, which will be used as a spring-board for brainstorming a topic.

Brainstorming: Using your Personal Inventory as a starting point, the coach will help you winnow down the options and figure out the best topic and approach. You'll also learn the basics of good essay writing and techniques for letting your individuality shine. Even if you come in with no idea where to start, you'll walk out with a great topic and an understanding of how to turn it into words.

The Evaluation: Once you have a draft of your essay, your coach spends one hour evaluating it on his or her own, making careful notes and preparing for your consultation.

The Consultation: You bring your laptop, then you and your coach spend two hours improving your essay—content, style, structure, grammar, every aspect—and implementing changes right there. You leave with an essay that's just about ready to put in the mail.

Tuition: $500. (Gotham offers an annual BIPOC scholarship for this service.)

Final Pass: Three-Hour Package

Final Pass is the ideal package for those who have their essay already written but want to fine tune it. Final Pass includes:

The Evaluation: Your instructor spends one hour evaluating your essay and making careful notes.

Tuition: $350.

Important Notes:

Our College Admissions Essay Coaching packages unfold over several weeks at least, and often several months. The service is not available for last-minute feedback.

Gotham essay writing coaches are all professional writers experienced in the field of college application essays. They know how great essays are put together, and they understand the nuanced logic of college admissions boards. However, our coaches do not write essays for anyone, and their instruction is no guarantee of admissions into any college. Gotham coaches teach college-bound students the fundamentals of good essay writing, so that they, in turn, can complete an essay that most accurately reflects their capabilities and uniqueness.

For a free consultation, please complete the form below. If you have questions, call 212-974-8377.

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One-on-one college essay & admissions coaching

We’ll help you dig deep, discover the values, skills and interests you want colleges to hear about, and craft college essays and applications that help you stand out.

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Brainstorm your core topics

What are your deepest stories? What are your core values and how have they manifested in your life?

What will you share with colleges in your main personal statement and supplemental essays?

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structure and outline

How best do you tell your story? Is it a single narrative, or a montage of a series of moments in your life tied by a common theme?

Or something else entirely?

We’ll help you figure it out.

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Refine and revise

You’ll work with us until your personal statement, supplemental essays, activities list, and additional information section communicate all of the unique values, skills and qualities you’ll bring to your future college campus.

You’ll have your work reviewed by multiple experienced essay specialists throughout the process, too.

“ “Please go with CEG. The experience with this company is far more authentic, more reliable, and simply better than with anyone else. (Trust me, I tried other places.) Nothing even comes close to the attention and vast support that your child will receive with CEG. I was terrified of college apps before. Working with CEG didn’t just help me get them done— it taught me that I can tackle even the things I’m scared of, and that’s a valuable lesson that you won’t get from another company.” ”


I work with some of the most gifted essay specialists and college counselors around

You’ll get the support and the expertise you need to discover your values and express those in your college applications to your future college.

You’ll become a better writer and storyteller. Because this isn’t just about writing the perfect essay, it’s about unraveling your authentic story in a way that helps you stand out from other applicants.

You’ll work with an experienced essay specialist to craft outstanding applications

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find your story

We firmly believe every student has unique stories to tell.

We’ll help you find and tell them.

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stay organized and accountable

We’ll help you stay organized and on task to finish your essays well before deadlines.

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feel confident in your writing

You’ll meet with your coach and revise your writing until you have essays that you’re proud of.

  Need help navigating the entire college admissions process? We can help there, too.

We work with college counselors with decades of experience in college admissions who can help you develop a list of colleges that meet your needs. Our counselors can advise on everything from “What colleges are great for Engineering for a 3.8 GPA student interested in a rural campus” to other elements of the application including extracurricular activities, demonstrated interest, and interview preparation.

hear what A few students had to say:

“ “The CEG team has been phenomenal in this whole process. When I approached College Essay Guy in late November, I was really distressed as the application deadlines were around the corner. Despite the late timing, the CEG team welcomed me with open arms and trudged along with me every step of the way to complete the process. It’s rare to find strangers who truly care about you and want to help you in every way possible, and I think the CEG team really challenges those stereotypes with finesse.” ”
“ Working with College Essay Guy, specifically Nicole was truly fantastic. As someone who considers myself an average writer at best, I had a lot of fear when faced with the 25+ essays I had to write. CEG broke it down into manageable pieces with clear examples to inspire me and, after many rounds of feedback and revisions, I was able to write deeply personal and finely-crafted essays that showcase all the parts of myself that make me who I am. ”

College essay guy is proud to be one-for-one.

For every student that works with our team, you're sponsoring 10 hours of free college application and essay coaching for a high-achieving student from a low-income household. Learn more about our Matchlighters Scholars program, and see if you qualify here.

Come from a low-income home with limited resources for college admissions support?

Learn more about our Matchlighters Scholars program, and see if you qualify here.

 GET THE GUIDANCE AND SUPPORT YOU NEED TO write outstanding college essays and tackle the college admissions process with purpose.

 need help on the entire college admissions process we can help there, too..

best essay writing coaching


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Jonathan K. New York, NY, available for online & in-person tutoring

New York, NY

Writing Mentor specializing in College Application Essays

A professional writing mentor, I have worked chiefly with university applicants since 2013; full time the last 5 years. Essay Mentor for Fulbright Commission, 2015-2020, working with extremely promising applicants to help them in applying to... See Jonathan's full profile

Nathan A. Los Angeles, CA, available for online tutoring

Los Angeles, CA

English tutor and PhD w/ 3+ years experience in college essay coaching

Since 2017, I've helped students write the essays that have gained them admission to the colleges and graduate schools of their dreams. I can help at any stage in the process, from brainstorming ideas to revising early drafts to proofreading the... See Nathan's full profile

Jesse S. San Diego, CA, available for online tutoring

San Diego, CA

Experienced and Engaging Educator--SAT, ACT, AP English, College Essay

I have worked as an English and GED Instructor with the SDUHSD, as a Self-Employed Private Tutor (Test Preparation, English, and College Application Essay Creation), as a Director of a Tutoring Club in Encinitas, CA, and as an... See Jesse's full profile

Teagan L. Austin, TX, available for online & in-person tutoring

Award-winning Harvard Grad / College Essay and Application Consultant

Throughout my tutoring career, I have helped numerous clients refine and polish academic papers, college essays , and applications. Whether you need assistance with your writing style, grammar, vocabulary, or paper structure, I can use my... See Teagan's full profile

Barbara L. New Preston Marble Dale, CT, available for online tutoring

New Preston Marble Dale, CT

College Essay Consultant

I am an Ivy League alumna and veteran high school teacher. Prior to becoming a college essay consultant three years ago, I volunteered as an Alumni Admissions Ambassador for my alma mater. In that role, I conducted applicant interviews... See Barbara's full profile

Ben U. Beverly Hills, CA, available for online & in-person tutoring

Beverly Hills, CA

Berkeley PhD, Harvard Author - Writing Coach for College Essays

-Breaking down the writing process into achievable tasks. My students find that after just a few sessions, they have already made significant progress on their college essays . MY BACKGROUND After teaching history at UC Berkeley for ten... See Ben's full profile

Gabriel M. Los Angeles, CA, available for online & in-person tutoring

Experienced College Essay Coach with UCLA PhD in English

As a PhD in English who spent nearly a decade teaching at UCLA, I have developed deep professional skills in helping students excel at college essay writing. My background as a writer and professor also gives me insights into what... See Gabriel's full profile

Eitan G. New York, NY, available for online & in-person tutoring

Published Author, NYU MFA in Writing, Personal Statement Specialist

I have assisted students through their college journeys since 2016. Since then, I have run large college essay workshops and have worked privately with individuals applying to top schools such as Stanford University, The University of... See Eitan's full profile

Karen K. West Bloomfield, MI, available for online & in-person tutoring

West Bloomfield, MI

Writing/Editing/Proofreading/Public Speaking, Doctorate/ College Essays

I have a BA in Communication from Michigan State University. As an industry professional with 30+ years in public relations/marketing/business communications, I wrote articles, literature, proposals, presentations, press releases, and advertising... See Karen's full profile

Helene F. Nyack, NY, available for online & in-person tutoring

Effective Writing/Editing Tutor; College Essay Tutor & Counselor

My role is to guide students and support them through the writing process, and to help them craft strong, compelling narratives that hew closely to their own voice. For college applications, essays usually include the personal... See Helene's full profile

Julie S. Downingtown, PA, available for online & in-person tutoring

Downingtown, PA

Ivy League Tutor in Writing and Editing High School and College Essays

I have helped countless students and companies hone their essays, project proposals, and content creation for every purpose conceivable, from college essays to product catalogs. I am attuned to teaching and working outside the box. I work... See Julie's full profile

Razi H. Bala Cynwyd, PA, available for online & in-person tutoring

Bala Cynwyd, PA

Harvard Grad and College Essay Expert

Ever since giving my first chess lesson when I was 11 years old (certainly the most exciting $2 I have ever made in my life) I have continued tutoring in almost every imaginable capacity, from ACT, to college essays , from middle school... See Razi's full profile

Michaela D. Pflugerville, TX, available for online tutoring

Pflugerville, TX

Tutor Helping Students With All Aspects of Applying to College

I’ve assisted over a dozen students in every part of the college application process from drafting and editing college essays to helping students find colleges that align with their goals. To assisting them to get recommendations to... See Michaela's full profile

Henrik H. Lakewood, CA, available for online & in-person tutoring

Lakewood, CA

3 yrs experience helping students find/get into their dream schools

I've worked with over 100 students in all areas of the college application process, whether it be standardized testing, the college search itself, or writing a successful college application essay . Over the past 5 years most of... See Henrik's full profile

Madeline G. Seattle, WA, available for online & in-person tutoring

Seattle, WA

Experienced Grad-School, Fellowship, and College Essay Tutor

I'm happy to work with you on any stage of the writing process, whether it be last-minute final edits, brainstorming content and outlining, or anything in between! College and graduate school essay coaching has been a focus of mine for the past... See Madeline's full profile

Benjamin P. Nashville, TN, available for online & in-person tutoring

Nashville, TN

Patient Writing Tutor Specializing in High School and College Essays

I've been a writing tutor for the last 3 years. I work mostly with high school students, often on their college application essays . Additionally, I'm a Master's student at Vanderbilt with a lot of experience writing... See Benjamin's full profile

Tara S. Sherborn, MA, available for online & in-person tutoring

Sherborn, MA

Fulbright Scholar, Northwestern Grad: College Essays & More

My Unique Approach I've learned to decode and analyze what institutions and organizations seek in applicants. When it comes to college essays , my approach is guided by information that comes directly from the source: the admissions... See Tara's full profile

Jonathan R. Lancaster, PA, available for online & in-person tutoring

Lancaster, PA

Math, Test Prep (SAT, ACT, GED, GRE, ASVAB), and Writing Tutor

.... In addition, I have also worked with students on their college essays . I'm familiar with all the prompts and have read up on what college admission officers want to see in a college essay . I can provide guidance on selection of a prompt, construction... See Jonathan's full profile

Filza V. Los Angeles, CA, available for online & in-person tutoring

College Essay and Admissions Specialist (emphasis on UC application)

I have done extensive research and work in the college admissions process to see firsthand what top universities look for in their applicants. I have also read over 100 successful college essays and helped students get into colleges of... See Filza's full profile

Amy A. Silver Spring, MD, available for online & in-person tutoring

Silver Spring, MD

Conquer the College Essay with Author, Journalist and Writing Teacher

I am an award-winning author and journalist with bylines in The Wall Street Journal, NPR's magazine, and Village Voice Media (200+ articles published). As a communications consultant, my clients include the World Bank, World Vision International... See Amy's full profile

Donald L. Haddonfield, NJ, available for online & in-person tutoring

Haddonfield, NJ

Don L-- English, Literature, SAT prep, Grammar, and Writing Teacher

I have worked with hundreds of students and their college essays . Most of this work was done in my high school Honors and College Prep English classes. I have also worked with many students on highlighting skills for their applications.... See Donald's full profile

Marianne B. Corvallis, OR, available for online & in-person tutoring

Corvallis, OR

College Application Essay Coach

My extensive college admission background at two selective institutions means I know what admissions committees are looking for in the admission essay. It has given me special insight to guide prospective students throughout the entire application... See Marianne's full profile

Andrea C. Huntington, NY, available for online & in-person tutoring

Huntington, NY

Cambridge Editor / Georgetown & Columbia Grad / Teacher Tutor 2009 on

Need help ensuring that you have a balanced list of college applications, so you thrive both academically and socially? Want guidance in drafting your college application essays : personal statement / UC personal insight... See Andrea's full profile

Nick S. Santa Monica, CA, available for online & in-person tutoring

Santa Monica, CA

The College Lad - Leading SoCal Writing Coach & Test Expert

My own writing has been published in over a dozen publications and my years of experience writing web copy have taught me how to apply that punchy style to college essays in order to grab a reader's attention. I don't just write... See Nick's full profile

Susan B. Edgewater, FL, available for online & in-person tutoring

Edgewater, FL

Certified Educator for SAT/ACT Prep, College Essays , Social Science

.... In addition to teaching course curricula, I work with students on writing skills, standardized test preparation, college essays , and graduate literature reviews and research papers, because all of these skills will help them reach their academic... See Susan's full profile

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best essay writing coaching

"...the one book every parent embarking on the college journey with their child should read.”

best essay writing coaching

College Essay & Application Coaching

best essay writing coaching

For more information about process and FAQs see my consulting page, here: .

Or, if you want to discuss your specific needs and how I can help:

Contact Jill


“Jill has the uncanny ability to help students distill the many experiences, unique perspectives, and ideas that are swirling around in their heads into a highly personal and cohesive essay. We really feel that the time spent with Jill was a master class in writing which went far beyond anything our daughter ever learned at school. Not only was our daughter accepted into her first choice college, she’ll be taking her new and improved writing skills with her!”

Pam , daughter at Duke University

“Jill, you are a total magician. I read my son’s essay and I think it’s great — and I also think it’s true! I’m so impressed with your process. I knew you were a great writer and I knew you’d be a terrific and compassionate coach in this process. But you do much more than that. My son was trying to say what he thought “they” wanted to hear in this whole application marathon, and I’ve been complicit in treating the process as a game. You turned it around by asking him to think about what’s actually true, what matters to him and moves him — and it is a much, much better essay as a result. He’s happy with it too, which is even more remarkable. So THANK YOU! You’re amazing at what you do.”

Eve , son at University of Pennsylvania

“Your help and assistance completely transformed my essays. Before speaking with you, I had many ideas of what my college essay might look like; however, with your insight into the college admissions process and great writing skills, you bring out the most unique and standout qualities of someone in an essay. I am extremely happy with my final essays, and I would have never imagined that my essays could represent me that well! I even had college admissions personnel call me and specifically comment on how great the essay was! Thank you!”

Asher , George Washington University

“Your guidance, counseling, and coaching have been invaluable. While he is not overly expressive with his parents, my son greatly appreciates all your wisdom and encouragement. I greatly appreciate the confidence he has in this process, mainly due to you.”

Theresa , Asher’s Mom

“Jill was amazing to work with. Her process of helping my son write his college essay was so impressive. He really enjoyed all parts of it, from the brainstorming to the editing. Working with Jill was a pleasure, and he ended up with an essay that was truly from his heart. Many schools actually commented on how touched they were by the story he told, and how they related to it themselves. We could not be happier with the outcome. Jill was also extremely knowledgeable about the college process and the colleges themselves. My son got into 16 of the 18 schools he applied to, and is attending his first choice, Bowdoin College, in the Fall. Thank you Jill!”

Christine , son at Bowdoin College

“Having our son work with Jill on not only his college essays but also how he presented his extra-curricular activities and his application in general eliminated a major point of stress in the process. She kept him on task with reasonable, but enforceable deadlines. He felt very supported, and as parents, we didn’t have to badger our son to get things done. He worked with Jill over the summer and went back to school in September with his essays and applications pretty much ready to go. Jill was a dream for our son to work with. She will be the first person we contact when our younger son is ready to apply to colleges!”

Kathy , son at Bates College

“We came to you after our son was deferred from an Ivy League school in the Early Action process. You showed us what was lacking in his application and what he should change to be more competitive. It worked! Our son was accepted to Dartmouth College, and we know it was because of his revised application. You were a true professional who could read a student’s Common App and instantly know what needs to be improved. Thank you!

Kristine , son at Dartmouth College

“Jill’s coaching work with both of our high school juniors was extremely helpful. Jill brings the relevant expertise to the table and has a useful and friendly, but structured approach to keep students working towards their vision and meeting the tight timelines. I particularly appreciated the way she encourages the student’s unique voice and compelling narration to shine through. As a family living overseas and somewhat removed from the intimidating US college application process, it was comforting to have guidance from someone so keyed in to what works. We can highly recommend Jill!”

Sarah , son at Williams College, daughter at Swarthmore College

“Everything you did to help me through this process is the reason why I am going where I am this fall. Had it not been for your feedback, or your boost of morale, I don’t know what I’d be doing or where I’d be going after graduation. Thank you for everything you did, and I hope that future college applicants choose to work with you, because they won’t regret it one bit.”

Luke , University of Maryland

“I was very nervous about applying for college and you helped me with my whole application, making the process so much easier and less stressful. In the end I was accepted to my first choice college and I can’t thank you enough for helping me get to that point! Thanks again for all your help!”

Claire , Wellesley College

“I think your suggestions are spot on. I’m amazed that you were able to give such thorough revision ideas so quickly! (I knew you were a pro, but this was rather dazzling.). Most of all, thanks for the encouraging words. This process can undermine the confidence of even the most well- adjusted kid these days.”

Tracey , daughter at Bowdoin College

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best essay writing coaching

Everyone has a story ...

… yet figuring out how to tell your unique, personal story can be daunting. As writing coaches who work with clients across the country and around the world, we help students write about themselves.

Many of our clients are students applying to college, whether they are high school seniors or current college students looking to transfer. We also work with high school underclassmen as well as graduate school candidates, applicants for fellowships and scholarships, and counselor colleagues looking to sharpen their own essay coaching skills.

It's great to see our clients receive the acceptances they desire, but it's even more rewarding to watch them evolve through our work together.

We work closely with a limited number of students each year so that we can truly get to know each student. We are coaches (rather than editors) who facilitate one-on-one, inquiry-based conversations that enable our students to better understand and articulate their experiences and goals.  While our practice specializes in the writing portion of the application process, we maintain partnerships with several trusted colleagues who provide guidance on all other aspects of college applications. We are happy to connect interested families with our colleagues. 

College Essay Coaching

College essays require reflective thinking and a direct, declarative writing style. In addition to providing general advice about how to approach these essays, a lot of our work lies in starting conversations that guide the student toward greater self-awareness and thus, deeper and more meaningful essays.

We offer students a structured process and constructive feedback, so they are able to craft strong personal statements and supplemental essays as well as honors program and scholarship applications. We work with high school and transfer students so they can:

*develop a realistic timeline for completing work & minimizing stress

*brainstorm effective topics

*identify specific,  meaningful  experiences while avoiding college essay clichés

*organize ideas for the strongest structure

*sharpen wording and grammar

*edit with a critical eye

*proofread final work before submission

Even the most diligent students tell us how much they value a bit of external structure and accountability. And even the strongest writers appreciate a fresh, objective perspective. In fact, regardless of their skill level, clients often find that the coaching they receive on their application essays also strengthens their other writing.

Although applying to college can be stressful, our goal is to make it an empowering experience as students gain self-awareness and find their narrative voice. It is thrilling for us to watch our clients grow through this process.


We also work with high school underclassmen who are  applying to summer programs   and/or  looking to practice their narrative writing skills.

Click for more underclassmen information and inspiration.

Graduate School and Fellowship/Scholarship Applicants

The graduate school personal statement synthesizes the different types of essays students write for their undergraduate applications. Graduate school essays should demonstrate a refined focus in one’s area of study. We help grad school candidates tap into the skills they honed in their undergraduate applications to reflect a more advanced level of engagement with their studies and the greater world.

Counselor Coaching

In addition to working with students, Tina provides one-on-one customized coaching for counselors who want to improve their essay coaching skills. Just like she does with students, her colleague coaching is a combination of conversations and written notes. Her one-on-one coaching helps counselors help their students by responding to each individual’s unique questions and needs. Some examples of what this looks like include:

Discussing a specific prompt and how to help a student approach it. 

Talking through a student’s working draft and determining the most effective way to guide them to a stronger version. 

“Diagnosing” essays from previous seasons and discussing how certain challenges could have been addressed. 

Strategizing productive time management -- for students and their counselor. 

Determining roles, boundaries and how to keep everyone happy during the process. 

She also conducts group trainings and in 2019, Tina designed some resources and led trainings for a large college counseling firm in Chicago. 

We start with putting some structure around the process. By providing a suggested timeline at the beginning of our work together, we show clients how they can break down the bigger project into smaller, more manageable pieces. We emphasize working well ahead of application deadlines so there's plenty of time for careful reflection, thorough work and a significant time cushion for any unexpected events that might arise. The idea is to lower the intensity of the experience. This leads to stronger, polished essays and calm families. Believe it or not, clients even tell us they had fun!

This good rapport comes from the fact that we really get to know our clients by meeting with them on a regular basis. Before each meeting they complete homework (brainstorming exercises &/or essay drafts), which we discuss when we meet. During our meetings, the student and coach hash out ideas and discuss content. We offer direct suggestions, but we also ask the student a lot of questions in order to guide them to deeper and more insightful writing. Our written feedback includes both substantive notes and line edits on grammar, flow, etc., but we don’t do a “heavy edit” of their work (nor should anyone else). A client's work should be a genuine demonstration of their abilities and unique narrative voice.

Our underlying philosophy rests in guiding the student toward greater self-awareness through the essay process. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to reflect on their lives in ways they usually haven’t before. At the end of each meeting, we agree on a set of realistic next steps. 

best essay writing coaching

Since 2013, I’ve worked with hundreds of students, guiding them through thousands of application essays. My clients have received acceptances and generous scholarship offers at a wide range of colleges and universities. My introduction to the college admissions world began by partnering with several established independent counselors and I was fortunate enough to be mentored by two experienced UC Berkeley admissions readers. Prior to my time as a writing coach, I worked in the non-profit sector for 15 years, primarily in a communications capacity.

My own writing experience includes business writing, personal essays and I'm the author of a novel. In addition to my degree in English from Kenyon College, I’ve completed coursework in copyediting at the University of Chicago and taken classes in UC Berkeley's College Admissions & Career Planning Program.

I am a member of the Higher Education Consultants Association , the standard-bearing professional organization for college counselors. In addition to its endless professional development opportunities, HECA enables me to hear directly from admissions officers on a regular basis. I also serve as an application reader for the Maisin Scholar Award and I lead workshops and trainings for students, counselors and aspiring essay coaches.

I love getting to know my clients and having a chance to share in what are often major life passages. It's an honor to immerse myself in their words, unravel their stories, find meaning, learn new things and cheer enthusiastically from the sidelines. When I’m not cheering enthusiastically, I like to consume a large quantity of books and delicious Bay Area food. Sometimes I take hikes with my husband and dog or go to a barre class. Despite my appreciation for the wonders of California, I'm a Midwesterner at heart, having grown up in the Chicago area.

Tori Kramer

As a former middle and high school English teacher, I have worked with hundreds of students on developing and strengthening their writing skills. In the classroom, I thrived on sharing my love of literature and the writing process while discovering inventive ways to engage my students.

Following my graduation from Lehigh University, with a dual major in English and Political Science, I worked in Sales before transitioning to teaching high school English. After several years of classroom teaching, I earned a Masters in the Teaching of English from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Since 2009, my family has been on the move from London to New York to Connecticut and most recently relocating to Chicago. In spite of all my family’s travel, I kept returning to the field of education, which has provided a home for me wherever I go. 

In 2020, I began working with Tina at Boyer Coaching, where I’ve had the opportunity to experience the best of both worlds: facilitating learning and growth in a one-on-one setting. As a writing coach, I can apply my skills as an educator while truly getting to know each of my students. No two clients are the same and it’s been my pleasure to support a wide range of students. I’ve been delighted by my clients’ outcomes and even more excited to observe their personal growth during our time together.

I have my Certificate in College Counseling from the University of California San Diego and am a member of the Higher Education Consultants Association . In my downtime I can be found binge watching TV, dreaming of vacations in the mountains or on the beach, curled up on the couch with a good book and my dog on my lap, cycling on my Peloton or being Chauffeur Extraordinaire for my 8- and 12-year-old. 

Kevin Richardson

I have been working with clients to realize their higher education dreams since 2003. My clients have received offers to some of the top schools in the United States and Europe, with many receiving scholarship and fellowship assistance. I first began my admissions career helping candidates gain admission to the highest ranked post-graduate programs. Recently, I began working with college admissions, helping candidates with applications - and offers - from schools as diverse as state school to Ivy League. 

I have always had a love for writing, however, that love blossomed when I became a ghostwriter for the Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford. Talk about pressure! After business school, I used my writing in the business world, for everything from marketing to creating business pitches. Perhaps my most enjoyable writing experience was crafting the monthly newsletter for Soggy Paws, a Midwestern chain of dog grooming and pet supply stores that I co-founded. 

While I love enabling students to tell their stories, perhaps a bigger passion lies in helping them first find their own unique story to tell, to be willing to say out loud that dream, that hope, that passion that they are afraid to share with anyone - sometimes even themselves. My goal is to help my clients discover their individual truths and then to let that truth shine on the page. 

When I'm not working with clients, I can be found playing cards, volunteering for Stanford University, my alma mater, or in the kitchen, where I love recreating complicated restaurant dishes with simple at-home tools. 

"Letters of Recommendation"

"Tina Boyer not only helped me get into the school of my dreams - The Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley- but she also helped me develop as a person throughout the process. With her, it's not just about editing, it's about telling a greater story about yourself. Through that process, I learned what I want to emulate in my life, as well as how my story comes across to others. Thanks to Tina, I not only got into the program of my dreams, but got to start developing into the person of my dreams."

B.D., UC Berkeley Haas School of Business

[My daughter] always looks forward to her meetings with Tori Kramer and shared with us recently that she feels more confident in her English class as a result of working with Tori! We’ve noticed a significant shift in her the last couple months, so much confidence and personal awareness, her time with Tori has been so valuable.

S.P., parent of San Francisco State student

“Tina was extremely professional and easy to work with. I would like to highly recommend her.

The entire college process was overwhelming to my husband and me especially with two boys applying to multiple schools. Tina worked with the boys individually over Skype. She kept them on track and moved them along efficiently. They finished their essays in a timely manner and applied to all of their schools well before the Early Action deadline. This was a big task. 

The boys applied to multiple schools that had many different requirements. She also kept in touch with our educational consultant on their progress. I have to say that the boys have been accepted to many of the schools they applied to so far. We are waiting for a few more to come in. Some of the schools commented on how interesting their essays were as well.

The entire experience was easy and impressive as Tina had the boys working on their essays, on their own, over the summer/fall (without parental involvement). She motivated them to take ownership and complete their high quality essays in a timely manner.”

B.K., parent of Case Western and Miami of Ohio students

“I have read his personal statement and was amazed … and not just because he is my son. The writing was some of the best he has done.”

L.B., parent of Stanford student

"Thank you so much for all your help and support. A lot of my friends with similar stats as me didn't make it to some of the same schools, which I believe goes to show the significance of essays. If it weren't for you, my essays wouldn't have been as developed and refined as they were.”

“Thank you so much for everything you did for me this year. Without you I wouldn’t have gotten into my dream school … I don’t know how I can thank you enough for keeping me on track, motivated, and not too stressed at the same time.”

E.D., Washington University in St. Louis

“I worked with Tina as a high school senior and knew from our first meeting that she was not only extraordinary within her field of creative writing but she was also a wonderful person to depend on throughout the college application process, which can be very stressful at times. I enjoyed working with her so much that I returned to work with her again on my transfer apps, after I had outgrown the resources available at my small liberal arts college. Tina helped me convey my needs, my talents and my experience in an effortless and organized manner. I couldn’t be more proud of the work I accomplished with Tina, and it’s all because she continuously pushed me to write better and to consider different ways of communicating the same message.

I’m even more proud of what I got out of it: the opportunity to self-reflect on my interests and aspirations. As a Finance major with my own startup that helps women in Turkey who have lost their jobs due to political conflict, this process with Tina made me realize that I’m also passionate about behavioral economics - I now have plans to pursue undergraduate research within that very field. Thanks to Tina I was able to put my best foot forward and will continue to do so, knowing that I have had a mentor like her along the way.”

E.O., American University

Additional parent testimonies are available on Berkeley Parents Network

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Writing Coach for College Applications

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

Need help with college apps, especially essay!!!

So many things have ground to a stop right now with all the school closures. One of those things is my daughter working with her college counselors to prep for college essays and apps. While schools are closed, I'd like to get her a private coach or specialist, but our shelter in place status rules THAT out. My question is does anyone know a coach or specialist doing this work online? Might be wishful thinking, but I thought I'd throw it out there, Thanks.   

Alpha college prep is doing consulting on Skype. My daughter just had a session with Jennifer.

Most private college coaches are offering online sessions. Just ask anyone that you come across via Yelp, BPN or other resources

I have used Terry McClure sucessfully online: 510.384-7383. Good luck!

Writing coach Carla Castillo, based in Berkeley, is amazing and works via Skype or FaceTime.  She is immensely skilled and can help with anything from writing basics to dissertations. or simplycarla [at]

I recently posted this review for her on BPN - you can search her name for more reviews.

My teenage daughter (now a high school freshman) lacked confidence in her writing and had difficulty putting ideas to paper.  After working with Carla for a few weeks, she was transformed.  Now, more than a year later, she is thriving.  

Carla is not a tutor, but a coach who is deeply invested in the success of her team.  With warm guidance, she started by working with my daughter on the basics – vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar, punctuation.  They’ve now advanced to drafts of the UC application essay prompts and detailed character analysis.  Carla never steps in to rewrite a project; instead, she nudges my daughter with constructive questions that teach her to review and edit her own work product with a careful eye.  Every finished project is written entirely by my daughter in her own voice.  Where I used to hear “I can’t think of what to write!” or “I hate this!”, I now hear muttered phrases like “compound or complex?” and “that’s not parallel sentence structure.”  My daughter’s work with Carla has been challenging and immensely rewarding.   

Which brings me to Carla’s true gift: her ability to connect with people.  Carla has established a personal, meaningful relationship with my daughter that has inspired her to pull the best from herself.  She looks forward to her weekly sessions and considers Carla a mentor.  Both of us enjoy Carla as a person and find her easy and flexible to work with.  Without hesitation, we highly recommend Carla as a writing coach. 

Sarah Shankman has worked with my son for his college application essays. She communicated with my son via emails and phone calls, and also with us. She does not cover the college application part, but she's phenomenal guiding your student to put himself/herself in the best light for college applications through their essays. Sarah's phone number is 510.484.7112 and her email is srshankman [at]   Check her website  If you want more information, please ask the moderators for my contact info, I will be happy to answer your questions.

Angela Sun does online college consulting. We have met her in person in the past, but will go forward with the on-line appts.

Jamie Keller is an excellent writing coach who works via Skype and Zoom. I highly recommend her, especially for college essays.  My son worked with her with great success when he was applying for college.You can reach her at:  jamiekeller1 [at]

Tutor for kid writing essay

Is there any good tutor you know for kid writing essay? Thanks.

[Moderator Note] See  College Admissions Advisors for past reviews of essay coaches as well as announcements from tutors who currently offer this.

Hi - I highly recommend Jamie Keller as a child writing coach. She has worked with my son for several years and is fantastic -- kind, fun, and great at building skills and helping kids find their voice. She also specializes in working with kids as they write their college essays.

I'm not sure what age your child is.  My son has been tutoring with Peggy  for a few years.  She specializing in writing and reading.  She's very good  at  helping kids write essays.  She can work with kids of all ages.  My son is 15.  He really enjoys working with her.

Her Number is 415-786-3879

Great College Admission Advisor and Essay Tutur in North Berkeley--Debra Davis did a great job helping our daughter as a BHS junior and senior navigate the college selection process and also writing her essays.  Debra has a great rapport with teenagers and has a great sense of how to support and guide high school students through all the ins and outs of college essay writing.  We can't say enough great things about Debra's expert support and guidance, and we highly recommend her.

Both of my kids have worked with Jamie Keller of Berkeley on their college entance essays.

Jamie has a gentle way of guiding kids through the thought process of finding a compelling topic, intro psragraph and multiple drafts if necessary. 

I found her coaching took me off the hook for critiquing and nagging on a very sensitive process. My daughter’s college applications succeeded at all but one of 13 colleges. My son is a high school senior now and writing drafts with her now.

College-essay workshops, 1-1 coaching, or read a book?

My high-school junior would like to get started on college application essays this summer and we're wondering whether it's worthwhile to enroll in one of the essay-writing workshops that various coaches seem to offer for brainstorming and writing sessions, whether the money is better spent hiring a coach to work with the student one-on-one, or whether anyone in this area still goes it alone (perhaps with the help of a good guidebook or website).  There seem to be a lot of writing tutor recommendations on the site but I haven't seen recommendations for small-group workshops, which are appealing to my student.  If your student has gone through a summer essay-writing workshop or class do you have any feedback/recommendations for one?  And if your student hasn't worked with anyone but found a book or website to be particularly helpful in the process of writing, I'd love those recommendations too.

It is a good idea to start working on it over the summer to reduce senior year stress. Autumn Stephens helped my daughter. In some ways it seemed liked counseling as much as writing help -- talking through what was important. My daughter also did a fair amount of work on her own. One thing I noticed was that the college she ended up going to was the one that had the prompt that was closest to her interests. Here's Autumn Stephen's email: autumnalstephens [at]

Your question is very timely.

Berkeley High will be hosting a college essay workshop on the evening of May 30, so if your student is a BHS student, he/she can attend that workshop. A BHS college counselor and folks, including myself, who comprise the Berkeley High college app essay reading team will be leading that workshop.

Personally, I think 1:1 advising works best to help students choose topics that can add the most value to one's application, as well as to bring out each student's authentic voice. Independent writing coaches can help with that. In working with students individually, I find it helpful for the essay coach to also have a holistic view of the student so that the application "hangs together" and is cohesive.

Of course, there are plenty of printed resources that many students find helpful. One that was widely recommended by instructors of a college admissions certification program that I recently completed is

Elaine Chan

My son worked with Heather MacLeod for his college essays.  He is accepted to many UCs and one UC with an Honors program.  Heather is very kind and sweet and that made his whole college application a wonderful experience!  Her email is  hmactutor [at]

I'd go for the 1-1 if you can afford it. This is such a turning point in your child's life. We found Lesley Quinn  to be kind of astonishing. Each essay from our son - who was not a writer, more science-y, was like a polished piece of memoir, and it was moving for both of us to read HIM writing so insightfully about these moments in his life. (She coached in great detail, but he wrote every word.) She's also highly organized, which he very much needed. The essays were a level far above what he would have done without her help, and he ended up proud and surprised - and he got into the places he was hoping for. 

High school essay writing

Do people us tutors for private high school entrance essays? My son is a good creative writer but doesn't have much practice writing standard essays. 

My daughter, and a ton of other families, worked with Nina and Kate at Essays Composed. Nina was a beloved English teacher at a local private school and is talented. They really work with their students to help them find their own voice and teach good writing as well. The program is well structured with a nice time management component as well. Best wishes for a good college process. It worked well for my daughter and now starting with my son. 

Lesley Quinn was exceptional. She is highly organized but what has really kept her in our minds is the way that she inspired our son and got writing out of him that surprised all of us, him included. The essays were a level far above what he would have done without her help, and he ended up proud - and got into the places he was hoping. 

College Essay Writing Tutor

Does anyone have any recommendations  for a college essay writing tutor?

Becky Gross is an experienced English teacher who tutors writing on the side and has been working with our son on his college essays.  Our son has trouble getting his words down on paper. Becky is warm, creative and has helped him figure out how to tell his story.  Some of the big names are quite expensive and she is more reasonsably priced.  Her number is 510-849-4877.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

College admissions essays help.

We are looking for someone who can help our son with his college essays. He's a very strong student but is a little shy and has anxiety about the college process. We think he will be applying to top-and middle-tier schools. We hope to get a head start this summer and would appreciate advice. APerez

I've worked with Tina Boyer to prepare essay-writing workshops. She is a Berkeley-based college essay coach with several years experience (and a successful track record) helping students improve their personal statements and supplemental essays. She can assist students at any stage of the essay process, be it developing a timeline for completing their work to brainstorming topics to drafting and ultimately polishing their writing. She has worked with several respected independent counselors and was mentored by a long-time UC admissions reader. Here’s her LinkedIn profile: Tina can be reached at: tinaboyer [at] . Karen G

Our family has benefited from working with Kevin Arnold over the past couple of years as an academic coach, for test prep and with essay and application help. He is the right mix of knowledgeable, calm and supportive/directive. Best of all he helped both our kids feel confident and in-charge of their process. We highly recommend him! We found him through the BPN. Kevin Arnold 510-495-7923 Kevinarnold333 [at] a BHS Mom

I highly recommend our tutor Carla Castillo. She worked for 25 years as a lawyer and now specializes in college essay writing and tutoring english. She has worked with my middle schooler for the last year and I can only say the best things about her. She also worked with my daughter for her high school application essay. Carla is very down to earth and has a great way to connect to middle and high school students. Carla Castillo (510) 847-3789 Steffie S

You can contact Carla Castillo, 510-847-3789 She is really good at helping kids to better express thoughts in a concise way. Mengzhi

I highly recommend Carla Castillo's writing tutoring services. She loves working with kids of all ages and is a fantastic writing tutor. We used her to help our son write his college essays and I can't say enough good things about her! She made it a painless process for our son and the final product was far superior as a result of their work together. The turnaround time was really fast which was an added bonus when up against deadlines. Because of her stellar work, I had her review my nephew's essays for his UC applications, and was amazed to see how she could craft his words into a much improved essay. Both kids got into their first choice schools. I don't really like ''playing the game'' of college admissions, but in this day and age, I CLEARLY see the advantages of helping kids put their best foot forward with a well-written essay. Carla can definitely help with that! She can be reached at 510 847-3789 and her webpage is Sharon  

I have to sing the praises of Jamie Keller who coached my daughter on her college essays. Jamie had a gentle way of coaxing my daughter to think about a unique way to tell her story. I think they met three times, for a reasonable hourly rate and my daughter was accepted to 12 out of 13 schools she applied to. grace

Hi; My son worked with Sonia Spindt. She was SOOOOOO GREAT! My son is a good writer with great grades, but he found the process of having to write an essay about himself very painful. Sonia was very helpful and patient with him as he wrote, rewrote, & changed topics until he finally arrived at what he felt was a solid essay in his voice. She also helped with editing and proofing his mini essays and entire Common App and UC applications. He got into great schools: Columbia, Northwestern, NYU, Cal and other UCs. I don't think he would have been able to distinguish himself among all the other super star applicants had he not had Sonia's kind and knowledgeable guidance. Also, her being there took the pressure off my relationship with my son. It was still very stressful, but my son and I didn't end up hating each other by the end of it. Sonia's rates are VERY reasonable. Her contact info is: sspindt [at] 510-654-0377 (h) and 510-290-4271 (c) Good Luck with the college application journey! Its rough, but it doesn't last forever. Thank Goodness! Nicole A

I gifted my niece the essay-writing assistance of Carla Castillo. I emailed my sister to get her view on Carla's help, and this is how she replied: ''Having Carla in the picture helped me do what was most important in this whole college application process, at least as far as the writing anyway, and that was to stay out of it unless asked for input. Carla was very helpful in keeping my daughter, a notorious procrastinator, on track by simply asking, 'when might you have a draft ready to discuss with me?' My daughter, who I think is a good writer to begin with, says, 'My final essay in its post-Carla form was about a gazillion times better than my first draft. Her suggestions were really useful, as she had a much better idea than I did of what colleges were looking for, but she always made sure to let me know that I had the final say. She was very easy to work with.' '' End of story: my niece, a small-town girl, was accepted to Harvard, much to our surprise and delight. Here's Carla's contact info: simplycarla [at] ph 510-847-3789

Seeking excellent college application essay coach

My son is generally a good student but is having some anxiety about writing the college application essays. We do not want a full package as provided by some college consultants as my son knows generally where he wants to attend college. Furthermore, the cost of a full package is a bit more than we want to spend. Instead, we want a college application essay coach who can help him with his ideas, help keep him on track, and of course help him express himself in the best way possible. Recommendations would be appreciated. Hopeful

If your son goes to Berkeley High, there is a free college essay writing service provided by trained writing coaches. Some of them even offer their services professionally but give back to the community by volunteering at Berkeley High. My daughter got excellent help there. I'm sure other people will post names of writing coaches they've worked with as well. Best of luck.

We have been very happy working with Ellen Bull. She provides only this service. ewbull [at] Leslie M

Our daughter worked with Kathleen McCleary last year -- she has a really good process and is a gifted journalist/novelist and teacher. She focuses only on college essays, not the rest of college admissions stuff. (Caution: She won't write the essay for him if that's what you're looking for.) She's great at connecting with teens, has two of her own. Worked very easily thru Skype/phone/email. You can see her info here: Or if you want to go it alone without professional help, I also recommend her tips on how to write a good college essay here: mom of happy freshman

We want to recommend Mary Finn – whom I found on BPN – as a spectacular college tutor/advisor. My high-school twins worked with Mary last year and are headed this fall to colleges they are enormously excited about. Mary began by creating a system for identifying and evaluating schools that interested them or that she thought they should consider. She then explained the details of the application process and guided them through each part. She oversaw all the deadlines for submissions as well as managing a comprehensive checklist of other necessary tasks. She made the entire experience fun and rewarding rather than intimidating or onerous. She knows the technical pitfalls of online applications inside out (and how to fix seemingly intractable problems with forms and formats). Best of all, Mary is a very warm, empathic, perceptive and genuine mentor and coach who challenges students to challenge themselves and encourages them every step of the way. We feel so lucky to have worked with her. Mary has an extensive background in education with a specialty in college prep (see her LinkedIn bio). She can be reached at maryelizabethfinn [at] . Katrina H

Lesley Quinn is extraordinary. I thought we were hiring someone to help our son polish up his college admission essays. What we got was someone who had real conversations with him that were surprisingly deep. They dredged up experiences in his life that illuminated what a great kid he is, and then Lesley helped him turn that raw material into professional-class little memoirs. We were blown away by some of the things he wrote (and thought!), either because we hadn't heard about them at all, or didn't get how meaningful they were to him. The whole process had a 'rites of initiation' kind of significance, and he was highly motivated to do revisions for her to get them just so. We just kind of stumbled into a wonderful experience for him (and us). Happy Dad

Jamie Keller helped my daughter Jasmin on her college application essays last year. She is a great mentor and has an excellent approach to kids making them feel comfortable. Jasmin was accepted by many universities including her ultimate choice, Georgia Technology University, in an extremely competitive admissions environment. Now Jamie is helping my younger daughter to craft her essay. I am very confident that Allison, like her sister, will also be accepted to high caliber school. I highly recommend Jamie to any students that need help. She was a great help throughout the process, whether your child has no topic to start with or simply needs to refine their essay. Jamie email address: jamiekeller1 [at] phone#(510)524-8697 mobile/(510)847-2505 work Ellen

Tutor / Editor to help craft memorable college essays

I cannot praise tutor Lesley Quinn more! Lesley [at] Lesley worked wonders for my son, when he was confronted with the daunting task of writing his college essay. He was stumped as to what subject to write about, had some thoughts, but had no clear idea which topics would help reveal who he was, and what was important to him. Using skilled probing and insightful questions, Lesley helped Sam evolve subjects to determine his best material for the essay. She helped him take his very rough written ideas, through multiple drafts so he would offer a final polished essay (skills that served him well in college). Lesley is friendly, warm collaborative, and was a master at activating his own motivation and helping him work in a timely fashion to meet deadlines. As stressed out parents, we were not helpful in this department (understatement!) Lesley encouraged, and carefully helped Sam discover his own strengths. She did not write any part of his essay -- it all came from him, inspired by her calm and thoughtful support. VB

I highly recommend Sarah Shankman as College Admission Essay Coach. We were very fortunate to find Sarah through BPN, as we frantically searched for guidance in the midst of the college application season. My son had too many ideas, yet no clear direction on what to write in his essay. His SAT score was a mixed bag, so he was really counting on his college essay to make a difference.

We met Sarah at her lovely fairytale cottage in Berkeley and found her to be very pleasant and professional. After a brief introduction, she got right to the business interviewing and brainstorming ideas. By the end of our first meeting my son emerged with a clear idea of what he wants to write about. Sarah's efficiency is remarkable and her influence on teenagers is magic. With Sarah's guidance and thoughtful editing my son wrote 2 wonderful essays. He got admitted into Purdue with $, UCD, UCSB, UCSC honors $.

You can find Sarah at UCSB mom

I highly recommend Sarah Shankman as an excellent College Admissions Essay Coach! Sarah assisted my son with crafting his college application essays and was an invaluable resource during his college application process. The hardest part of the college admissions process is knowing how to get started and Sarah put my son on the right path. She helped him to create a plan for his application statements that highlighted his unique personality and showcased his talents. Sarah is responsive, professional, and a delight to work with. Beyond helping my son with his essays, Sarah helped to boost his confidence with the overall application process. Thanks to Sarah's help, he was admitted to some of his top choices! Sarah has a website and her email address is sarah [at] Adrienne

If you are going to do to anything to help your child get into their desired college, I would highly suggest using Sarah Shankman to help with the college essay process. We have 3 sons, now all starting/going to college. We talked to/worked with various college counselors, and we are all in total agreement that our best time and money spent was working with Sarah Shankman for our son's college essays. We approached Sarah last Summer, before Senior year, because we wanted to get a basic UC application and Common Application essay completed for our twin sons before school and all of their activities started. Even though the official questions were not out yet for the colleges for the Fall, we were able with Sarah's help to have general ideas on what to expect and find topics that would fit many questions asked by the colleges. This ended up being a great plan so that we were able to do early admission applications at most schools and be done with the essays before school started. This really helped relieve the stress of the college application process. Sarah met with each son talked through thier ideas and helped them flesh them out and give them a framework for how to proceed. This was incredibly helpful. All of us had an immediate connection with Sarah, which was not true with others we met. She is very nice and easy to work with and just immediately makes you feel at ease. From there, the boys were able to create 4 essays (2 topic) that fit the mold for almost all of the college applications that we did. They applied widely for colleges- UC's, out of state Universities and private colleges, and the boys were able to use these essays in almost all situations. During the application process though, my sons came to me with concerns about a couple of questions for private Catholic colleges that they did not even understand. My husband and I (both with advanced degress) were also not clear on what they were asking and were truly at a loss. We called Sarah again and asked her to help us figure it out. She was able to explain what the question meant and knowing my boys, suggested directions to be taken for them and again helped them with a framework on how to proceed. This was very kind of her, because at this point she was busy helping others and really went out of her way to accomodate our last minute question (you know how boys can procastinate). Both sons were accepted at many colleges and were fortunate enough to have great college choices. They are convinced that Sarah is part of the reason that they got into great schools. Other consultants have people that read over the essays, edit them, etc. Sarah really takes the time to understand your child and your family. Her focus is on the essays as this is her expertise, and she is great at it! We were all very happy with the boy's essays and thought they truly reflected the boys individuality and talents in a great way. We have no hesitation in recommending her. KristiM

I would like to recommend Jamie Keller as the best tutor that I have ever hired for my daughter. She helped my daughter write two wonderful essays for her college applications. My daughter was so worried about the essays and had no idea how to get started. Jamie was able to help her calm down and then guided her through the writing process which resulted in two wonderful essays. My daughter felt that the essays represented her and were in her voice. I highly recommend Jamie. You may contact her at JamieKeller1 [at] or at 510-524-8697. JC

College admission essays are very stressful for both the student and the parent. Jamie Keller helped my daughter write the two essays that are required for the UC application. She made the process so smooth and stress free for both my daughter and I. Jamie and my daughter met once, discussed topics and then they met via Skype to continue the conversation and within a few weeks, two wonderful essays were written. My daughter was concerned about ensuring the essays represented her individuality and Jamie was able to help her succeed in attaining that goal. I would definitely recommend Jamie Keller to anyone who is looking for help and guidance for their teen in this process. mm.c

College Essay tutor for high school senior

My son is entering his senior year of High School. Does anyone have a recommendation for an essay tutor who could help him navigate the college essay murky waters? Thanks a lot. Marie

Carla Castillo provided writing coaching for my son during his senior year. Carla read his college application essays and gave thoughtful guidance. Carla was encouraging, patient, and understanding through the revisions. I would recommend Carla's professional service for your student's writing needs. You will be reassured after contacting Carla at simplycarlacastillo [at] . Mary

I'd like to recommend Heather MacLeod ( macleodphd [at] ). She used to work as a recruiter at UC Berkeley's grad school of education, helping students improve their admissions essays. My 13-yr-old son worked with her for 5 or 6 1-hr sessions (mostly 1x/wk) for an essay he needed to write for acceptance to an educational opportunity program. Very similar to HS application essays. And to college application essays, I think, though we're not there yet. I was skeptical that my son would be able to work with anyone, but I needed to try something because he certainly wasn't able to work with me and he wasn't getting it done on his own. I was very pleasantly surprised that with no resistance from my son, Heather had him writing, editing, etc. She has a very easygoing way that accomplishes what needs to get done. She also has a lovely personality and is pleasant to work with. If you have specific questions I haven't addressed, please feel free to contact me directly. Best of luck. klc

Heather MacLeod has been tutoring my son for a few years. My son's writting and comprehension skills have improved dramatically, thanks to Heather's effective teaching methodologies. Heather connects with and relates to kids very well. Her students adore her and looks forward to attending her classes. Heather is one of the most dedicated teachers we have ever known and she genuinely cares how her students are doing in school. I highly recommend Heather. Her email is macleodphd [at] . Maggie-David's mom

I'm a little late in responding to the person who has a high school senior and is looking for someone to help with College Essays. I can strongly recommend Carla Castillo at: simplycarla [at] or by phone at 510-847-3789. She worked with my son, a BHS 2013 graduate , on both of his essays. He felt like she totally understood what he was trying to say and was able to guide him in finding his own voice and to put that down on paper. Those essays can now be found in the latest edition of, The Berkeley High Book of College Essays on Amazon. I'm not trying to sell the book bus am using it as an example of where Carla can take a child with their writing. Wishing you the best in this next process Diana C

I would like to highly recommend Sarah Shankman as a college admissions essay coach.

I found Ms Shankman on this website last year and was touched by the recommendations, especially the ones praising her ability to work with teens. Later we found this out to be quite true.

Ms Shankman not only helped to guide his essays while respecting his true voice, but also gave him many several suggestions about his college application. The amazing thing is that my teenage boy was really willing to listen to her and accept her suggestions. Those made his essay writing, as well as the whole application, less stressful. She even gave him advice on time management.

Now my boy has been admitted into a great school he really likes and I believe his essays played a critical role in the process. We all feel very lucky to have Ms Shankman as a college admissions essay coach and we appreciate her help very much. ( -Hong

Fabulous College Essay Coach I write to wholeheartedly recommend my daughter's college essay coach, Jamie Keller. Jamie was a huge help throughout this process, and really took most of the stress out of it. My daughter was having trouble getting started, and Jamie worked with her brainstorming essay topics, and then asked the right questions to flesh out the topic. She reviewed drafts and offered insightful and constructive comments, always making sure that my daughter was the author and that the essay was in her voice. My daughter ended up with several lovely, well-written essays that really expressed her personality. Jamie has a very gentle and supportive manner and put my daughter immediately at ease. We also recommended Jamie to my niece, who lives in Las Vegas. She worked with Jamie entirely remotely and was also very pleased. Jamie can be reached at jamiekeller1 [at] Emily

My daughter Danielle worked with Jamie Keller who assisted Danielle in writing her college application essays. Although we live out of state, Jamie was able to communicate using Skipe. She was insightful, focused, intelligent, and creative as she assisted Danielle develop excellent thoughtful essays. Jamie was able to illuminate those concepts within the essay that would be most interesting to a prospective evaluator. Jamie has a professional, constructive approach which avoids simple criticism in favor of helpful recommendations to solidify ideas and clarify language. Danielle found this attitude to be collegial and non judgmental. Danielle would recommend Jamie to any college applicant without reservation and with respect and admiration for her skills, personality and professionalism. Grateful parent

Writing coach needed for college entrance essays

I am applying to a very competitive nursing program in the fall and need to submit 3 writing samples. Writing is not my strong suit, and am hoping someone has a recommendation on where to find a fantastic writing coach. I don't want to use craigslist. Thank you in advance! anon

I'd like to refer you to Kirsten Enriquez. She's a writing coach/dissertation coach, she's very easy to work with, and she's good at what she does. I've used her as a writer, not a coach - she wrote the material on my website ( and she writes other marketing materials for me - but I know that for the most part she works with students or professors on academic material, and I've met clients of hers who find her coaching to be very helpful and empowering. I think she's fantastic! She can be reached at k.enriquez [at] or 614/623-6426. Good luck! rebecah

I recommend Deborah Davis -- see her website at She was a great help in the college essay process for my son this year. She worked with him once or twice in person - then reviewed his essays via email and phone. Excellent results, easy to work with. em

I would like to recommend Jamie Keller for anyone looking for a writing coach. My son has been working with Jamie on his college essays and he and I are very pleased with the results. Jamie provides guidance on how to develop, structure, and refine these essays in a way that allows for improved writing skill, not just a completed essay. jamiekeller1 [at] satisfied mother

I highly recommend Jamie Keller. Jamie is an excellent college application essay coach who really understands how to help students make their personal statements pop. My daughter Erin had some ideas about what she wanted to write about. Jamie listened to Erin, and helped her choose and develop her topics for UC, the Common Application, and the many supplements the colleges required. She encouraged Erin to believe in the power of her own voice, guiding her through the process until her finished essays were unique stories only Erin could tell. Jamie showed her that by using vivid language and creating images that would stay in the reader's mind, her essays would be memorable and stand out from the rest. Jamie was right. Erin is now a freshman at Vassar, and I am sure that her powerful essays were a major factor in her acceptance to the school. Jamie's contact information: Jamie Keller, MA Education Educational Therapist/Professional 510 524-8697 510 847-2505 cell Sarah A.

Jamie Keller is an excellent college essay tutor! She helped my daughter 3 years ago and my son this year. She has gently guided them to create a unique statement, reflecting their personality and voice. With my son, in order to work around his schedule after meeting in person a couple of sessions, they worked online via Skype and Word Docs. Each of my children have different ways of working and Jamie was able to encourage each of them to excel and succeed. Jamie Keller (510) 524-8697 Pat H.

Seeking REASONABLY priced College Admission Essay Coach

I am seeking a REASONABLY priced College Admission Essay Coach. I've contacted three (3) coaches/advisors recommended by this network and, all of which, are WAY TOO EXPENSIVE! $180 to $105 per hr? Really? That's more than what AP Physics/Chemistry and some SAT Tutors are charging, and in my opinion, almost more important than admission essays. Any additional recommendations would be appreciated. Anon

I would recommend Elizabeth Garst or Ruby Bernstein. Both are reasonably priced and are good essay coaches. Judith B

How important is a college essay coach?

How important is it to hire a coach to help our son with his college essay? My son has good grades and knows which colleges he want to apply to. My only concern is the essay part since I see many people around me are hiring college consultants for their children. How expensive is the service if it is limited to coaching the student with the essay? If you think it is a good idea, then your recommendation for a good and yet affordable college essay coach is appreciated, too. mother of a junior

I highly recommend hiring an essay coach for two main reasons: 1) in this extremely competitive college admissions market, the essay can be the make it or break it part of the application, and 2) during the process of developing a tight and persuasive piece of writing, students can begin to see their own experiences and unique gifts coming into sharp focus.

My daughter had a truly memorable experience with Lesley Quinn. Not only did she emerge a better and more confident writer, she enjoyed the process thoroughly. Lesley understands what the colleges are looking for. She encourages kids to be self-reflective and to dig below the surface to find the most real and compelling story. My daughter found Lesley to be supportive, kind, and fun to work with. In the end, my daughter was accepted to every one of her top choice schools. Heidi

Hi, I wanted to recommend that you contact Lesley Quinn, who was a terrific help to my daughter when she was writing her college essays. Lesley is smart, funny and personable (which made my daughter invested in the work they were doing together) and organized, with scheduled deadlines and due dates for revisions (which allowed me the wonderful relief of not worrying or micromanaging!). It was a fabulous experience for my daughter, and her essay was well written, clearly her own voice and had the desired outcome of admission to the school that she most wanted to attend. I couldn't have been happier with Lesley's work. You can contact her at Happy Mom

We would like to highly recommend Sarah Shankman as a college admissions essay coach. Our daughter is an A student and very capable of writing her own essay alone, but we chose to have Sarah work with her just to be 'safe.' Sarah helped her brainstorm ideas, organize, and outline. After our daughter composed her essay Sarah edited it. We found her to be very knowledgeable, easy to work with, and a delightful person. Our daughter ended up being accepted by 13 of the 15 colleges she applied to and almost all offered merit $. Sarah took a lot of the stress out of this all-too-stressful process. Her contact info is lark

Sarah Shankman is wonderful! She worked with both of our children on their college application essays. Our kids are very different in many ways. She was able to connect with each of them and help them focus their ideas and efforts. Our daughter was looking for comments from many people, including her parents. Not surprising, she got many different comments. It seemed like she had almost too many ideas and directions to go. With Sarah's guidance, she was able to create sussinct and cohesive essays. She was very happy with the results. Our son would not accept help from anyone, especially his parents. Sarah became the one exception. The process she used was remarkable in getting him first to identify what he wanted to say. Following that, he even accepted her guidance in composing the essays. We still have not read his essays. That's his decision. Both of our children seemed proud of their work. Sarah did not do the writing for them. She brought it out of them. Perhaps more to the point, both of our children have been accepted in programs that were at the top of their list. They actually were accepted at a number of schools. That seemed almost a luxury. I can't recommend Ms Shankman highly enough A relieved parent

I want to recommend great assistance with college essay writing! (Jamie Keller: Jamiekeller1 [at] ) My son had a writer's block, especially having to write about himself which is hard for anybody. I hired the hgihly recommended (by the moms in my book group with 3 seniors this year working with her):, Jamie Keller. She worked with a painfully rough first draft and somehow got him motivated to address her feedback and come up with other drafts. He absolutely would not listen to any adult feedback so her skills working with him were admirable. I am happy to say that he got into his first choice college. He did finally write a personal and revealing essay for the Common app, which he was able to break into two parts to address the UC apps. Yeah Jamie! I highly recommend her to anyone with a kid is who is resistant to writing. smartsalgal

I enthusiastically recommend Sarah Shankman for assistance in the college application process. She worked with our son on his essays and was incredibly helpful.

Not only did she help him complete his essays early, but she met with him to discuss topic ideas and through that truly helped him find his voice in a very stressful process.

The result was some terrific essays that we are confident helped him gain admission to a great university. Having someone who is not affiliated with his high school -- and not his parent or relative - was invaluable to all of us. Throughout it all, Sarah was responsive and always kept his ideas at the forefront. He was proud of the final product -- as were we.

They worked primarily through phone and email -- perfect given how busy high school seniors are.

She was great and we will definitely connect with her again when our youngest is ready to begin the college admissions process! Cindy

I want to recommend Sarah Shankman, a college admission essay coach. My daughter is an excellent student, but dyslexic and writing is not easy for her. She had a hard time finding a topic for her college essay that expressed who she is. Sarah took all the stress out of the essay. She worked one on one both in person and through email and helped my daughter find a topic, organize her ideas and edit her final draft. Sarah also helped her manage her time and finish the essays in plenty of time.

My daughter said: Sarah helped me take a step back and not just focus on the final essay. She helped me brainstorm and think about what I wanted the college to know about me.

We had a great experience with Sarah and my daughter was admitted to all of her top choices. jd

We would like to share our wonderful experience using Sarah Shankman as an essay consultant for our daughter, Katie during her college application process this year. Katie will be proudly attending Vanderbilt University this Fall and we credit Sarah and her expertise as part of the reason for her success.

Sarah was recommended to us by friends who used her services in 2010. Those girls are now students at NYU and USC. We found working with Sarah a true delight. After our initial meeting with her, all work between Katie and Sarah was handled without the need of parental involvement, making it a truly student-driven process that allowed Katie to represent her voice alone in her essays. We felt this was very important for Katie to do on her own.

While Katie was accepted early decision to the Vanderbilt School of Engineering, she applied to several other equally prestigious schools and was accepted to several. Sarah helped her tailor her essays to meet the different schools' requirements. Katie loved working with Sarah and found the process very comfortable and positive.

Our son will be beginning the college application process next summer and we will, no doubt, be calling upon Sarah to help him find his voice and tell his story successfully in his college application essays. We encourage you to visit her website at to find out more about her services. You won't be sorry! Lisa

College Essay Consultant: Students looking to put their best foot forward when writing essays for college applications ....we have a secret weapon to share. Her name is Sarah Shankman and she can be reached at My son (math guy) hated to write anything,let alone write about himself. Our experience with Sarah transcended the typical notion of using a consultant or tutor. It is not just the fact that she has stellar credentials as a novelist and editor ...but, she was able to get my son to change his perspective on writing. So much so that he took a journalism class and wrote great articles all year for the school and local papers. She taught him how to have fun with words and how to convey who he is. The bottom line is that he got into 22/24 schools (we had special reason for so many apps-really only need about 10-12). Many of these schools were thought to be out of his reach and are very competitive. He got into schools that kids with higher GPA's and test scores did not get into - simply because of his essays. He was able to connect with his audience due to Sarah. She is simply the best,..end of story. Results speak for themselves and this is too precious of an opportunity to squander on unproven consultants. We lucked out! Many college consultants say they also do essays but I would recommend keeping those two processes separate. In this competitive environment the essay is too important to risk. Best of luck! j.g.

Seeking a tutor to help with college essay

Seeking a tutor to help my teen daughter with her college essay and planning. She hasn't decided the major/minor yet, highly interested in art (I don't think that will end up as her major). Great grades (3.8 GPA), but not strongly focused on science or AP classes and with limited extracurricular activities. Ideally I would like someone who can come to our house in Cupertino or within a reasonable driving distance (10 miles or so). Lisa

Lesley Quinn helped our daughter with her application essays and she was wonderful. She wasn't inexpensive but the results were definitely worth the investment. We felt as if our daughter's writing skills were sharpened, but more than that, Leslie helped her write a story that was personal, honest, and essential to who she is. Parent of Recent Ivy League Graduate

I would like to recommend Lesley Quinn as an outstanding writing tutor for college essays. Lesley is extremely skilled (she is a published writer), knowledgeable, organized, patient, kind and very insightful. She makes the college essay process a valuable learning experience rather than a dreary set of hurdles to be gotten over. My daughter actually enjoyed writing her college essays, because as she worked through the drafts she learned a lot about writing and also a lot about herself. And she was accepted at all the colleges she was interested in! Lesley focuses specifically on the essay part of applying to college, but she collaborates with other college admissions counselors who can work with you on college selection and so forth. I could not recommend Lesley more highly. Check out her website: satisfied mom

I highly recommend Marita Surace. You can reach her at (408) 501-8887 or by email at msurace [at] . She invests herself in her clients and she's knowledgeable, thorough, and effective. Linda

I highly recommend Barbara Gates for help with college application essays. My son felt hopelessly blocked when it came to writing his personal essay. He wanted his experience to be told it in his own voice, but the draft he brought to Barbara, if honest, was wooden and lacked movement. Right away, Barbara proved to be a wonderful listener. A high school English teacher for decades, and a gifted published writer, and editor, she has a natural ease in drawing from a reluctant teen the experiences that shape a life and the details that make it unique. What is wonderful about Barbara is that she did so without ever giving suggestions, letting my son take charge of the entire process. She helped him link his initial ideas, moving the story to a thoughtful, arresting conclusion. After three revisions, the final product has kept the freshness of the initial draft. I have heard that the best story reads like unfolding self-discovery. By this standard, my son's essay is a winner. Best of all, thanks to Barbara's unobtrusive help, he can rightfully and proudly take ownership of it. Barbara tutors in her home office in West Berkeley. You may contact her at (510) 486-0236 or at bgates [at] Grateful Parent

My daughter, Courtney, went to Jamie Keller, or (510)524-8697, for help with her college application essays. Jamie did a wonderful job of gently coaching her to bring out her own voice in her essays. Here is Courtney's recommendation:

My name is Courtney, and I am a freshman at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon (go Pioneers!); I went to Jamie last year in September when I was having trouble composing my personal statements for UC and private schools. Jamie Keller helped me more in the space of a single hour than my Lit teacher had in an entire month! In two sessions (one hour each, one week apart due to scheduling conflicts on my part) at Jamie's house in Berkeley, we had written a 700-odd word essay, which I was able to use for most of my 16 college applications. In another hour, I had a shorter essay (300-odd words) which I was able to use for a few other applications. Jamie helped me pull up creative ideas and ferret out those which I was most passionate about, suggesting a more dynamic verb here and a change in syntax there, leading me to create a written masterpiece which, despite my poor math scores, earned me a place on an Ivy League waitlist (colleges nation-wide were positively inundated with applications this year, and admissions abruptly became intensely selective and difficult). With so many qualified applicants jockeying for position, personal statements are often the only way to distinguish oneself against the crowd nowadays. I'm certain that Jamie Keller's help afforded my own distinction, and a place on the second-most-beautiful campus in America! Patricia

Aug 15 2010

My family and I would highly recommend Sharon Travers as a college app essay tutor! She was tremendously helpful throughout all parts of my brother's college applications. She walked him step by step through the essay writing and he couldn't have ever expected or asked more of her. He states, ''Without Sharon, I feel I would have never had even a change to get into any out-of-state school. I would recommend her to anyone who needs help with any part of the college application process.'' Please contact her! She's wonderful and very knowledgeable! Kate S.

My son had a great experience with a college application essay tutor, Jamie Keller ( jamiekeller1 [at] ''Writing college essays can be really stressful - like any of of need more stress in our lives - and Jamie made it fun while helping draw out the best of him. Here's what my son had to say about her: When I started the college essay writing process, I really had no Idea how to approach it. Jamie helped me play with ideas and words and I ended up writing one of the best things I've ever written, which I think helped get me into Brown.''

Need Help with College Essays

Our kid is an earnest student with not-bad grades and a lot of worries about leaving home. We're hoping to avoid escalating nerves in our houseshold by starting to think & talk about the college application process with our sophomore now. The thing that appears to be causing the most worries are the essays, so we thought we'd start slowly with some experienced coaching on that pretty soon. Can anyone recommend someone in the East Bay or Contra Costa who is particularly skilled working with students who lack confidence (about both writing and adult life)? Perhaps a tall order, we know... -Trying to Gear Up

College essays benefit from the student's increased maturity and understanding of himself and his goals. I think that it would be better to work now to help your son gain confidence and expand his experiences in life. Maybe a life coach (not a college essay coach) could be of help. Wait until the summer after his junior year of high school to get someone to help with college essays when your son has more maturity and has done more in his life. The essays will then be a stronger reflection of who he is. Anonymous

Dear Trying to Gear Up, I am writing both as a college admissions professional and as a parent of two college students who went through the admissions process in vastly different ways.

It's clear both you and your son are anxious about the college application process and about having him leave home. But my instinct is that dealing with that now may not be productive or relieve either your anxiety or your son's. Most of his thoughts about everything, including college and himself, are likely to change a lot between now and the fall of his senior year. Many sophomores--especially boys--are simply not ready to deal with the introspection a good essay requires, and suggesting that he begin thinking about that now may only add to his insecurity. (Most teens are sure they have Nothing to Say.)

Of course you need to make sure that he is taking the courses, getting the grades, and developing the habits that will help him succeed in college. Beyond that, I would focus on a general and positive message about college: wonderful time of life, unique and special experience, lots and lots of wonderful colleges out there, plenty of places and opportunities that will work for him, lots of time over the next 2 years to explore options. If he is specifically anxious about the essay, you could show him what some simple and unthreatening prompts look like (the UC prompts are straightforward and not ''tricky'' examples).

But the best way to prepare for the essay is to (1) write daily in a journal about impressions, reflections, responses to the world around him and (2) read good fiction and nonfiction, including memoirs and biographies that pull out central themes and lessons from individuals' lives. Good luck!!

I recommend Lesley Quinn for college application essay help. Lesley worked with my daughter on her college essay, and she was terrific in every way. Lesley was able to read the first draft and tease out the most promising themes, which she then guides the student in developing and articulating in a clear and engaging way. She is warm and encouraging, but also encouraged my daughter to work hard and rewrite until it was her best work. My daughter ended up doing six or seven drafts of her essay, and was really pleased with the final result. She also enjoyed the process, and feels that she learned a great deal about herself and about writing along the way. She had a very successful college application process, and it would have been so different without Lesley to help and guide her. You can find out more about Lesley on her website: I don't think you can find a better essay coach anywhere. Satisfied Mother

My daughter, now a college freshman, had a fantastic experience working with Lesley Quinn. Lesley is a professional writer, mother of a college student, and a smart, gentle and funny woman. Here's what my daughter liked best about working with Lesley: she always felt respected and appreciated, and that her unique voice was being heard. Here's what I liked best: I had complete trust that my daughter was receiving perfect mentoring, and that I could step back from involvement with this piece of the process. You can reach Lesley at Grateful mom

I saw your post and wanted to share our experience. We hired Cynthia because we needed guidance and reassurance. My daughter is an average student with minimal activities but Cynthia gave her the encouragement to boost her grades and explore her interests. Cynthia was always available and helped my daughter understand her power in the process. During the application phase, Cynthia was there every step of the way with significant attention to essay development.

From a parent who has been through the process, I felt that the summer before her senior year was ample time to develop a strong essay; however, the advice Cynthia provided during the earlier years was invaluable. We could not have made it through the process without Cynthia. Her genuine concern and dedication for my daughter's success turned a chaotic time into a fulfilling journey for my daughter. I believe you would have the same experience. She can be reached at 925-548-0002 D.

I would like to recommend Lesley Quinn in Berkeley as a remarkable college essay coach. Lesley helped my son with his law school application. She was very supportive and gentle but also able to push him to clarify his ideas and to write about them in a forceful and unique way. I have no doubt that Lesley's thoughtful imput was extremely helpful to my son and I am happy to report that he was admitted to his top law school choices. Lesley is warm,funny and has a great way with kids as well as a great way with words. It sounds to me like she would be a wonderful coach for your child. kathy

I would like to recommend Drew Lau-Regent in the Oakland/Berkeley area as a coach for college essays. Drew is very easy going and receptive but keeps her focus on the goal. She is unusual in that she has a great deal of training in the college guidance process. This allows her to help with college essays while counseling students at the same time regarding what they want in an education and career. DrewC,bs rates are reasonable because she has recently transitioned from technical writing in the corporate world where she excelled. I know Drew personally and would not hesitate to refer her. Drew can be reached at 510.928.9520. rp

From my experience observing several consultants' practices in another part of the country, the biggest obstacle students face when writing college application essays is a lack of writing skills. College consultants do not write essays. They walk kids through the paperwork involved in applying to school. Some add value to their services by sharing knowledge gained through first hand visits to colleges. Some are former admissions officers. My advise for you is to find a tutor who has extensive experience helping kids with their writing. Stay away from ''coaches''. The tutor should have a background in the liberal arts preferably with teaching at the high school level. This person should not write your kid's essay. Rather he/she should help improve your kid's writing in English and history classes. When it comes time to write the college essay, he/she can help your kid with the editing. If you hire a college consultant, you can have the tutor collaborate with the consultant. anon

Hi, In response to the posting about the role of an essay coach -- I have found that the problem is not so much that students don't know how to write, but that the majority of them do not know how to write about themselves in a personal and compelling manner. To me writing is all about creating images in the reader's mind, and as a college application essay coach, I help my students write in a way that makes their words memorable and their essays stand out from the rest. Jamie

I am very pleased to recommend Sarah Shankman ( for assistance with writing college application essays

Recently Sarah worked with our daughter to help her write her essays for the University of California and the Common Application. My wife and I greatly appreciated Sarah's guidance throughout this process. First, Sarah helped and encouraged our daughter to brainstorm ideas for each question. She then patiently worked with her to fine tune subsequent drafts until her essays were completed to everyone's satisfaction. Sarah's editing skills were remarkably helpful for staying within the required word limits while making sure the essays remained consistent with our daughter's own writing style and persona.

Our daughter enjoyed working with Sarah very much. Sarah helped her to produce top quality final essays in a manner that was reasonably paced and relatively stress free. Having Sarah assist with the essays enabled my wife and I to help support the overall process without getting too involved in the actual writing. This proved to be a very good strategy for keeping peace in the family and produced essays that really do reflect our daughter's perspectives and experiences.

All of us greatly appreciated Sarah's quality work, professional skills and supportive personal style. She is a very good writer and editor, and works very well with students facing the challenge of the college essays. Regarding the cost, Sarah's rates are very competitive for the quality of service she provides.

Finally, with Sarah's help our daughter was admitted to the University of California, Santa Cruz, Northeastern, and University of San Diego.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like more information. Eric K.

I highly recommend Sarah Shankman in Berkeley as a college essay coach. Our daughter has difficulty organizing essays and really needed extra assistance. Sarah and she discussed each essay prior to my daughter writing a detailed outline, and she gave very specific direction as to next steps after each meeting. Sarah was also very patient and our daughter enjoyed working with her. The process went very smoothly, and I believe our daughter's writing skills improved along the way. Having experienced third party help also relieved some stress for my husband and me during the admissions process. In the end, Sarah Shankman helped our daughter craft very strong college admission essays. We live in Marin and it was worth traveling to Berkeley for the sessions. We highly recommend her. She can be contacted through her website at a Marin mom

I can recommend an EXCELLENT college essay coach: Lesley Quinn (I think she has a website). She worked with our son on all his admission essays and we were blown away by the end result. She's not cheap, and she doesn't help identify the best colleges - her focus is just the essays - but she's kind, insightful, goal-oriented, encouraging, and best of all, our son loved working with her and he got everything done early (which was a miracle). She talked with me for about 30 minutes on the phone (for free) about our son first, and then he met with her two times to brainstorm essay topics. After that, they sent essay drafts back and forth by email. Good luck. anon

Supporting son in college essays

We're going to want our high school junior to start thinking about his college essays pretty soon (he doesn't do well under the pressure of looming last-minute deadlines). He also works best one-on-one so signing him up for one of these summer bootcamps we're seeing isn't the best fit for him. Anyone have a recommendation for someone who can support him through this important writing challenge? Carol M

Hi, My daughter is now a senior. When she was ready to begin work on her college essays, we contacted Lesley Quinn. Lesley was smart, funny and always supportive. She worked solely with my daughter, setting up deadlines for drafts, editing, discussing, but always kept me in the loop. She always encouraged my daughter to be true to herself, and speak from her own voice and be proud of herself.

In the roller coaster ride of the admissions process, one of the best moments was a letter from a senior admissions officer at a small liberal arts college, who wrote to my daughter: ''I just wanted to tell you that I LOVED your college essay. Great work!''

That's my summary of our experience with Lesley Quinn.....great work! She can be reached at Happy mom/ successful senior

We used Lesley Quinn ( for help on our daughter's essays and she was great. We didn't feel the need for a more soup-to- nuts college counselor...just help on the essays themselves, and she gave us exactly what we needed. Our daughter felt empowered by the process, the essays remained her own, but they were so much better than they would have been without Lesley's skilled and gentle raising of the bar. (Our daughter is now a student at Tufts.) AM

I have a wonderful person to recommend for help with personal essays specifically college or graduate school application essays. Lesley Quinn helped my son with his personal essay when he applied to law school and she was terrific! A skillful writer herself, Lesley brings to her work with teens and young adults a wonderful mix of smarts, kindness, supportiveness and high expectations. She worked closely with my son to define and clarify his thoughts and helped him to frame a remarkably strong, clear personal essay. I am happy to report that he was accepted to his top school choices including NYU, Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley) and UCLA. I recommend Lesley without reservations - she is truly a gem! - Kathy

For a terrific college counselor in the East Bay, I highly recommend Wendy Morrison. Our twins, who are graduating from Miramonte, worked with Wendy and had a very good and successful experience. She removed much of the stress from the college search process (for all of us) by providing sound, practical advice as well as consistent support and encouragement throughout. Wendy is highly energetic, very engaging and extremely well organized. She is exceptionally responsive to the students \xc2\x96 and to the parents. She helps the students get organized, identify and select schools to which to apply and assists in the preparation and submission of the applications, including idea generation for, and refinement of, the essays. Wendy works from her home in Kensington, which is just a short drive through Tilden Park from the Lamorinda area. Based on Wendy's knowledge, enthusiasm, supportiveness and overall love of what she does, our family highly recommends giving her a call at (510) 384-5962. Good luck! Lamorinda Parent

Our daughter worked with Lesley Quinn (525-4104). Lesley totally got what our daughter wanted to convey and worked gently and insightfully, making suggestions that allowed her to develop her story and convey both her experience and her personality without feeling as if she were losing her voice or her control; her essays remained her own in every way. We'll never understand the mysterious application evaluation process but we feel that our daughter's essays conveyed to a room full of strangers a lot about who our daughter is. We highly recommend Lesley to those who face this daunting task. -A relieved parent

A while back, someone posted a recommendation for a woman who helped with the college admissions essay process. I think her name was Jamie? I can't find her in the archives, and would be grateful if someone could post her name and contact info again. Thanks! parent of high school senior

Jamie Keller is the person who helped my daughter so much with her college essay writing. Her number is 524-8697 and she also has a website: relieved mom

Help with personal essay

August 2008

My son is going to start the college application process and I'm looking for a consultant who can help him with his personal statement essay. Does anyone have a recommendation for someone who has good experience with this? My older son received help from a former U.C. Berkeley application reader, but she is no longer available.

You might call Sharon Rudnick at 510-848-9350. 1578 Milvia St Berkeley, CA sharon_rudnick [at] She helps with essays, applications, searching out the right schools, finding options, etc. I recommend her. Nathan

i would like to recommend lesley quinn for college application essay help. lesley worked with my daughter on her college essay in 2007, and she was an extraordinary guide and editor throughout the process. lesley has a remarkable ability to read the first draft and tease out the most promising themes, which she then assists the student in developing and articulating in a clear and engaging way. she is kind and supportive, while at the same time setting the bar high and encouraging the student to do his or her very best work. my daughter ended up doing six or seven drafts of her essay, and was really pleased with the final result. she also enjoyed the process, and feels that she learned a great deal about herself and about writing along the way. and she was accepted to all but one of the colleges she applied to! you can find out more about lesley on her website: i don't think you can find a better essay coach anywhere. heidi

My daughter struggled with her college essay last year. She is a good enough writer but had enormous trouble talking about herself. Mid-summer, she consulted with a very expensive and well-known tutoring service. She got a sense of where to start and a ''hook'' for the essay and then got bogged down and remained there for months, despite more sessions with the original tutor. With the deadlines coming up, she found another person to help, who gave her advice that sent her another, and I might add, fruitless and frustrating direction. At the 11th hour, we finally found Jamie Keller, who read my daughter's lifeless essays, talked and listened carefully to her, and then patiently taught her how to show, rather than tell her story. Jamie worked with her through multiple versions and helped her find her voice. The final essays were compelling and rang true. In working with Jamie, my daughter gained confidence in herself as a writer, and she is sure that her essays helped her get into Cal. Jamie's number is 524-8697. Relieved Mom

Hilary Roberts has tutored my son, Aaron, in his college application essays. She had a good sense of the amount of help my son wanted, and addressed his needs well. This helped him (and us parents) tremendously in this very high pressured situation. Aaron is now in his first choice college, and wishes to thank Hilary for her wonderful assistance. Her email address is: worddoc101 [at] . Sincerely, Paul

Since it's getting to be that time when the Seniors need to write the application letters for the UC's, private colleges, etc., I'd like to recommend the person we used to help our daughter write hers. Hilary Roberts was able to help my very burned-out-on-school senior meet her deadlines and make a couple of rough drafts in a timely manner. Hilary was persistent when my child would have liked to have avoided the entire subject, but she persisted in a professional manner, so it worked. I appreciated that she brainstormed without writing or dictating the letter so the final product was definitely a true sample of my daughter's thinking, grammar and syntax. I recall the fees we paid to be reasonable and the relationship professional and leading to good feelings of accomplishment. I would absolutely recommend Hilary Roberts as our daughter was accepted at most of the schools to which she applied and had many good choices and I do attribute that to the synergy of the work they did together. Before engaging with Hilary I had concern that the essays wouldn't get written. Her email address is: worddoc101 [at] Jill

I'd like to recommend a tutor who helps teens write application essays for colleges & universities, scholarships and other academic programs. Monica helped my daughter write a successful essay that reflected her personal experience and voice while ensuring the application requirements were met. She has excellent rapport with teens.

Monica has over 10 years teaching and tutoring experience, including work at the UC Berkeley Student Learning Center and Summer Bridge Programs, UC Berkeley's Early Academic Outreach Program and Pre-College Academy, and UC San Diego's OASIS Writing Program. She specializes in helping students in every step of the process, from brainstorming topics to polishing and editing final drafts.

I highly recommend Monica's services and I feel she's well worth the $50/hour rate. Monica Ng Muller can be reached at monica1201 [at] or 510-282-3273. Deb

best essay writing coaching

the essay coaches

We help you find your story so you can find your college.

best essay writing coaching

Adrienne Wichard-Edds is a writer and editor specializing in education and parenting. Her work regularly appears in The Washington Post , The Hollywood Reporter , Billboard , Arlington Magazine, Washingtonian and Your Teen Magazine . Her experience working with teens—as a college advisor, standardized test prep instructor and creative writing teacher—spans 25 years. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia.

Ami Foster is an award-winning creative writer with more than two decades of experience working with college-bound kids. A former director of Ivy West Educational Services (now Compass Education Group), Ami helped develop and implement standardized test prep materials used by thousands of students. Ami is a veteran advocate for equity and inclusion in education. She is a graduate of University of California at Berkeley.


Our essay writing workshops and individual coaching methods enable students to find their voices and take control of the college application process.

Colleges want to learn more about students than just what their transcript and test scores reflect—that’s where the personal statement and supplemental essays come in. These are golden opportunities for kids to show colleges who they are, how they got there and where they’re headed. The process should be as revealing to the writer as the final product is to an admissions officer, and a well-written essay can be a tipping point for getting in. We help take the stress and uncertainty out of the essay writing process and empower students to confidently put their best story forward.

best essay writing coaching

how we work (and why it works)

We start by listening.  So many kids arrive at the college application process having little experience telling their most significant personal stories in writing—a task that can seem both daunting and overwhelming. To help students identify their story, gain confidence and find their voice, we begin with an in-depth brainstorming session that explores their ideas, experiences and goals for college and for life. We don’t shy away from asking the deeper questions that can lead to meaningful insights and transformative essays. 

We meet each student at their level to develop a reasonable timeline and an efficient strategy for approaching the personal statement and supplemental essays. This work can occur both in-person and remotely, allowing us the flexibility to work not only with varying schedules but also with a range of learning styles and skill levels. As a result, students become better writers and communicators —skills that will serve them far beyond the college application process.

And as with all the best coaches, we guide and encourage students from the sidelines but never get on the field to play for them. In other words, students’ essays are always in their own words and authentic voices.


“You did an amazing job understanding not only what I was trying to convey in my essay, but who I was as a person. You were able to extrapolate things from what I wrote that even I didn’t consider, and your suggestions were never intrusive.”

– Jackson C.

“You really helped me home in on and expand the most important and impactful parts of my essay while leaving out the parts that didn't add to the impression I wanted to give.”

“My son has learned more from you about the writing process than from any of his classwork.”

– mom of a high school senior

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