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  • Writer's pictureKate Pedigo, M.Ed., NCC

College Application Essays and When to Consider an Essay Coach

student working on college essay on computer

The college admission process has become increasingly uncertain and overwhelming in recent years, and it can be difficult to determine which college planning services are worthwhile investments. Essay coaching services may be worth considering for some families.

What essays will I have to write for college applications?

High school seniors typically write at least one main personal statement essay that is distributed to multiple colleges when completing the Common App or similar application platforms. Most students also write additional supplemental essays for individual colleges. Students applying for institutional scholarships or for admission to special programs like honors or living/learning communities might have even more essays.

How do I find out my essay prompts?

Personal statement essay prompts are generally available well in advance. For example, the Common App typically posts their essay prompts in February.

Supplemental essays are a little trickier. Some colleges will post their prompts for the upcoming season on their websites by early summer. For most colleges however, students can review essay prompts on August 1st, when the Common App refreshes for the season. Side note: Each year, there are a small number of colleges that don't make their essay prompts available until Sept 1st.

When should I start working on my essay(s)?

Many students like to begin working on essays, especially the main personal statement, during the summer after junior year when they have fewer obligations and more time to focus.

For supplemental essays, some students like to pace themselves and work on Early Action/Early Decision supplemental essay prompts in the summer/early fall, and work on Regular Decision supplemental essays in Nov/Dec.

Is hiring an essay coach a worthwhile investment?

Each student is unique and may/may not benefit from essay coaching for different reasons.

Here are some common reasons students may prefer not to work with an essay coach:

  • High level of confidence in their topic(s), content, writing skills, and the important components of college application essays

  • Anxiety about sharing thoughts or unfinished work with another person

  • Desire to manage the essay process without guidance

  • Interest in prioritizing time/money for other college planning services

  • Robust essay services provided by the high school

Here are some common reasons students choose to work with an essay coach:

  • Guidance with brainstorming essay topics and content

  • Coaching on the development of introspective content that showcases the student's unique qualities

  • Support with supplemental essays for Reach schools

  • Assistance with accountability and time management so deadlines are met

  • Guidance on sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, etc.

  • Coaching on how to approach common supplemental essay topics, such as "why this major?" or "why this college?"

What should I look for in an college essay coach?

While needs may vary from student to student, there are some general criteria to consider. Does the essay coach:

  • Understand the nuances of college application essays (beyond being a good writer or editor)?

  • Have experience working with students with similar academic goals to yours?

  • Provide the type of service you're looking for (ex: hourly, basic editing, comprehensive)?

  • Stay informed about trends in college admission?

  • Prioritize guiding you to write your best essay in your unique voice without over-editing?

What is one important essay tip for every student and family to remember?

Students can get frustrated and confused when multiple people advise on an essay, and the result is often a disjointed and ineffective final product. Having one trusted advisor, whether or not it's a college essay coach, is ideal.

If you're interested in considering college essay coaching services:

At Growing2College, we offer comprehensive Common App and Essay Coaching Services with expert essay coaches. Request a free 20-min consultation to learn more about how we can be helpful.

Kate Pedigo, M.Ed. NCC is an Independent Educational Consultant and founder of Growing2College. Join us on social media for college planning updates, tips, and resources: Facebook   Instagram   LinkedIn    

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