Essay Writing Season is Here

The essay is your opportunity to tell colleges something about yourself that they might not learn from the rest of your application. It should be well-written, tell a story, and reveal something meaningful about you. Joseph “JT” Duck, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Tufts University, said he reads essays to answer these four questions about applicants:

  • What motivates the student?
  • What is the student thinking about?
  • How does the student play with others?
  • How does the student solve a problem?

Rick Clark, the Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Georgia Tech, also shared some insightful information about applying our understanding of the word “better” to the college application process--and more specifically, to the essay. He said, “We are looking for students who will be deeply missed when they graduate from high school. We are looking for students who are unmistakably and unabashedly committed to better .” Read his recent blog post.  
Many students find this process to be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Read below for some helpful essay writing tips and strategies to get you started. If you take your time and are thoughtful about the process, you may just find that you enjoy writing your essays!

Emory University provides some examples of essays they loved and why here. Also, Johns Hopkins offers a sampling of “Essays That Worked” for each incoming class.

Summer is a great time to immerse yourself in a great book. Below are some of our favorites reads.
Inspiration for Writing
As you prepare to write your personal statements and other essays - keep in mind you can find inspiration anywhere!

Advice on Putting Together your Application from Yale 

Scroll down and watch a series of short videos prepared by Yale University Admissions. 

Why College, Why Academic Interest Essay? 

Many admissions professionals say that they read the
"Why school?" essay first. They want to see if you as an applicant truly know why you want to attend the school other than its excellent reputation, outstanding location, or world-renowned faculty. So how do you do this?

The Covid 19 Questions

The CommonApp has added a new, optional question to provide students with a space to describe the impact of Covid 19 on their lives. A recent collective statement from 315 colleges suggests that colleges want students to focus on self care and helping others. This can help shed some light on how to address this question. We will be attending an IECA conference in July and hope to gain better insight on how to approach this question. Stay tuned.   

Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.
Do you wish to share anything on this topic? Y/N
Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.

The question will be optional and will appear in the Additional Information section of the application.The response length will be limited to 250 words.


Good luck as you work on your essays and applications. Remember we are here to help you.


Take a deep breath and get ready for a challenging, but hopefully exciting year. We are available to help you develop your summer plans, college list and plans for the coming year.

Sophomores and Freshmen:  

Enjoy the rest of summer and the beginning of a new school year. We are ready to help you find your unique angle for success.

Follow the journeys of eleven students as they navigate the college application process and search for the right fit schools. Getting into their heads as they make decisions about which extracurricular activities to pursue, which schools to apply to, and which topics to choose for their essays will help you think about your own process in a more strategic way. Order Here .
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