How is your essay evaluated?
Essay Coaching has developed a kind, helpful method for delivering application essay feedback. The goal is for a student to understand the feedback and make suggested changes, in order to strengthen their application essay and feel more confident in their chances for acceptance.
The technique has been developed after reading thousands of essays over 17 years, being trained to understand how to evaluate college application essays (as described in “Paper Cut“), and hearing success stories from past clients now in college and the work force.
Questions we ask ourselves before delivering one-on-one feedback:
- What did I learn about this student from reading this essay?
- Was I interested and/or impressed with what I learned? Did I learn about qualities that might help this student to enjoy, participate in and graduate college?
- Could I follow this essay, especially the timeline? Did any parts of the story confuse me?
- Was there anything mentioned that I was curious to hear more about?
- Does the essay seem as impressive as the student I read about in the questionnaire or met on a zoom?
- When I try to envision the student and his/her story, what images from the essay do I see, what phrases do I remember?
- Were there any obvious grammatical errors?
- Were there any sentences or paragraphs that were not needed or should be moved?
What are some tips for a strong application essay?
Read Essay Coaching tips on Quora, such as this answer read 10,000 times, “What can make a college application essay unique?” or this answer read 29,5000 times, “Which college essay topics make admissions officers want to roll their eyes and stop reading?”
Note on the structure of common app essays: College application essays show what you care about, and what you’ve done about it. Colleges read these essays to envision you graduating from their college. We usually recommend that an essay start with a scene that occurred one day within the last two years, to portray yourself in that important initial paragraph as a teen. The best incidents reveal something positive about a student. For example, an opening incident could be as minimal as stopping a bike ride to move a kitten to the side of the road, if you love animals enough to consider a future as a veterinarian. Write about that opening anecdote in as much sensory detail and personal insight as possible. Dialogue may help. We don’t recommend that essays be written chronologically starting with paragraph one.
The rest of the essay in paragraph two or later helps us understand why you are telling us about your opening incident. Your backstory may talk about how or why you developed an interest, your influences and experiences, and show yourself learning and growing, maybe also helping others. What are some of your challenges, and rewards? How does this incident color your current actions and future interests? Use sensory phrases that show what you saw, heard, etc. Include emotion words (“I loved that…”) to show what you felt. Try to quantify anything possible, such as dollars earned, time spent studying or on a project, age, years spent on an activity, or people in an audience.
Essays don’t need to end with a summary. Use that valuable ending paragraph to tell us something new about yourself that fits in with the theme of the essay, or to relate your interests to your activities, background or plans.
How do I sign up for the Essay Coaching feedback service?
1- To get started, write to debbie@EssayCoaching.com with any questions and to receive the JUMPSTART CONTACT FORM and JUMPSTART QUESTIONNAIRE. The JUMPSTART CONTACT FORM helps us keep track of our work together. The optional JUMPSTART QUESTIONNAIRE is a way to get a jumpstart on thinking about essay topics. Although it is optional, it is helpful for both of us. It gives Essay Coaching a chance to get to know you quickly, and a way to suggest other essay topics if needed. The questionnaire benefits you also by giving you a chance to think about your story when you’re relaxing at home. Please return these by email as a .doc or share as a google doc.
3.- Share your essay draft(s) in a google doc with firstname.lastname@example.org, and check to give Debbie editing permissions (very important!). Include the prompt(s), the college, the word limit, and your concerns. If you need suggestions for how to reduce the number of words in a polished essay, we usually can only work on that one essay during the meeting. If the essay is not over the word limit, depending on the status of the essays, we can often complete more than one essay review during the session. We review common application essays, personal statements, supplemental essays, and short answers.
4–After you complete the steps above, you will receive a 13-page handout with writing tips, essay samples, and a copy of Debbie Merion’s award-winning book, Solving the College Admissions Puzzle.
You will also receive a date when the review will be complete. All reviews will be completed within one week. You’ll receive comments and questions on your google doc, and positive, constructive feedback. You’ll have a good idea of what works in your essay and what to do to strengthen your essay.
Questions? Write to debbie@EssayCoaching.com