15 Tips to Help You Write a Stellar Essay
Essay-writing can be easier than you might think if you have a grasp of the basics and a willingness to engage with the subject matter. Here are 15 top tips for writing a stellar essay.
This is one of the most important tips you’ll ever receive. Research thoroughly, even if it means you have too many notes. It’s better to have to leave stuff out than not have enough to write about.
Make an Outline
Without a properly structured outline (with an intro, a four- to five-point body and a conclusion), your essay may be hard to write and to follow.
While you might just be writing your essay for a teacher or professor that is paid to read it, it still pays to grab their attention. A “hook” like a quote or surprising statistic in your intro can make your reader want to read on.
Lay Out Your Thesis
The intro isn’t all about flair and grabbing attention. It’s also about laying out your thesis. Make your main argument clear in the first few sentences, setting up a question to answer or statement to prove.
Avoid Passive Voice
If you want your writing to be persuasive, passive voice should be avoided. (That sentence was full of it, by the way. For example, “You should avoid passive voice” is a more convincing way to say “passive voice should be avoided.”)
Avoid First-Person Voice
If you’re writing an academic essay, you should almost certainly avoid first-person voice. In other words, avoid saying “I” or “my.” Also restrict your use of the second-person voice (e.g., don’t use “you” unless it’s necessary).
Start With Your Strongest Point
In general, it’s a good idea to start with your strongest argument in your first body paragraph. This sets the scene nicely. However, this might not be appropriate if you are structuring your essay points chronologically.
Relate All Points Back to Your Thesis
Make it clear to your reader how each point you make relates back to your thesis (i.e., the question or statement in your introduction, and probably your title too). This helps them to follow your argument.
Contextualize Without Losing Focus
Add contextualizing information for a richer presentation of your topic. For example, it’s fine (or even desirable) to discuss the historical background for certain events. Just don’t get bogged down by irrelevant details.
Use Transition Phrases
Transition phrases, such as “furthermore,” “by contrast” and “on the other hand,” can also help your reader to follow your argument. But don’t overuse them at the cost of clarity. Read your essay aloud to gauge how it flows.
Conclude With a Return to Your Thesis
A conclusion can do many things, but it’s useful to think of it as an answer to the question or statement in your intro. It’s sensible to summarize your key points, but always relate back to your thesis.
Make Your Conclusion Seem Obvious
Restating your thesis in your conclusion (after having made all of your points and arguments in the body) can be persuasive. Aim to make your conclusion feel irrefutable (at least if it’s a persuasive essay).
If your spelling is sloppy, it’s natural for your reader to assume your approach to writing the essay was too. This could harm the strength of an otherwise persuasive essay.
Grammar is also important, for the same reason. It’s usually easy to pick up on dodgy grammar if you read your essay aloud. If you’re not a native English speaker, however, you might want to ask someone who is to check your essay.
To avoid harming your persuasiveness and authority, it’s fundamentally important to use the right words. Overly obscure language can detract from the clarity of your argument, but if you feel you have to use it, then you better know what it means.
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Angela – columbia university texas, "this course was a huge lifesaver that made me excited to work on my application", raisa – uc berkeley california, p.s. attend my free masterclass and receive a special discount + bonus to the ultimate guide to craft your story, free masterclass: 3 steps to write a phenomenal college essay, i know how you feel..., your days are jam-packed with challenging classes and extracurriculars, and now you’ve gotta apply to college on top of that 🤯 you’ve got a ton of pressure to get into college and make yourself and your family proud, but honestly… you just have no idea how. 😭 you have no clue where to begin, so you procrastinate even starting. 😳 you’ve tried drafting your college essays, but every time they just sound so… bland. ☹️ you’re beginning to think that you just aren’t unique enough to get into your dream schools. 😢, your mind is swirling with questions, but you’ve got no one to answer them., 🤨 how do i avoid sounding cliché and instead stand out 🤨 do i really have to sell my pain as a “sob story” to get into college that feels icky 🤨 how do i create college essays that feel authentic instead of braggy, and sooner or later…, you become trapped in a time-wasting cycle of scrapping and rewriting poor essay drafts., the stress increases, your well-being takes a toll, and college applications live on in your mind as literal h, e, double hockey sticks. (believe me, i’ve been there.) let's face it., college essay strategy is not taught in most high schools... yet it can literally make or break an application., let’s cut the rumors & misconceptions that float in the hallways, yeah.
So you’re telling me you didn’t cure cancer or go through a seriously traumatic event? Neither did I, and I got into every school I applied to! Real talk: Your achievements and challenges do not define you. Everyone has a story to tell, no matter how big or how small. Sometimes, the most meaningful essays come from the smallest moments. You could make your whole essay about a trip to the grocery store! (And yes, someone has successfully done that.)
When you engage in deep self-reflection and use the right strategy, you can turn any story into a compelling college essay., sorry to break it to you, but while gpa can get you in the door, it won’t set you apart . there will be students with the same scores & activities as you... but no one has your story. most colleges in the u.s. use a process called “ holistic review ”. they take several factors into consideration to gain a full picture of who you are. we’re talking empirical data like gpa, scores, and achievements, but also personal qualities like leadership, intellectual vitality, and emotional intelligence. you are literally given a “personal rating” in admissions (say what) numerous schools across the u.s. (especially the more competitive ones) classify your “ character/personal qualities ” as “ very important ” or “ important ” in their admissions statistics. (trust me, i dug through tons of common data sets to prove it.) and what’s the number 1 driver of your personal rating you guessed it, college essays ., tldr: many students underestimate the importance of the personal rating, but every year it’s becoming increasingly important – especially with test-optional policies..
Let’s flip this false belief right on its head: With my 3-Step Process, you will actually SAVE at least 3 hours a week. (Wait… really??) Yup, this course is carefully designed to best utilize your time every step of the way.
Without proper strategy, you will find yourself….
- Wasting your time fumbling through tons of essay drafts you aren’t proud of.
- Feeling extremely stressed and scattered throughout the process.
- Submitting mediocre college essays that fail to convey your true potential.
You can craft a dazzling admissions essay with only 1 hour of writing a day, and I’ll show you how.
- Why Most Students Write Mediocre College Essays (And What YOU Are Going to Do Differently)
Imagine what it would be like to strategize, write, and submit phenomenal college essays for ANY prompt (with ease).
🤩 a sneak peek into your future…, 🔥 approach your essays with expert strategy – feeling stress-free and having fun along the way, 🔥 complete your applications early – with extra time to cherish your friendships before splitting off in different directions., 🔥 submit your applications with confidence – knowing you did everything in your power to create the future you desire., 🔥 strengthen your knack for storytelling, organization, and time-management – skills that will benefit you for the rest of your life., 🔥 repurpose your excellent essays – and win thousands of dollars in scholarships., i’ve helped students around the world achieve exactly this. and i can’t wait to show you how too..
^ This could be you!!
Hey there, i'm dyllen nellis, when i applied to college in 2018, i had big dreams of getting into top-ranked colleges, but i had no idea how . my parents weren’t familiar with the competitive college admissions landscape and i noticed a lack of guidance at my public high school . (anyone relate) so here's what i did... i sought out numerous articles, books, and videos to educate myself on the ins and outs of the college application process . what i learned was indispensable. and it all paid off - i was accepted into every school i applied to including stanford, usc, ucla, nyu, and more. but most importantly, i experienced an incredible journey of self-discovery . i engaged in deep self-reflection and became more grounded in my values and identity than ever before..
Here’s what I learned:
The college application process isn’t just about getting into college, it’s about using specific strategies to effectively convey your values, experiences, and potential to colleges., however… even with my success, i was still *incredibly stressed* throughout the process. i spent so much time sifting through millions of random resources to figure out the strategy to get into my top schools, that i didn’t have a comfortable amount of time to actually execute what i had learned. i’ve made the mistakes. i’ve put in the work. i’ve been through the stress. now you don’t have to. every year since, i’ve continued to research college essay strategy and i've gone on to coach thousands of students across the world ., i have taken everything i’ve learned from….
- Years of coaching THOUSANDS of successful students across the world!
- Admissions officers & top college consultants.
- Analyzing my Stanford admissions file to understand exactly what led to my acceptance.
- Writing and storytelling strategies I developed through coaching and my coursework at Stanford University.
- User feedback from previous students who took this course.
…to create the best program to support YOU through this process.
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"the ultimate guide to craft your story" is 1 of 10 projects chosen out of thousands of applicants to receive funding and mentorship from industry experts., the ultimate guide to craft your story, the program for high-achieving high schoolers and college applicants who are ready to discover their personal narrative, unlock a stronger understanding of themselves, and submit phenomenal college essays – with ease..
When you purchase this course, you also provide one to a first-generation, low-income student! You will receive a thank you email with the first name of the FGLI student you helped.
What if writing college essays was easy, "this course was like taking a bubble bath when there's a zombie apocalypse outside your door.", "the college application process was super stressful and scary, but dyllen made it easy to step back and get to the root of my problems . if you're unsure about what stories to write about, she made it easy to pinpoint the most interesting things about you , make them relevant to your character, and write wonderful essays. her course was super helpful because she identified specific things people did to make their essays impactful and impressive and made it easy to apply those methods to your own work . dyllen broke down the structure and made it a more collaborative and individualized experience, making it easier to figure out what to write about . i have friends starting the application process, and i'm recommending (aggressively pushing) this course to them.", julie – columbia university california, "through this course, i got into schools that i would never have fathomed getting into - schools with below 5% acceptance rates. it has truly been a dream come true.", "i loved how organized this entire course is and how easy it makes it for students to craft meaningful essays while also being authentic and truthful to who they are. this course allowed me to learn a lot about myself , and in turn, teach those reading my essays who i am as well.", maggie – harvard university california, "the writing tips paid off as i was able to get into a school i didn't expect to get into (usc) which increased my self-confidence.", "i loved this course i felt like my thoughts were scattered all over the place, with online advice scattered everywhere. but the ultimate guide to craft your story turned my college application process into something more than just a stressful situation. top-notch essay examples, essay structures, and space to begin creating were found all in one guidebook i am proud of the learning experience i got from all this. may positivity and inspiration forever exist", karla – university of southern california california, come on in here's a sneak peak of your path to success..
Save time & prevent stress.
- How to Work Smart, Not Hard
- Your Complete College App Game Plan
- Research-Proven Organization & Time Management Strategies
- 3 Success Stories From Real Students
Discover Your Story - Brainstorming
- The Stand-Out Qualities Colleges Look For in Students
- 4 Brainstorming Exercises
- Essay Topic FAQs: Cliché Topics, Sob Stories, Application Theme, and More!
- What If There's No Happy Ending? All Your Questions ANSWERED.
Craft Your Story - Structuring
- How to Choose Your Best Topic
- How to Define Your Essay's Theme
- The Two Main Essay Structures for Every Type of College Essay
- Every Storytelling Component For a Stand-Out Essay
- How to Create a Complete Outline For Your Essays (You can kiss writer's block goodbye!)
Write Your Story - Drafting & Revising
- Drafting Strategies to Best Optimize Your Time
- How to Start and End Your Essay
- How to Use a Metaphor to Make Your Essay Shine
- Every Mistake & Overused Phrase I've Identified From Editing THOUSANDS of Essays
- Actionable Strategies to Make Your Essay 10x Better
- How to Cut Down Words
- Common App vs UC PIQ Writing Strategy
How to Write The "Why Us" Essay
- How to Stop Sounding Like Everyone Else
- Identifying Your Aspirations & Values That Connect With the School
- How to Strategically Take Notes While Researching Colleges
- And Transform Your Notes Into the Outline of Your "Why Us" Essay
- (This is one of the trickiest essays to get right! Stop falling into clichés and learn how to STAND OUT!)
- Supplemental Essay Strategy
- How to Repurpose Your Essays Across Multiple Applications
- The Ultimate List of Common Supplemental Essay Prompts
- The Supplemental Essay Master Doc (all your prompts color-coded & organized!)
- Worksheets to Brainstorm & Outline Specific Prompts (such as the Diversity Essay, Why Major Essay, and more!)
How to Make Your Activities & Awards List POP
Your achievements are superrrrr impressive, but are you explaining them in the best way level up your achievements – just by the way you communicate them.
- The Common App vs UC App
- Do's & Don'ts
- How to Order Your Activities List
- The Complete Word Bank of Strong Verbs
- How to Maximize Your Chances of Winning Scholarships
- Which Scholarships You Should (And Shouldn't) Apply To
- Scholarship Organization Sheet
And on top of that, you're gonna get some sweet BONUSES to make the process even easier.
26 Successful Essay Examples
By real students accepted into top-ranked universities (analyzed & color-coded to break down the structure), a student-favorite.
- 8 Common App Essays
- 6 Why Us Essays
- 5 Supplemental Essays
AI-Powered Activities Description Generator
Instantly generate personalized & professional activities descriptions for both the common application and uc application, simply input information about your activity, role, and impact and watch the magic happen you'll get back 3 different versions of your activity name, position, and description – all within the strict character count 😉.
1 FREE ESSAY EDIT!
My team of essay editors at top-ranked universities will edit 1 of your essays any size under 800 words., we will add comments and suggestions to improve essay structure , sentence phrasing , clarity , cohesion , grammar , flow , and storytelling . at the bottom of the document, we will write several paragraphs detailing your overall feedback : what you did well and how you can improve, your essay will be edited within 5 days of submitting through our form, see what other students are saying....
This course was a lifesaver during college apps. It was incredibly helpful in providing examples of successful essays from students who got into a lot of the schools I applied to. Every example was analyzed line by line which made it easier for me to view my own essay objectively while writing and editing (Dyllen is also a great editor)! Another helpful thing is the list of overused phrases . Hearing from someone who has read a ton of essays tell you what won't stand out was SO HELPFUL and I definitely caught myself trying to use some of those phrases. This course is helpful no matter what step of the essay writing process you're on and helped relieve a lot of stress for me!
Dyllen!!! I just want to say you have been BY FAR the MOST helpful resource I've gotten throughout this college process . Like you, I didn't come from a family with money to pay for a college counselor, and I've spent months and months researching on my own. I was at the tail end of submitting my applications when I discovered your course and it has helped me really dig into my values to create essays that speak to me . I am 100% recommending your course to my younger sister who has a few years before she starts this process. So much love for you girl <3
How much is it worth to you to STOP spending hours frantically revising essay drafts that never had the right topic, structure, or strategy to begin with?
If your essay still doesn't feel "right" after multiple revisions, your wording is not the problem, it's your topic & structure., 😇 save time sifting through random resources online and follow a proven 3-step process . 😇 save time & money on endless essay edits and learn to build a solid foundation for your essay from the ground up . 😇 save money on college consulting call packages with this self-guided solution . and most importantly... save yourself the stress., are you ready to write phenomenal college essays – with ease, join the ultimate guide to craft your story and get instant access to....
- 3-Step Process to Craft ALL of Your College Essays
- 35+ Original Video Lessons
- Digital Workbook to Map Out Your Ideas
- 5+ Brainstorming Exercises
- 5+ College Essay Outlines
- College Organization Spreadsheet
- Common App VS UC PIQ Strategy
- Full Guide to Write The "Why Us" Essay
- How to Make Your Activities & Awards List POP
- How to WIN Scholarships
- BONUS: 26 Successful College Essay Examples (Color-Coded & Analyzed!)
- BONUS: AI-Powered Activities Description Generator
- BONUS: Get 1 of your essays edited by our team of editors for free!
Just a one-time payment of $397
When you purchase this course, you also provide one to a first-generation, low-income student you will receive a thank you email with the first name of the fli student you helped., my students have done it, and so can you.
"I got a full ride to an Ivy League!"
"with dyllen's program, i learned what to do before the writing process , how to level up the essays , and how to save crucial time by recycling essays in the best way possible there are plenty of resources on how to write essays but this program really gave me a new perspective on portraying me as a human and how to stand out as an international fgli student. i wouldn't have been able to make it without your help dyllen", vania – cornell university peru.
"I'm going to UPenn!"
"i learned how to better organize my essay response and i realized my response did not have to be one life-changing moment, but could be a series of events and life experiences that built my character ", maya – university of pennsylvania maryland.
"I never imagined I could craft the quality of essays necessary to be admitted to some of the country’s most competitive and high-ranked universities."
The ultimate guide to craft your story was invaluable in my journey to craft the best college application essays possible . like most, the college application and essay writing process initially felt daunting and intimidating. but after enrolling in the ultimate guide to craft your story and completing the workbook, i understood more about who i was and the personal values and stories i wanted to convey throughout my college application essays . the step-by-step workbook allowed me to break the process down into more manageable pieces to which i could better fine-tune the details and be less stressed . everything is methodically well-planned and detailed. dyllen also has an incredible team of editors , in particular joe dodson, whom i had the privilege to work with. he provided constructive and detailed feedback that allowed my essays to improve with each new draft. as a result, i was admitted into some of my top choices, including berkeley & ucla , and i am certain that i could not have done it without dyllen and the ultimate guide to craft your story., abraham – ucla california, 100% risk-free guarantee, when you join the ultimate guide to craft your story, you gain access to the strategy you need to craft a dazzling college essay that will make admissions officers go wow. lack of results stems from lack of support. this is a proven process that has worked for thousands of students across the world, and if you fully commit and put in the work, you will achieve the results you desire. an investment in your education is invaluable. these are skills you will use in college and beyond so as you make a decision to commit, it's important to me that you feel safe. that is why i offer a 100% money-back guarantee. if you join and find the fit isn’t right, simply request a refund within 7 days of purchase. no strings attached. *don't be the person who logs on, downloads all the worksheets, absorbs all the content, and asks for their money back, k years of hard work have been poured into this program and i value your integrity to honor the support this program provides., this course is perfect for you if..., you believe in becoming a smarter, more confident version of yourself., this isn't just a college essay course, it's a journey toward self-discovery. in order for admissions officers to recognize your personal values, you need to identify them for yourself. the course includes brainstorming & structuring exercises – you won't find anywhere else – to help you analyze your experiences, identity, and emotions . i will teach you to embrace vulnerability while practicing self-compassion ., you value a streamlined process over information overload., noise on the internet can be anxiety-provoking. there's so many random resources out there and it's hard to pick apart just the "good stuff". unlike my youtube videos, the content in this course is much richer . for every strategy i teach, i explain why you should do it, how it will impact admissions officers , and the consequences of not doing it. you will learn how to achieve each strategy with actionable steps and specific examples ..
You want to avoid writer's block at all costs.
With my college essay outlines, your essay will include all the necessary storytelling components while maintaining room for flexibility and creativity . (most successful essays follow these structures, whether they intend to or not) there will be no question as to what you're going to write next – all you'll need to do is turn your bullet-point structure into sentences and paragraphs., you believe problems should be solved with empathy., this course is designed with empathy . it includes exercises and advice to boost your motivation , support your well-being , and foster a growth mindset. stop comparing yourself to others and focus on building your best application, designed for gen z, by gen z, we learn by doing, interactive workbook to map out your own ideas., we have shorter attention spans, engaging & easy-to-digest video content., we're breaking the mental health stigma, exercises to improve mental health & spur personal growth., we thrive off positive vibes, words of encouragement to promote self-compassion & a growth mindset., proven strategy. step-by-step guide. real results., here's what will happen once you enroll..., 1. you'll enter your log in and payment information. 2. look for a confirmation email with a link to the course platform where you can immediately begin learning. 3. look for an email invitation to access your digital workbook on google docs , you will need a google account to access the digital workbook. access to the course will last for 2 years..
This course is asynchronous, meaning you have access to ALL the content for up to 2 years, and you can work at your own pace, on your own time! It is also meant to guide you through the ENTIRE essay writing process for ALL essays, so the timing may vary depending on your schedule and the number of essays you need to write. To go through the course and craft 1 essay from brainstorm to final draft, it generally takes around 3-4 weeks.
Yes! 🤩 One essay edit is included in the course starting Aug 12, 2022! For additional essay edits, visit https://nextgenadmit.com/editing for more info 🙂
Apart from this course, I offer college application consulting as a separate service! If you enroll in this course, you can get a special 40% discount to meet with me 1 on 1! For additional live meetings over Zoom, you can find more info here!
"I discovered my strengths, themes, and learned how to build connections between my experiences!"
Before using dyllen's resources, my essay ideas were scattered and i struggled to find themes. using the program, i discovered my strengths and how they connected to experiences and relationships i had . that helped me form cohesive stories that highlighted my creativity, perseverance, and successes . i realized how valuable it was to dig deep in my past, uncovering hobbies and challenges throughout my life, and thinking about how relationships shaped me, in the brainstorming exercises that dyllen provided. i also realized that tying several, what seemed like unrelated topics together was possible and helpful . i felt so relieved after using dyllen's program and talking with her over zoom calls. dyllen's prompts and structure made writing the essays so much easier, and actually fun . her instructions to use timelines helped me stay on track . overall, her program made this daunting process doable way less stressful . i am so grateful, sunny – university of california san diego california.
A BIG thank you for creating this course. It has helped me become more comfortable with sitting myself down and learning more about myself. I feel more connected and in-tune with myself now that I have completed the admissions process. The "things I feel vulnerable about" part honestly brought me to tears. It’s helping me become more comfortable with facing things that I otherwise buried deep. VERY thorough instructions and doesn't feel like work when solving the workbook. Thank you Dyllen!
This course was a huge lifesaver that made me excited to work on my application ! It has allowed me to have fun and be creative during a time that tends to be filled with stress over college applications. Every lecture you have written out was super helpful and constructive . It was worth the money . Thank you 🙂
College applications are difficult, especially when you have no one to guide you through the process and lack exposure to information. But Dyllen's course against all odds helped me to create a tangible essay draft; not just one essay, but all of my college essays . Essays that spoke my mind and soul. Essays that I would never dare to write without her help. Dyllen, I am so grateful you are helping many disadvantaged and less fortunate high school students like me in many countries. Your work is a true masterpiece.
There IS a way to complete your college apps without the excess stress .
There is a way for the college application process to be easy and fun ., there is a way to submit your essays with confidence and pride ., you have what it takes to reach your goals. the ultimate guide to craft your story is your bridge to success..
The course helped me so much throughout my college application process. It really allowed me to add structure to the process and identify what I needed to work on . The workbook was amazing at helping me organize my ideas and evaluate what I truly wanted to convey in my essays . The videos and curriculum integrated into the course really helped me tell my story and be proud of my writing. It was definitely worth it! I would recommend it!
Honestly, I absolutely LOVED IT!!! It was extremely helpful in helping me organize my college list and most definitely helped me figure out which values and qualities I wanted to highlight in my essays . It was also really colorful and aesthetically pleasing.
It was a one-stop shop , which was much easier rather than miscellaneous TikToks, Youtube videos, and books. It helped me start and give me some inspiration. It also helped me learn how to revise my own work.
Scholarships for First-Gen Low-Income Students
Let's collab, organizations & foundations: i would love to work with you to help underserved students achieve their dreams of higher education you can purchase my college essay course in bulk for a discounted price to either provide for your students or fgli students i connect with around the world. if this is of interest to you, contact me through the button below.
As a low-income and international student , I struggled with all the application and essay writing process since day one. I was not used to talking about myself through words and I didn't know if my story was impactful, nor if it was worth sharing. But being a recipient of a scholarship to enroll in this course was extremely helpful. I learned to brainstorm, choose my topics strategically, construct my ideas, analyze the impact on me and others, and create an essay that portraits my voice. Dyllen was amazing by giving free resources and creating this course. I appreciate all the time invested in this huge project and hopefully, it will continue to grow to help other students as it helped me .
ADMISSIONS DISCLAIMER Any college acceptances shown through our website are only to demonstrate what might be possible now or in the future. There can be no assurance as to any particular admissions outcome based on the use of our website. You agree that we are not responsible for your college admissions decision, the success or failure of your personal decisions, or any other result of any kind that you may have as a result of information presented to you through our website. You are solely responsible for your results. TESTIMONIALS We present testimonials and insights about other people’s experiences with our program for purposes of illustration only. The testimonials, examples, and photos used are of actual students. They are not intended to represent or guarantee that current or future students will achieve the same or similar results; rather, these testimonials represent what is possible for illustrative purposes only.
Dates: October 22 - November 12, 2023
Live synchronous sessions will meet Sundays from 12:00 - 1:30pm (EST).
Student Profile: Current 9th - 12th graders
Registration: Closed (Full)
College Application Essay Writing Workshop (FULL)
How to write an unforgettable college essay that reflects you
In this online workshop, high school students will practice and develop the skill of writing a college application essay. Students will brainstorm, draft, and revise a full-length college application essay by the conclusion of the workshop. Provided students attend all four sessions and complete the 1-2 hours of homework assigned each week, students can expect to leave the workshop with an essay that is ready or near-ready for submission. Together, we will investigate the central questions of application writing, including:
- Who am I? As a student? As a writer?
- What do I want out of my time in college?
- Which of my experiences have most shaped who I am today, and why?
- Where have I witnessed my ability to enact change in my community?
This workshop is for high school students at the beginning of their application writing process; all writers will start their essays from scratch. Our virtual classroom will function as a collaborative workshop, as well as an instructional space. Students will routinely read and analyze each other's work, as well as personal essays by published authors. Together, we will grow comfortable with: (1) the conventions of application writing, (2) vulnerably sharing our stories, and (3) a rigorous revision process involving peer review and instructor feedback. In order to create an open online writing community within the workshop, students will be asked to turn their Zoom cameras on.
Students will have the opportunity to join a generative collective of writers, to discuss their hopes and anxieties regarding the application process, and to connect firsthand with the UMass Amherst university level writing community. We will approach application writing both practically, and creatively: all students will leave with an essay they feel confident about, and will have also had the opportunity to challenge and hone their skills within the expansive personal writing genre.
Enrollment for this workshop is limited to give time for personalized attention. Questions? Email [email protected].
Workshop Format and Schedule
October 22 - November 12, 2023 | 4 Sessions
Live synchronous sessions will meet Sundays from 12:00 - 1:30pm (EST). In addition, participants should plan for 1-2 hours of asynchronous assignments per week.
Students attending the online program are expected to attend all class sessions live in real time. In order to prioritize the health and well-being of participants, eligibility is restricted to applicants residing in time zones where class hours do not extend beyond midnight. Please use a time zone converter to check when class sessions will meet in your time zone.
Instructor: Leah Barber
Leah Barber is from Chicago. She holds an MFA in creative writing (poetry) from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she teaches college writing. She received the inaugural Peggy Woods Award for Innovative Teaching from the UMass Amherst Writing Program in 2023. At UMass, she has also been a Social Justice Fellow and is currently an Instructional Innovation Fellow. Her writing has appeared in Peach Mag, Reading in Translation, Winter Tangerine Review, and Salon.
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College Essay and Personal Essay
We help every applicant, no matter their prior comfort level with writing, compose a powerful personal essay that transmits who they are in the most important ways. Everyone has a story to tell. We work with students at our labs in small-group workshops , private sessions , and also at schools and partner CBOs .
Our approach is time-tested, joyful, and effective. Students can receive Writopia Lab college essay writing instruction at our labs through a College Essay Workshop or Private Sessions. Workshops at our labs have a maximum of seven participants. College Essay Workshop programs are only available to students who are high school juniors or seniors. Personal Essay/Pre-College Essay Workshops are available for freshmen and sophomores.
Our approach to college essay helps writers reduce stress, identify the most important stories they have to tell, and engages them in the student-centered storytelling process through the sharing of a diverse range of unusual, highly celebrated college essay samples written by other Writopia writers. We use inspiring, proprietary writing exercises, and a dynamic, discussion-driven revisions process.
Rebecca Wallace-Segall, our Executive Director, has spoken on multiple panels with directors of admissions from various universities and colleges since 2009, and our approach reflects the insights she has gained through more than a decade of engaging this robust process. She, along with a team of highly-trained Writopia Lab instructors, has helped thousands of high school juniors and seniors write their college essays and supplements, many of whom have received positive comments on their acceptance letters about their essays and have even received phone calls and emails commending them on their essays from directors of admissions.
We serve students who have not yet begun the college application process, students who may already have a draft they want to polish, and students who are anywhere in-between.
Each and every word is the student's own. We allow students to find their voices and give them the confidence to use them. Throughout the process, we provide guidance on structure and editing. At Writopia Lab, we witness the power of authentic young voices every day. Students will not only have completed a college essay but will have discovered a new confidence in their own writing.
I have been working in college admissions for a really long time and have read thousands of essays. Today, I read yours and I loved it so much, I decided to stop what I was doing so that I could write to you. I laughed out loud – I loved the scene you set, your insight, your sensitivity. I have a complete and detailed mental picture of the parking lot, the neighbors, the tension. It was really fabulous. I then decided to show it to others on my staff and they all laughed in the same places, nodded in others, and handed it back saying, “Awesome.”
So, you have not only made my day, but you did so for a bunch of my colleagues as well!
I hope you enjoyed writing it as much we enjoyed reading it.
Director of Admissions (A top school)
We are thrilled to report that in recent years, our college essay students have won admittance to: Barnard College, Binghamton University, Boston University, Bucknel University , Colorado College, Harvard University, LeMoyne, Loyola, New School, New York University, Northwestern, Oberlin, Pace, Pace University, Seton Hall, Skidmore, Stanford, SUNY Albany, Swarthmore, Temple University, Tufts University, University of Chicago, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas Austin, Washington University, Yale University, and many more!
"The staff from Writopia created a personalized, genuine writing experience for our students. They patiently guided students through the anxieties surrounding college admission essays, validated students' experiences, and motivated them to turn those experiences into eloquent, personal statements. The students walked away feeling confident about the essay writing process, and so did I. I highly recommend their services!" Chano LaBoy - Director, College Bound - Chess in the Schools
"My daughter worked with Writopia for her Common App essay and it was an absolutely wonderful experience. She benefitted immensely from the individual work with her Writopia instructor who made her feel valued and confident. As a result, my daughter was able to write an essay that clearly communicated who she is both as a student and a person. Our only mistake was not starting to work with Writopia earlier." Karen - Writopia Parent
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Check out the Weekly Trimester-Long Schedule .
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Check out the Half-Day and Full-Day schedules.
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Check out the Summer Schedule .
Our instructors run private sessions at all of our labs and online via video chatting.
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Introduction to Writing College Essays
This two-week intensive course trains aspiring college counselors, advisors, and other education professionals on the purpose, role, and structure of college admissions essays. The course will explore techniques, standards, and ethics to be used when supporting students through the college essay writing process.
What you can learn.
- Learn about the purpose and role that college essays play in the admission process
- Learn strategies your students can utilize for brainstorming their college essay topics
- Understand the various types of essays such as personal statements, personal insight questions, and college-specific supplements
- Explore techniques behind providing ethical guidance and support to students in the college essay writing process
- Identify different approaches for helping students navigate and maintain their own voice throughout the writing and editing process
About this course:
Winter 2024 schedule.
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Columbia Writing Academy: Summer
July 17th–28th, 2023 Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays
As many colleges place less emphasis on standardized test scores, the admissions essay has taken a larger role in the application process. The Columbia Writing Academy is a two-week online course created and designed by Dr. Nancy Sommers to help students develop their own personal voice and style, and use those skills to craft a unique and impressive college admissions essay.
Students will explore each stage in the essay-writing process—brainstorming, drafting, revising—and will receive in-depth feedback from the teaching team throughout the process. Due to the importance of small-group workshops and 1:1 tutorials, this course is intended for students highly motivated to perfect their personal statement.
This course gave me the space, constructive feedback, and tools I needed to start, and learn how to write a powerful admissions essay." – Chanel M.
July 17th–28th, 2023
Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays 7:00 p.m.–8:15 p.m. ET
Format and Expected Workload
The Columbia Writing Academy will be a lively, stimulating two-week online course that requires six to eight hours of work each week, including reading, writing, 1:1 tutorials, and participating in three weekly Zoom workshops. Tutorials and workshops will be led by Seminar Leaders following Dr. Sommers' course design and syllabus. Sessions will be held on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, 7:00 p.m.–8:15 p.m. ET.
Student Experience and College Preparation
By the end of the two-week course, students will have written an essay that personalizes their college application, captivates readers, and shows colleges why they should accept them. Students are also encouraged to join the following online co-curricular activities, workshops, and events to further prepare themselves for the college application process:
- Finding the Right College for You
- Putting Your Best Foot Forward on a College Application
- Insider Tips for the Common App
Because the Columbia Writing Academy is offered as a course within the Online Summer program, be sure to select this session when applying. Again, due to the importance of focused time with individual students, admission is selective—the admissions committee looks for exceptional students eager to contribute original ideas and a spirit of intellectual curiosity to a community of enthusiastic learners.
Please visit the Online Summer program page for cost breakdown and further details.
Pondering the application process? Curious about commuting? Just wondering what to wear? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions to find Many Helpful Answers.
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Start Your Application
If you would like to be part of the Columbia Writing Academy, be sure to select the course when applying for the Online Summer Program.
- College Essay Writing Class (Online)
Rising 12th graders, come join our online 2023 College Essay Writing Class!
For Rising 12 th Grade Students Only
Choose 1 session:
- July 24-28, 9:00am - 12:00pm
- July 31-August 4, 9:00am - 12:00pm - FULL
- August 7-August 11, 9:00am - 12:00pm
Click here to register online and pay by credit card.
Click here to download registration form and pay by cash, check or money order.
Class Description Get a head start on your college essay – don’t stress about your college applications once school starts in the fall! In this workshop, you will learn some important tools about personal writing for an academic audience. We will examine various prompts and then delve into the writing process in order to have a solid working draft by week’s end. This is unlike most writing that you’ve done throughout high school and requires that you depict a clear personal voice. You want this essay to reflect your truest self! Come work in a small group setting with a fun and supportive teacher to discover how to do so!
About the Teacher Kyle Koehler has been teaching high school English in California for the past 11 years and taught abroad for two years. Teaching personal writing, and specifically the college essay, is one of the things he does best. His greatest passion is supporting his students and helping students embark on this academic exploration of self.
Fees, Payment and Refund Policy:
- $575 for the one-week class, which includes a $50 non-refundable registration fee.
- Credit card fee: There is a 3% fee for all credit card charges (the total fee comes to $590)
- Returned check charges: There is a $25 fee for any returned check.
- We accept payment in cash, check, money order and credit card (Visa, MC, Discover, Amex).
- Payment in full is due at the time of registration and is required in order to complete the student’s class enrollment.
- Refund Policy: There are no refunds after June 2, unless the class is cancelled by the Ed Foundation. All requests for refunds must be made in writing (mail, fax or email) no later than June 2, 2023.
Financial Assistance For students enrolled in SMMUSD’s free- and reduced-lunch program: Some scholarships are available. The fee is $100 for free lunch students and $200 for reduced-fee lunch students. Please submit a copy of your student’s free or reduced lunch eligibility notification letter with your registration. If you do not have your letter, please contact Estella Mata in SMMUSD Food Services to obtain a new copy ( [email protected] , 310-450-8338 x70228).
For students NOT in the free- or reduced-lunch program: You can still apply for a scholarship!
Click here to apply (please save this application to your computer before completing it). Your application will be reviewed by an independent scholarship committee. Please email your application, along with a cover letter and a copy of your most recent W2, to [email protected] . You will hear back within two weeks if you qualify for a scholarship.
Laptop Students will need a laptop (either personal or a Chromebook already provided by SMMUSD).
Class Size The minimum number of students in each class is 6 students; the maximum number is 10. Once a class is full, a waiting list will be kept and you will be notified if we open another class section. If the Ed Foundation does not reach the minimum number of six students for a session, we will have to cancel that session; we can then move a student to another week if there is room, or if not, families will be refunded.
Questions? Contact Rachel Faulkner at 310-396-4557 or [email protected]
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The Wow Method is built on proven tools and decision-making guidelines, with clear instructions to help our students and professional clients succeed.
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Courses from June 22, 2024 — August 18, 2024
The deadline for Early Decision is December 11.
College Essay Bootcamp
Get a strong start on your college application with this series of sessions on the common app and supplemental essays. You’ll learn what makes a stellar essay and how to incorporate key traits that will capture an admissions committee’s attention and heart. Includes two 4.5-hour in-person sessions; two first-come, first-serve, remote sessions (Zoom calls) for individualized feedback; as well as independent writing time.
The College Essay Bootcamp focuses on the common app and supplemental essays, and not on admission to Stanford. Stanford does not have a preference for students who attend Stanford-specific summer programs and this opportunity is intended to provide general guidance around the college application process.
About College Essay Bootcamp
In-person session day 1 finding your voice and telling your story: common app main essay.
The main essay is one of the most important components of the college application. A stellar essay will help a student standout from amongst a pool of competitive applicants. Writing an outstanding essay, however, can be a daunting task. In this seminar, students will learn the answer to questions such as, what are colleges looking for? What do I write about? How creative should I be?
In-Person Session Day 2 Making Every Word Count: Supplemental Essays & Activity List
In addition to the main essay, many colleges require their own school-specific prompts, also known as supplemental essays. Covering popular prompts including the “Why Us?” question and the elaboration of an extracurricular or job-related experience, this seminar will teach students how to best approach various supplemental essays and further illuminate who they are as a person and how they can contribute to a specific college.
The activity list section of the college application provides an applicant the opportunity to describe their passions, skills, and talents. In this portion of the seminar, students will learn strategies to best highlight their accomplishments and activities. Additionally, students will be equipped with the tools to create a strong resume. Although not required by every school, a good resume can aid students with teacher recommendations, college interviews, scholarship applications, and future job or internship opportunities.
It was really enjoyable and extremely helpful overall especially as someone who is applying to colleges the coming school year and is behind on essays!
How to Participate
Register for college essay bootcamp.
Registration for College Essay Bootcamp is open to confirmed students on a first-come, first-served basis.
On May 16, the first registered students (up to our capacity) will be invited to confirm their spot by paying the non-refundable $725 fee.
- Register now
About the Facilitator
Founded in 2007, Ivy Global is renowned in the educational services industry for its quality test prep materials and consulting expertise. Ivy Global has helped thousands of students achieve their educational goals and gain admission to top colleges and universities.
Grant Hansen graduated with a B.A. in Performance Theatre and Comprehensive Communications before moving to Beijing, China where he spent years working with students to develop their public speaking ability, coach them on writing and performance, and equip them for studies in the United States and Canada. He served as Foreign Teacher Liaison for two years at the number one high school in Beijing, Ren Da Fu Zhong, before spending a year at Renmin University designing courses in Advanced Public Speaking and Play Production. He engages with students so they can discover their unique stories and helps them communicate that story to others.
In addition to the two afternoon in-person sessions, students will need to spend at least a few hours on their own in order to maximize the personalized attention they’ll receive in the two remote sessions.
Stanford Summer Session provides high-achieving and ambitious students a transformative educational experience at a world-class university. By combining challenging academics with a rich array of extra-curricular programming, Stanford Summer Session successfully shares the University’s culture of innovation, academic excellence, and global responsibility.