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How To Write a College Application Essay

College applications, in general, are notorious for causing confusion, stress, and panic among both parents and students alike. The main college application essay, in particular, is oftentimes the most anxiety-inducing part of the college application process.

College application essay writing, unlike more general application questions or the SAT/ACT, is much more unique. Essay prompts can vary between schools and students. They can depend on the college or university, or even the area of study the student wants to pursue.

Girl Studying & Taking Notes

There are also a wide array of topics your student may choose to write about. Thus, our college essay coaching is the most customized and involved of all our tutoring services.

JB Tutoring's college application essay tutors help students craft strong and unique essays for their college applications, essays that will ultimately reflect their personality, interests, and voice. The essays will demonstrate students’ aptitude for critical thinking and personal reflection, a vital component in their overall college application.

In this process, your student will not only come away with one or more essays they can submit with the applications. They will also have practiced articulating their own narrative, one they can build on in future applications to internships and jobs.

The process of writing college essays can be arduous, especially when undertaken alone and without experienced guidance. But with a tutor to coach them through it, stress can be minimized and the student can rest assured that they will come out with a polished essay.

Another benefit is that through these tutoring sessions, students get to improve their writing in a one-on-one setting. This is something that doesn’t happen often at school where classes typically have 32+ students. The experience of learning to write a personal narrative or personal statement will help your student refine their writing skills which will serve them well in college writing assignments and their future careers.

So What Do College Admission Readers Really Want To Know Anyway?

College admission readers want to see several things in your essay:

Background on who you are

  • What experiences (challenges, achievements, relationships, etc.) have shaped you and how have they shaped you? What are some key components of your personality (traits, values, lessons learned)?

Evidence that you can communicate clearly

  • Even if you’re not writing many personal narratives in your chosen field, colleges want to see that you have written communication skills. Self-awareness and the ability to write and write well is integral to success: academically, personally, and professionally.

Insight into why you will be a good fit for their school/program

  • You can show this through character traits you convey in your story. They want to see people who have passion, stick to goals, overcome challenges, etc.

College Essay Topics To Avoid | What Not to Do in Your College Essay

  • Regurgitating your academic history or lists of activities

    • Admissions committees can see your academic transcript, and many applications will ask you to list activities and extracurriculars. Your essay is a place to provide deeper insight into who you are beyond what they already see in other parts of the application. You do not want to just repeat information they can already see.

    • Suggested alternative: Dive into a specific story from one of your activities and highlight your leadership skills or how you grew/changed for the better. Describe how you struggled and ultimately triumphed in your extracurricular club. You should include a discussion of what you learned from the experience.

  • “That one time I volunteered I learned…”

    • Don’t pick something you did once or irregularly. Colleges want to know you have had passions that impacted your character and inspired you to stay involved.

    • Suggested alternative: Write about something you did often or cared enough about to spend time doing consistently.

  • Overinflate your role

    • The readers know you are a high school student. So it’s ok that you haven't run your own charity event or accomplished your big dreams yet.

    • Suggested alternative: Be honest and be real. Speak from your perspective, now. You can always talk about how you hope to expand upon your past experiences. This highlights your passions and gives them a snapshot of the real you while also showing them your eye is on the bigger picture.

What Does College Essay Tutoring Look like at JB Tutoring?

From idea brainstorming and outlining, to researching, writing, and revising: our private tutors are here to ensure that your student is comfortable with every aspect of their college admissions essays.

College essay tutoring can be adapted to your students’ needs, but some of our services include:

  • Topic Choice & Brainstorming: Simply getting started is the most challenging part for many students. This is usually because they are unsure of what they want to write about, or how to begin their essay.

JB Tutoring’s writing tutors will help your student identify a few significant experiences from their life in the past few years. These should showcase their personality traits, values, background, and talents. Some colleges allow you to choose the topic, as long as it’s appropriate, while others may preselect the topic for you.

  • Writing: Is your student not a strong or confident writer? JB Tutoring can teach helpful writing skills that students can carry with them into their college career. Whether your student needs assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure or paragraph organization: our tutors will ensure that their essay reflects proper writing mechanics and style.

  • Revising: Most of the time that we spend with your student consists of essay revisions. JB Tutoring’s tutors can help improve your student’s essay. We offer suggestions and feedback on tone, structure, opportunities for adding further detail, and more. Our revisions will help your student eliminate the unnecessary details throughout their essay and, ultimately, let the most important information shine through.

  • Research: Many universities have additional short answer questions. These may require students to provide specific details explaining why they would like to attend that particular college. JB Tutoring tutors can guide students through their research. This ensures that they compose a short essay that captures why that school resonates with them. This may include the college’s extracurricular activities, size, location, courses or degree programs, and more.

  • Final Editing: After students and tutors have crafted and extensively revised all college essays, we will do one final edit. This ensures that their essay is free of any grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors. This requires carefully reading through the essay, marking any obvious errors, and making any necessary changes before submission.

We, at JB Tutoring, are committed to equipping students with the knowledge and skills they need in order to gain admission into an outstanding university. Likewise, we are passionate about helping students become stronger communicators and critical thinkers. The college essay is students’ opportunity to provide voice to their application, insight into who they are beyond the numbers in their transcript or SAT/ACT scores. We want to help make sure your student’s voice and personality truly comes through in their essay, and in a powerful way, too. Contact us today to get started!


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