College application essays are in a class by themselves. It’s not the kind of writing students have much (if any) practice with, and they hold weight—especially in this era of test optional admissions policies. Your child must convey who they are, what they stand for, and why they’ll be a vital member of the college community to an anonymous admissions officer. And this officer will read essay after essay from other students just as eager to stand out and earn a spot in the new class.
For over a decade, we’ve helped students craft essays that illustrate their talents, experiences, achievements, and values. Sometimes they come to us with no idea how to get started. Other times, they just need a few sessions to polish a final draft. One-to-one tutoring is a fantastic fit for either situation!
Your child will meet with their tutor in-person or online for 1:1 sessions, and they’ll also communicate via Google Docs. Depending on their needs, your child may work on any of the following areas:
- Brainstorming and Choosing Topics: Your tutor knows what questions to ask to get your child thinking about their life experiences in a way that will resonate with college admissions officers. Once several ideas are on the table, your child and their tutor will have a conversation about how the ideas tie into the essay prompt.
- Writing and Revising Essays: This is where the hard work comes in! Your tutor will help your child define themes, add rich detail, maintain tone, and edit for clarity. What your tutor will not do is write your child’s essays for them! College admissions officers want to learn about your child in their own words, through their own lens.
- Writing Skills: For students who are weak or reluctant writers, tutors provide mini-lessons to improve grammar, sentence structure, and paragraph organization. Then they support them as they apply these skills.
- School Research: Some supplemental essays (see below) ask that students explain why they want to attend that school. Your tutor can guide your child through school research so that they’ll be able to capture precisely and personally what appeals to them and why it’s an ideal match.
- Final Editing: The final step of the essay writing process is a detailed edit to ensure that the essays are polished and free of grammar and punctuation errors.
Types of Admissions Essays
Your child will likely encounter a few different types of essay requirements. Here’s what to expect:
- Common Application Essay: The Common Application allows students to complete a single application that can then be submitted to any schools that are Common App members. One element of the application is an essay. As you can imagine, this essay is quite important and often the first one we focus on in tutoring! The Common App essay prompts largely remain the same from year to year. If revisions are made, the new prompts are typically released in the winter or spring, which means students can start working on this essay during the summer before their senior year.
- Coalition Application Essay: The Coalition Application is similar to the Common App, but with a much smaller membership of schools. Some colleges will accept either app.
- Supplemental Essays: Some colleges that take the Common App or Coalition App also require additional school-specific essays. These responses range from one sentence to full-length essays and help the school learn more about your child. Supplemental prompts are usually released in August or September.
- Independent Application Essays: Not all colleges are members of the Common or Coalition Apps. Some have their own application, and others belong to another group (e.g. the University of California system). These schools frequently require one or more essays as part of their applications. The prompts are generally released in August or September.
A Team Approach
At Nurturing Wisdom, you get the support of a whole team! Your tutoring director will match your child with a tutor they’ll connect with and trust. This is incredibly important for work on the college application essays, which can be highly personal. Each tutor is also supported by a coach who, if requested, can give additional feedback on your child's essays.
Amount of Tutoring
Since each student's needs depend on their writing ability, the number of essays their colleges require, and time until their deadline, we customize our tutoring recommendations for each student. That can range from two or three sessions to fifteen or more.
When to Get Started
We're happy to work with students at any point on their essays! Many students begin working on their Common Application essay the summer before their senior year, and their supplemental essays in the late summer or early fall. Give us a call to learn more!