A Unique Approach to
the College Application Essay

We proudly support students and professionals around the world.

Transforming the College Essay Experience

Wow provides students and educational professionals a simple, step-by-step process for writing effective college essays, so students can stand out and tell their stories. We’re transforming the college essay experience from daunting and frightening to calm and empowering.

What's Our Secret?

Process, Plan and Schedule

Our PROCESS is our magic. The Wow approach is simple, with clear instructions to help our students and professional clients succeed. Every student has a story to tell, and we empower our staff and clients to guide their students using our proven tools and decision-making guidelines. 

We help students PLAN ahead so they can calmly write essays that will enhance their applications. We model our process for professionals so they can improve their own college essay coaching practices.

Clients work one-on-one with a Wow coach, following a proven, flexible SCHEDULE. Whether guiding a student applying to multiple schools, or a professional writing an essay as part of a training program, our trademark schedules relieve stress and help clients maintain momentum.

Kim Lifton

Kim Lifton, President

Perceptive, resourceful and curious, Kim can get a story out of anyone; she helped create the brainstorming process used in the Wow Method.

Kim’s articles on the college essay appear regularly in print and on the web, and her work has been featured in a variety of newspapers, magazines and online publications. Kim is a former newspaper reporter and corporate communications manager with a BA in Journalism from Michigan State University.

Susan Knoppow, CEO

Focused, incisive and creative, Susan can turn the most daunting writing challenge into a series of simple steps; she conceptualized and developed the Wow Method for teaching writing.

A former executive speechwriter and copywriter, Susan is also a published poet and essayist. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College.

Susan and Kim are members or affiliates of the Michigan Association of College Admission Counseling (MACAC), the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA). They write and speak regularly to high school, parent and professional groups about the role of the college essay within the competitive admissions world. Before launching Wow, Susan and Kim collaborated on multiple projects, among them an award-winning PBS documentary, No Ordinary Joe: Erasing the Stigma of Mental Illness. Their books, How to Write an Effective College Application Essay (The Inside Scoop for Students and Counselors) have become go-to resources for families and counselors around the world.

Meet Our Team

Joe Kane
Senior Writing Coach

Outgoing, thoughtful and imaginative, Joe loves hearing his students’ stories and helping them reflect on their life experiences in compelling college essays. Perpetually optimistic, Joe is grateful for the things he has learned from working with Wow’s students about life in distant countries, VEX robotics competitions, cloning extinct species, and so much more!

Joe joined Wow after working as a writer-in-residence for the nationally recognized InsideOut Literary Arts. He now lives in Nashville, where he is the Program Director of The Porch’s youth programming arm, SLANT (Student Literary Artists of Nashville, TN). Joe’s poems and stories have found homes in a number of magazines, including RHINO, Elimae, theEEEL, Clapboard House Review, The Splinter Generation, Cricket Online, Psychic Meatloaf, Temenos, Right Hand Pointing, and Admit2. He holds a BA in English and an MA in Creative Writing from Central Michigan University.

David Bersell
Senior Writing Coach

Patient, curious and kind, David loves guiding students through the Wow Method so they can share who they are through writing. David lives in Jonesboro, Arkansas; he is a voracious reader and writer, and in his spare time, he consumes large amounts of pop culture.

Before joining Wow, David taught English at Leadership Prep Bedford Stuyvesant Middle Academy and creative writing with Nashville’s A Novel Idea and the University of Maine Farmington’s Longfellow Young Writer’s workshop. His stories and essays have appeared in many print and online publications, including The Rumpus, Hobart, and Carolina Quarterly. David also attended the Tin House Summer Workshop as a nonfiction scholar. He holds a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maine Farmington and an MFA in Writing from the University of New Hampshire.

Our Values


We trust our coaches to make wise decisions based on their experience as teachers and their ability to use and modify our standard processes. We trust our students to make strong editorial choices, and don’t second-guess their decisions.

Process-Driven Thinking

Whether coaching students, training professionals or managing internal operations, we develop and follow tested processes to guide our actions.

Instructional Integrity

Everything we do is instructionally sound. We develop learning objectives and make sure we can explain why something works before launching a new program or concept.


We share our expertise freely, through webinars, presentations, ebooks and weekly emails. We also donate funds to youth writing programs.


We believe that young people are interesting and that counselors do their best under often challenging circumstances. We always ask why? Why does a story appeal to a student? Why does a counselor operate in a particular way? And then we ask how? How can we support them so they feel empowered and heard?


We listen to our students and counselor clients, taking their suggestions to heart and modifying our processes and materials as appropriate to accommodate their needs.

Get the Inside Scoop

Stick with us, and we'll help take some of the pressure off, with relevant, helpful (but not too frequent!) emails.