Author: Susan Knoppow

We Wrote the Only College Application Guide You’ll Ever Need!

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

At the end of every school year, moms and dads call us in a panic, asking for help understanding college application essays. They tell us they are worried about the competition to get into college – and the amount of work required for their children to stand out and get noticed inside the admissions office.

We will never suggest you write a college application essay for your child, or edit an essay so heavily it loses your child’s personality and voice. But we believe you can play a critical role in the preparation process. Who else would go to the moon and back for your child?

For more specific tips, check out our popular book, How to Write an Effective College Application Essay – The Inside Scoop for Parents; it was just released in paperback ($9.99). The book takes less than an hour to read and provides everything you need to help your child write meaningful college application essays that admissions officers will want to read.

Parents have called the book engaging, informative and a must-read for any parent with a child applying to college. Here are a few reviews:

Debbie Logan, from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, read the book before her second daughter applied to college. (She now attends Columbia University.) Logan said the book helped her keep a healthy distance from her second daughter’s application, particularly the essay. “This book gave me insight into the parent’s role in the process. I had no idea what colleges were looking for or where my job ended. The insight is priceless.”

Rebecca Gold, from Providence, Rhode Island, was about to start working with her third child on the college application journey when she read the guide. She said it was easy to follow, well-written and more helpful than any other college-related book for parents. “Rather than telling me what to do, the authors helped me understand what my son needed to be successful in this essay writing process, and what I could do to support him.”

Mark Cornillie, from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, thought his background in public relations and journalism would be valuable when his sons applied to college. The book gave him a reality check. “I thought I had some wonderful ideas about the essays my son should write and how he should write them. This book convinced me to step back, and empowered my son to remind me whenever my conviction faltered. The essay he submitted was wholly his own, and not only did he achieve admission to his top-choice school, but his essay was among a handful referenced in a letter by the Dean of Admissions to incoming students. I doubt my envisioned ‘perfect’ essay would have achieved that.”

Our Go-to Guide Parses all 7 Common Application Prompts

How to Write an Effective College Application Essay includes a complete list of the new Common App prompts; we’ve even parsed all 7 prompts to make your job easier. You’ll find chapters with useful resources, information on our unique approach to writing the essay, and additional access to writing exercises we use with our own students.

The essay is the most daunting part of the college application process for many students; you won’t want your child to wait till the last minute to start. Start now. Parents who read our book and follow our advice are always surprised by how straightforward it is. Many are also surprised by how wrong they were about their role in the process.

When students learn how to reflect before they start writing, they write more meaningful college essays. With our book as your guide, you can help your child approach the college application essay calmly and confidently, and get a better shot at admission to their dream school.

Get your copy of How To Write An Effective College Application Essay now. It’s just $9.99.

What You Need to Know About the New Common App Essay Prompts

By Susan Knoppow CommonApp_logo
CEO
Wow Writing Workshop

Have you seen the two new essay prompts on the Common Application? Every few years, the Common App, a tool used by more than 700 colleges to help students apply seamlessly to multiple schools, updates its essay prompts. The changes are based on feedback from students, parents, high school counselors, educational consultants and member schools following each admissions cycle. This year, the Common App added two new prompts; they also tweaked some of the current questions.
What does it all mean for high school juniors who are about to start the journey to college? Nothing, really. The task is the same. The revisions to prompts 2, 3 and 5 clarify the purpose of those questions, while the new prompts provide a few more options.

Reflection Matters Most

Just released in paperback

The changes reinforce the message we share with our students and in our popular book, How to Write an Effective College Application Essay, which was just released in paperback. At its core, a personal statement is all about reflection. An effective essay shows insight into a student’s character because it answers two central questions: 1) What happened? and 2) Why does it matter?

Why a topic matters to a student (the reflection) is more important than what happened (the experience, the activity, the idea, the concept, or the person who influenced that student).
Here are 4 simple steps to help you understand any Common App prompt so you can choose a meaningful topic that demonstrates both what happened and why it matters.

  1. Review the instructions
    Most students skip straight to the prompts and miss the important information built into the instructions. Make sure you read this first: “The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response.”
  2. Ask one more question
    Before choosing a prompt or exploring topics, ask yourself: What do I want colleges to know about me that they wouldn’t otherwise know from the rest of my application? Think about traits and characteristics, not accomplishments.
  3. Review the prompts
    Look closely at the seven prompts once you know which characteristic(s) you want to share. (We’ve tackled #6 and #7 below.) Do not dive into topic ideas until you’ve confirmed that you understand the 7 options.
  4. Brainstorm ideas
    The goal is to find a topic that best illustrates the trait or traits you want to share, and which also responds directly to the prompt. If you choose a story but can’t explain why it makes a strong Common App topic, or how it demonstrates something meaningful about you, you’re not ready to write a draft.

The New Prompts: What Are They All About?
Just to confirm that we understood the purpose of the changes, we went straight to the source – Scott Anderson, Senior Director of Education and Partnerships for the Common Application. He said:

Scott Anderson – The Common App

The prompts have changed slightly, but the instructions remain the same: What do you want application readers to know about you? The prompts simply serve to help students approach that question from as many angles as possible, whether it be maturity, identity, curiosity, pastimes, aspirations, community, relationships, or anything else. Students should pick the prompt that supports and gets them excited about the story they want to tell about themselves.

Here’s our take on Prompts #6 and #7, which have generated the most questions from our students and industry colleagues:

Prompt 6: Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

The key word in this prompt is “engaging,” but even that word can seem overwhelming. Remind yourself that the essay is not about the topic, idea or concept; it’s about the applicant. You don’t have to impress with big ideas. Try asking yourself questions like these: Why is this topic, idea or concept so engaging? How does it make me feel? Who do I talk to about these ideas? Where do I go to research new concepts? What have I learned about myself?

Maybe you care about social justice. Perhaps you’re captivated by humor or technology. You can explore the concept overall or share an example of that concept in action. Whether you collected clothes and toiletries for a local family who lost their home in a fire or attracted ten thousand followers by tweeting a daily joke, why did you do it? How does that activity demonstrate how you think, problem-solve or process information? What did you learn about yourself? How did the idea affect or change you? If you want to focus on the big picture, make sure you know how you want to approach the concept before starting to write a first draft.

Prompt 7: Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

The key word in this prompt is “choice.” While #7 appears to be different from the other prompts, the purpose is the same. Yes, applicants can submit any essay they want in that 650-word space, but as the overall instructions clearly state, even an A+ paper must still illustrate something meaningful about the student.

Suppose you want to submit a critical analysis you wrote for Honors English about a character in Jayne Eyre. Could it work? Maybe. Ask yourself what the essay demonstrates about you. Do you yearn for more than what traditional society allows, like Jane? Does the paper demonstrate how the book propelled you toward political activism? Does it show how the book changed you? After admissions officers read the paper, will they learn something new about you? If not, it won’t work as a college essay, no matter how well-written.

Both new prompts do exactly what the old ones did – maybe better.

Parents, find out how you can help your child respond to any prompt in our next monthly Parent Chat. It’s June 6, and it’s free. If you cannot make it, sign up anyway, and we’ll send you a recording.

Counselors and other professionals, find out TOMORROW how you can help your students respond to any prompt in our monthly pro-chat. It’s a free 30-minute session just for you, too. Join us live or listen to the recording.

College Essay Tips from the Admissions Office

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

We talk to admissions officers all the time at large, small, public, and private colleges. Just in the last few months, we’ve checked in with Michigan, Barnard, Indiana, Northwestern, Cornell, Michigan State, Columbia and UC-Berkeley.  Their advice is worth listening to.

Time and again, these and other admissions officers (who can decide a student’s fate) tell us exactly what they want in the essays.  No matter the type of college essay or whether it’s 50 or 650 words, they want to read meaningful narratives that:

  • Answer the prompt
  • Are written by the student
  • Demonstrate insight into who the student is beyond grades, scores and accomplishments

At its core, a college essay is all about reflection. At Wow, we offer many services (including free ones!) to help parents and other adults teach reflection. Meanwhile, here are some of our favorite tips direct from our friends inside the admissions office:

Shawn Felton, Cornell University, Director of Undergraduate Admissions
“What are we looking for? We are creating a class. We look at numbers, grades and test scores. But there’s more to it. We are trying to put a face with all of this information.”

Christina Lopez, Barnard College, Director of Admissions
“The whole application process is one big “Match.com” process. The students are creating their ‘profile’ within their application and reflecting in the essays on who they are as scholars and people.”

Tamara Siler, Rice University, Senior Associate Director for Admission
“Students think it has to be a discussion of their most traumatic experiences. If you have a relatively peaceful existence, that is fine.”

Jan Deike, Vanderbilt University, Assistant Director of Admissions
“Sometimes students feel that because they haven’t found the cure for cancer, they have nothing to share.  Life is truly lived in the smaller moments, and that can be a powerful essay.”

Jim Cotter, Michigan State University, Director of Admissions
“The essay is value added. At a moderately selective school, it can pull a student on the cusp up. At a highly selective school, a poor statement can make the difference between being admitted or not.”

Christoph Guttentag, Duke University, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions
“By the time (the application) comes to us, many of them have gone through so many hands that the essays are sanitized. I wish I saw more of a thoughtful voice of a 17 year-old.”

Lorenzo Gamboa, Santa Clara University, Senior Associate Director of Admissions
“Students do not need to compile an entire season into an essay. Just give us one place, one time, one moment, and that will do it for you. The key is to show genuine passion, commitment and that they have what it takes to survive at the school.”

Calvin Wise, Johns Hopkins University, Director of Recruitment
“I never run into a colleague’s office and say ‘look at this 4.0 GPA.’ I will run into an office with a good essay to share; that excites me.”

 Kim Bryant, University of Michigan, Assistant Director of Admissions
“This is your interview. Let me know who you really are.”

 

Want to learn more? Join us for a free parent chat, where we’ll answer questions and share our latest tips.

Kim Lifton is President of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communications and writing services company that is a leading expert on the college application essay. Kim, a former journalist, has made it her mission to know everything about college admissions, and the essay’s role within it. She speaks with senior admissions officers from the nation’s most selective colleges almost every day. Wow works directly with students, and trains school counselors, English teachers and independent educational consultants who want to improve their essay-coaching skills. Wow also offers professional communication and writing services to businesses and nonprofits. 

Life Just Got Easier for Students Who Need Accommodations on ACT and SAT

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

Are you taking the ACT on April 8 or the SAT on May 6? If you have a disability and need extra time, a reader, or space in a separate room to take either test, you should not have any trouble getting accommodations.

Both the College Board (which administers the SAT) and ACT Inc. have increasingly faced criticism and questions from the U.S. Department of Justice for testing practices that allegedly put students with disabilities at a disadvantage compared with students without disabilities.

But at the end of 2016, high school counselors and families with 504 and IEP plans got some welcome news:  Both the ACT and the College Board loosened restrictions that critics believed made it too difficult to receive special accommodations. As a result, students with documented learning disabilities who have special education plans at school will automatically receive testing accommodations.

This move follows years of complaints by counselors and families who said the testing companies unfairly rejected requests for accommodations from students with learning challenges – even for those with school accommodations already in place.

At Wow, we guide with students of all abilities through the college essay writing process, and we are delighted by this positive news. Here are some articles and links to accurate sources that explain the news in greater depth:

Learn How to Ace the ACT & SAT Writing Tests
At Wow, we know what it takes to succeed on any writing test. Sign up for a private workshop with a Wow coach to learn how to ace the SAT or ACT writing test. We  teach students how to read and evaluate the prompts; how to organize their thoughts; and provide valuable tips for writing quickly, clearly, and effectively on either test.

Kim Lifton is President of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communications and writing services company that is a leading expert on the college application essay. Kim, a former journalist, has made it her mission to know EVERYTHING about college admissions, and the essay’s role within it. She speaks with senior admissions officers from the nation’s most selective colleges almost every day. Wow works directly with students, and trains school counselors, English teachers and independent educational consultants who want to improve their essay-coaching skills. Wow also offers professional communication and writing services to businesses and nonprofits.

 

I’m 17 and Not Hemingway! A Realistic Approach to College Essays

Susan will share Wow's approach to the college essay with PACAC secondary school counselors
CEO Susan Knoppow

High school counselors, what approach do you use to help your students craft application essays? Would you like some new time-saving techniques that can help you reach students who have difficulty with the college essay process (and make your job a little bit easier)?

 

Wow CEO Susan Knoppow will join the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling (PACAC)  next Wednesday, February 8th, to present:  “I’m 17 – and I’m Not Hemingway! A Realistic Approach to College Essays,” an online professional development workshop for Secondary School Counselors.

The workshop is for high school counselors and independent educational consultants throughout the U.S. who want  resources for students and colleagues. Pennsylvania counselors can get a ertificate of Attendance to submit for ACT 48 credit through your district/IU. (Note: counselors must be registered and logged in to the Online Workshop individually for the entire hour and a half to receive the certificate.)

Susan has 20 years experience working with students of all ages. She has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College, a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan, and has taught college and high school creative writing and composition.

In 2009, she co-founded Wow Writing Workshop and developed the Wow Method, an approach used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills.

Workshop Details:

When: Wednesday, February 8th, 11am-12:30pm EST (1.5 hours)

Cost:  FREE for PACAC Members. Non-Members: $10

**Join PACAC today ($25 individual annual membership) and attend online workshops for FREE!

Registration: Click here!

Space is limited in the seminar room.

Registration closes at 3 p.m., Tuesday, February 7th

Questions? Email pacaconlineworkshop@gmail.com

Contact us if you would like Wow to present a similar workshop for your professional group.

 

Common App Wants You to Know: Essay Prompt Changes Don’t Matter

Scott Anderson of the Common App
Scott Anderson, The Common App

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

Every few years, the Common Application, a tool used by more than 700 colleges to help students apply seamlessly to multiple schools, makes noticeable changes to its essay prompts. The changes are based on feedback from students, parents, high school counselors, educational consultants and member schools following each admissions cycle.

This year, the Common App has added two new prompts for the next group of college applicants; they also clarified some of the current questions.

What does it all mean for high school juniors who are about to start the journey to college? Nothing, really. The task is the same. The purpose is the same, too. Some of the existing prompts are more specific, and the new questions simply provide a few more options for students.

I asked Scott Anderson, the Senior Director of Education and Partnerships for the Common Application, what he would advise students so they do not overthink the changes.

“The prompts have changed slightly, but the instructions remain the same: what do you want application readers to know about you?,” Anderson told me. “The prompts simply serve to help students approach that question from as many angles as possible, whether it be maturity, identity, curiosity, pastimes, aspirations, community, relationships, or anything else.”

Anderson added, “Students should pick the prompt that supports and gets them excited about the story they want to tell about themselves.”

That’s sound advice straight from the source. You can read Anderson’s piece in the Huffington Post for more information about the changes. (He says the changes don’t matter!)

The best prompt is always the one the college applicant prefers.

No prompt is better than any other. And, despite what you may have heard or read in the past, or what you might hear in the coming months, colleges that use the Common App do not prefer any particular prompt.

At Wow, we talk to admissions officers all the time; they confirm what Anderson told us: they are more interested in what a student has to say than which prompt the student chooses.

At its core, the college essay is all about reflection. No matter what the prompt, we approach every one the same way. We tell our students an effective essay will answer these two questions:

  • What happened?
  • Why does it matter?

Why it matters to a student (the reflection) is more important than what happened (the experience, the activity, or the person who influenced that student).

Here are the 2017-2018 Common Application Essay Prompts

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. [No change]

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? [Revised]

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? [Revised]

4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. [No change]

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? [New]

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. [New]

Parents, find out how you can help your child respond to any prompt in our next monthly Parent Chat. It’s Feb, 21, and free. If you cannot make it, sign up anyway, and we’ll send you a recording.

Counselors and other professionals, our parent chats have been so popular we are offering free 30-minute sessions for you, too. Sign up here. Join us live or listen to the recording.

How Are You Going To Pay for College?

Jodi Okun

Last August, Wow’s Kim Lifton was the featured expert on #CollegeChat, a live Twitter chat hosted every Thursday night by Jodi Okun; we shared our expertise on the college and scholarship essay (the process is the same!) that evening. We asked  Jodi to share her best tips about paying for college in this guest blog. Contact Wow to learn how to write a standout scholarship essay. 

By Jodi Okun

Worried about paying for college? Confused about securing the best financial aid package? You are not alone.

Regardless of your family’s income or financial circumstances, most parents like you have one of these concerns:

  • You make too much to qualify for aid.
  • You make too little to afford college at all.

No matter what your financial situation, there are plenty of opportunities to help you and your family pay for college. Before starting the search for financial opportunities, you’ll need to understand how financial aid works, whether you’ll qualify for any – and know where to turn for help when it gets confusing.

Managing college financial aid strategies – from scholarships to work study jobs to student loans – is challenging. But it does not need to be overwhelming.

Begin the process by asking yourself these three questions:

  • How can I afford college for my child?
  • How can I navigate this complicated financial aid system?
  • And how will I make the best decisions for my family?

While no single answer is right for everyone, you’ll be able to find an answer that is right for you. I help parents navigate the process, but I cannot give you a step-by-step manual of what to do; I would need to update that manual daily. Useful information will help you move you in the right direction to secure the funding you’ll need for your child’s post-secondary education.

Meanwhile, try to stay calm, and don’t let fear get the best of you. College is a lot of work, and it costs a lot of money. But most parents and students I know feel that a college degree is well worth the effort.

Jodi’s Top 6 Tips to Navigate Financial Aid Process:

Start early – Don’t wait till senior year before making financial plans. If you do, you’ll be limiting your options. The more information you acquire early, the better off you will be.

Involve your child in the process – I’ve seen parents exclude their children from the financial aid decision-making process, and then turn around and complain that their child doesn’t understand anything about money. Everyone involved should know the facts behind the decisions made; it helps them understand how to be financially responsible.

Maximize free money – Use scholarships, grants, and other awards that don’t need to be paid back.

Pay as much as you can out of pocket – This includes savings, contributions from parents and relatives, 529 savings plans, part-time jobs, and work-study programs.

Borrow with caution – Maximize federal loans first, and then use private student loans – only if necessary.

Talk about money with your child – One of the reasons why student debt is at an all-time high is that parents fail to talk about money and student loans with their children before college. Student loans can have lifelong financial consequences if they are not repaid. Make sure your child understands the amount of money borrowed and who is responsible for repayment.

Jodi Okun, founder of College Financial Aid Advisers and a former financial aid consultant at Occidental and Pitzer colleges, has helped thousands of families successfully navigate the financial aid process, no matter what their financial situation. She is the bestselling author of Secrets of a Financial Aid Pro, and is recognized by the Huffington Post and other media outlets as a top social media influencer. She blogs, speaks to industry and parent groups, and hosts weekly #CollegeCash Twitter chats that connect families with higher education professionals – and receive more than 10,000 impressions each week. To learn more about navigating financial aid for college, sign up for a free financial aid strategy session with Jodi.

 

How to Prepare for the College Application Journey

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

This time of year, every year, many moms and dads with high school juniors (and even sophomores!) start to get nervous. Seniors are either done, or at the end of the college admissions process; some have been admitted to their dream schools, while others were deferred or rejected. College talk is all the rage.

It can be overwhelming. Confusing. Distressing. But there’s no need to panic. We want you to get through this process with minimal stress inside your home.

Here’s our No. 1 tip to share with students to start preparing them for the application journey: Writing a college essay is all about reflection. Students need to learn how to reflect!

 

How to Teach Reflection

Despite what you might believe, writing is not the most challenging part of the essay. The tough part comes at the beginning, when we ask our students what matters to them and why. You can help your son or daughter explore how they exhibit their most significant traits or characteristics. That’s the first step toward reflection.

We know that most high school students spend a lot of time thinking and talking about friends, moving out of the house, figuring out life, choosing a career and deciding which college to attend. If you teach your child how to reflect before the next admission cycle starts in late spring, you will all be better prepared for the last phase of this journey to college. Find out what’s important to them and why.

The good news: You are more than ready for this challenge.

At Wow, when we help our students reflect and focus up front, the rest of the process moves much more smoothly. Too many students start in the wrong place. They come to us full of ideas about topics, with little consideration of the essay’s purpose.

All too often, students look for activities that might lead to stories, and they waste a lot of time talking about their experiences and their accomplishments. When they do this, they do not answer the prompt, which, no matter how it’s worded, is really asking students to show some insight into those experiences or accomplishments. That’s reflection.

Encourage your child to start at the beginning of the process – a conversation with you. You know what’s amazing about your child; help your child figure this out, too.

Make a list

  • What makes your child so wonderful?
  • What do you love about this person you’ve raised?
  • Is your son kind? Resourceful? Compassionate?
  • Is your daughter industrious? Funny? Patient?

Think about qualities and characteristics, not accomplishments.

What are you waiting for?

Find a time to sit down with your son or daughter, then share and listen with an open mind and heart. This is a journey into self-discovery to teach your future college student how to be introspective and find meaning in life experiences.

This is a key conversation to help your child answer the one question that can really help hit that essay out of the ballpark: What do you want to share with colleges that they don’t already know about you, beyond grades, test scores and extracurricular activities?

Once your child can answer this question with a specific trait or characteristic, he or she will be able to find a meaningful story that illustrates that trait and also answers the prompt.

If you can get your child to this point, your son or daughter will be ready to continue the process of discovery – and will be prepared to write those essays this spring or summer.

5 Tips to Trim Your College Essay

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

Recently, I reviewed a student’s personal statement for Michigan State University, which requires that each student submit a short essay of up to 400 words from a list of designated topics.

The draft, which he assumed was ready for a final edit, was 751 words – 351 words more than the school wanted. He didn’t think he could shorten it.

Nonsense, I told him. We read and suggest cuts to our students’ essays every day, and we’ve never seen a personal statement or supplemental essay weakened by the editing process.

While some admissions insiders say limits are strictly enforced, others suggest a few words too many will not matter. No matter what, it’s not worth the risk. Just answer the question within the specified word count, and you will not need to worry.

Here are five simple tips for trimming personal statements and supplemental essays without destroying their content:

  1. Circle or highlight all adverbs. Take them out. These include “very” and many “ly” words, such as really, extremely, completely and absolutely.
  2. Look for a single word or short phrase followed by a comma. These include because of this, in fact, first, last, hopefully, to be frank, quite frankly and in conclusion. Highlight the words or phrases, then read the sentences without them. Take out the ones that do not enhance your story.
  3. Delete helping verbs. Example: Replace “is going to be attending” with “will attend.”
  4. Delete to be verbs. Rather than saying “I am a voracious reader,” try “I read voraciously.”
  5. Turn some nouns into verbs: “I concluded” is better than “I came to the conclusion.”

After you trim that essay, there’s one more thing to do before clicking send: review it! Would you like a professional review to make sure it is really ready to submit to college?

Wow’s trained writing coaches pay attention to factors that admissions officers tell us matter to them, like reflection, theme and flow. We know how to help untangle that messy essay. We also make sure all the “I”s are dotted and “t”s are crossed.