How to Get Started on the College Essay

We hope you and your family are healthy and staying safe. As we move into application season for the Class of 2021, there are a lot of uncertainties; life right now can seem quite unsettling. Because it is.

College essays can seem overwhelming, too, but they don’t have to be. And neither do family discussions about essays.

Has a simple conversation in your house ever been ruined by a seemingly innocent suggestion?

That harmless conversation could start something like this…

Parent, relaxed, smiling and with a super sweet tone:

I was thinking, it would be so great if you wrote a college essay about how your great-grandpa invented the frozen custard machine. He was a real trendsetter in his day. You could talk about what an example he’s been to you and how that influenced you on student council.

Child, looking down, sighing:

Really??! Just please leave me alone!! 

Child leaves without another word. Bedroom door slams.

Parent, clueless, wonders, What was that? 

No matter what’s going on in the world around us, this sort of thing happens. Parents think we know what’s in our kids’ heads, but we don’t. We think we’re helping; our children find us annoying.

We don’t want you to go through this type of scenario when college essays come up. It’s too stressful. And there’s enough stuff going on right now to distract, bore and annoy even the most dedicated, brilliant student.

The college essay can be daunting on its own. Why? Because it matters. A lot.

My business partner Susan and I have been in the college admissions business for more than a decade. We have written three books – go-to guides for parents, students and counselors. We stay current on the college essay and industry trends by speaking at conferences and staying in touch with admissions officers.

We’ve always been a virtual company, working remotely with students all over the world. The Wow Method is the most effective process out there because we’ve spent 10 years perfecting it. We challenge ourselves every day. We hire the best coaches. We ask questions and dig deep.

Our process is our magic. 

We know the word “process” isn’t particularly sexy. But sexy or not, it works – year after year, with every type of student in every type of situation.

We have a small team, and during college admission season, we work with a select number of students from all over the world using an online system we developed nearly a decade ago. Our writing coaches use our online communication tools to streamline the process and make it easy for students to succeed.

The rest of the year we train independent educational consultants, counselors and other professionals who are on the ground, working with students every day.

We provide an environment that is designed for success. One that is calm. Nurturing. Quiet.

What’s our secret? We are teachers and writers who understand this industry inside and out. We talk to admissions officers all the time. We know what they want, and we know how to deliver it. We are process-driven. Our mantra: Process. Plan. Schedule.

Stick with us, and we’ll help take some of the pressure off, no matter what’s going on in the world. That’s because we teach students how to write strong, effective essays, with less stress and greater confidence.

Picture of Kim Lifton

Kim Lifton

Kim Lifton is President of Wow Writing Workshop. Perceptive, resourceful and curious, Kim can get a story out of anyone. Kim is a former newspaper reporter and corporate communications manager. With Susan Knoppow, Wow’s CEO, Kim developed the Wow Method by combining her journalistic training with Susan’s organization and instructional design skills. She holds a BA in Journalism from Michigan State University. 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 and Susan have co-authored three books – How to Write an Effective College Application Essay (The Inside Scoop for Parents, Students, Counselors). They are members/affiliates of the Michigan Association of College Admission Counseling (MACAC), the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA).
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