Reshma Yaqub, College Essay Coach  
Application Essays: Brainstorming Through Editing

Your essay is 15 percent of your college application.

It’s also the only part of your application that you can massively improve in just a few hours. Your grades, your test scores, your extracurriculars - you’ve invested untold time, energy and expense into these over the past few years; and at this point, they’re unlikely to change much.

So why does this 15 percent matter so much? If your reach school rejects you, it won’t be because you’re unqualified. Your resume shows that you can handle the work. If they reject you, it’s only because there are 99 other kids with identical accomplishments competing for your spot - and admissions officers don’t have a compelling enough reason to justify picking you over them.

Your essay is that compelling reason. A beautiful, insightful, and deeply personal essay is what makes an admissions officer linger over your application. It’s what connects him to the person behind the numbers. It’s what makes him think, “Hmmm….”

Admissions officers are only human. Like all of us, they respond to connection and emotion. They’re looking for a reason to choose you. A reason to feel connected to you. A reason to believe that you’re different from everyone else floating around that “Maybe” pile.

Done right, your essay is what elevates your application from the “Maybe” pile to the “Yes” pile.

Why would I want Reshma to help my senior with college application essays?

Reshma Yaqub was named as one of the nation’s top two dozen essayists by Best American Essays. She was again selected as one of the top twelve in the nation by Best American Essays: College Edition. Her essays are required reading in many college English courses - in these collections, as well as in several other college textbooks.

Her essays appear in magazines like O, The Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone, Redbook, Runner’s World, Inc., Ladies’ Home Journal, Parents, Washingtonian, and The Washington Post Magazine. Her articles have also appeared in Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, Men’s Health, Worth, Glamour, and many others. Plus newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and the Philadelphia Inquirer. And essay collections like the bestselling Mommy Wars. She was a finalist for the National Magazine Award, the highest award in the magazine industry. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by The Washington Post.

Reshma is uniquely well-versed on what colleges are looking for in their applicants. She is an Ivy League grad (early decision, from a high school in Montgomery County). She has worked as an SAT instructor for The Princeton Review. And she's the author of Getting Inside The Ivy Gates, an unprecedented yearlong investigation into which high schools send the most kids to Harvard, Yale and Princeton - and why.

Reshma began her career as an essay columnist for The Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania.

How does this process work?

Reshma works one on one with your senior to help him craft an application essay that reflects who he really is - what's special and unique about him and his experiences.

At this age, students often have an easier time expressing themselves verbally, rather than in writing. When you tell them to just sit down and write (particularly when it's the 650 most important words they've ever written) they feel overwhelmed and get stuck. Reshma has 20 years of interviewing experience - coaxing subjects to draw out important insights and overlooked details.

She essentially interviews your senior and transcribes his thoughts. Then together, she and your student mine through the raw data, pull out the best fragments, and craft them into a well thought out essay that remains entirely in his own words and his own voice. Once the essay is written, Reshma helps him refine and edit the piece.

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