Reshma Yaqub, College Essay Coach  


What parents and seniors are saying about working with Reshma:

Pam Laco, parent of Landon School senior (University of Pennsylvania)

I highly recommend Reshma Yaqub, a renowned essayist, who helped guide our son through the essay application process of college applications.  If your senior is struggling with their choice of essay topic, organization, or actual writing of the essay, I recommend that you get in touch with Reshma.

Our son was struggling with selecting his essay topics and starting the whole writing process. He initially resisted any help, but in the end agreed to meet with her for one hour.  After two hours, he returned home saying, "She's really good. I now know my topics for all five essays, and I set up an appointment to see her next week."

Reshma listened to him articulate his ideas for the required essays, and she helped him sort out the pertinent information he should communicate, as well as how to best organize those thoughts. He and we are very appreciative of the guidance she gave him.

Lori Rones, parent of Whitman High School senior (Cornell University)
This process is overwhelming and you made it easy.

Andra Armstrong, parent of Whitman High School senior (University of Michigan Honors Program)

When my daughter got into Michigan early - and a lot of really smart kids in her class got deferred - she said to me, “It was because of my essays, I’m sure.”

Students and parents find these essay prompts daunting. You don’t. You find them exciting. And you translated that excitement to my daughter. You got her to overcome the anxiety and to find her voice. A student gets more done in a few hours with you than they can get done in weeks on their own.

The part that takes them forever is the part that you are so magical with - which is getting them to hear their own voice. And that’s what college admissions officers are looking for - self reflection. They’re not looking for, “I saved the world,” or “I led the football team.” They’re looking for a quality of maturity and self knowledge and reflection that makes you who you are.

You’re an award winning essayist and so you know what it means to make that connection. You’re familiar with the internal steps it takes to find your voice, which is something so elusive. You know the art form, and it is an art.

College counselors are good at helping you figure out where to apply. English teachers are happy to look at your essay once it’s written. But you - you are worth the money that a parent spends on you. The sheer time you saved us was incredible.

Nicole Jundanian, parent of Landon School senior (Princeton University)

My son loves words. Whether it’s poetry, a game of Scrabble, or looking over my shoulder at a crossword puzzle. He’s able to very easily edit others’ work. But self reflection can be very challenging.

When he came back from meeting with you, he would tell me about your brainstorming sessions - how you would ferociously write down his thoughts, then help him condense them and think through them. You allowed him to talk about a lot of very difficult topics, and to feel comfortable doing it. You allowed him to explore different ideas. But you also kept him on task. He liked your pace. And he liked your enthusiasm.  

I'm very close to my son. But still, having you - not me - do this with him was very helpful. I only wish we had started the process with you sooner. I am very mindful of what I can spend. But this investment was worth it. I have other kids, so we’ll be speaking again soon.

Maureen Webster, parent of Connelly School of the Holy Child senior (Tulane University)

Thank you so much for helping our daughter to get her thoughts and feelings on paper in a clear, organized manner with a heartfelt touch. The beauty of the essay is its subtlety in conveying who she is and how she has grown. She got so much out of her sessions with you, more than just getting the essays completed. While reflecting with you, we believe she realized how much personal growth she’s had in her 18 years and that she has accomplished a lot as well, even while remaining humble. We are grateful for that. We are certain that the work you did with her had a significant impact on the quality of colleges she was accepted to.

William Kammler, St. Albans School senior (New York University)

My mind is almost like a rubber band and you helped me stretch it out to the full potential that I have. I was focused only on things in the middle - a set of experiences, memories and things I am interested in. You helped me realize that other things make good stories. And that there are interesting parts of me that I hadn’t considered.

You were able to tell me, flat out, this is good and this is not good - this material makes a good essay, and this story reveals something important about you.

The way you interviewed me to draw the information out felt very natural. Just a conversation, very free flowing in nature. Bends and shifts. Talking about one thing and stumbling across some whole unexplored area that is perfect for the essay. You created a database of my mind, a transcript of my mind. And having a list of all these important parts of my life written down like that made it so much easier to sort through and pick from, rather than trying to brainstorm by myself. And the way that you edited my work was invaluable.

You also motivated me to keep to the right schedule, and to get everything done much faster than I would have. I can’t thank you enough.

Jack Calder, Whitman High School senior (University of Chicago)

Working with you is worth the money. And it’s worth the time.

You drew out my most powerful thoughts. You discovered themes in my rambling. You know how to chip away at the foundations of an idea to create a broader picture. I came in with this giant block of marble, and you helped whittle it down to the statue.

Working with you was definitely a good experience for me. Not just a good college application experience, but also a good life experience.

Samantha Lee, Walter Johnson High School senior (Princeton University)

After working with you, I feel like I now know what good writing sounds like - and how the most subtle aspects of my life are often the most interesting parts about me. I did not go into this having the expectation that I would truly come out as a more reflective person, yet somehow you made it happen. You made me think about myself and my life more than I ever had before, and helped me realize things about myself.

When beginning the college application process, the last thing I wanted to think about was writing my essay. But you made the task so easy and calm. I was even excited about the essay I wrote, confident that it was truly in my words and of my thoughts.

My application was ten times stronger with your help. I am so thankful we found you. Please be expecting my sister in a few years.

Sandy Lynch, parent of Landon School senior (Furman University)

You have such a gift to be able to help kids articulate their thoughts. We sobbed when we read the essays. You are really talented, and I will continue to send my friends your way.

You are worth every penny and more.

Rhys Steuart, St. Andrew's Episcopal School senior (Loyola University)

I received a handwritten remark on my acceptance letter saying, "Wonderful essay!" from the Dean of Admission. Quite nice to hear.

Brooke Neal, Holton-Arms School senior (University of Denver)

I love my common app essay. It’s the best essay I’ve ever written. When I came to you, I didn’t even know what my essay topic was. Talking it out with you, telling you all about my life, that helped me and us decide what was most important. You helped me organize my ideas. And this was a safe place where I could say anything.

This is such a stressful process. There’s so much pressure. Without you, I’d have spent so many hours staring at a computer screen, so confused and lost. But with you, I got so much done in so little time. I have the best essay ever. And it’s completely in my own voice - not something that’s just trying to impress whoever’s reading it.

Jai Paton, Bullis School senior (Pitzer College)

Working with you was a very soul searching process. The essay questions are very deep, and you find out a lot about yourself. You asked me questions that were almost like stepping stones to help me go through my mind and find the answers that I already have within me. The essays I wrote with your guidance were much more personal than anything I would have come up with on my own. Instead of being formal and stiff, they were friendly and humorous, and they had my personality in them.

I have seen my friends struggling with this process. Working with you, there was no pressure.

Garrett Fellows, Landon School senior (University of Pennsylvania)

Some of the application essay questions are so out there. It’s really hard to sit there by yourself (or worse, with parents, who yes, we know, were great at English in college) and try to think through all of them, and figure out what’s the right thing to write about. It makes you feel helpless and anxious.

I first sat down in your chair with a couple of topics in mind. But you asked the right questions that got me to dive into other areas of my life and my experiences. You drew things out of me that I wouldn’t have remembered; events I hadn’t realized had had such a big impact on me; details that made a difference. I ended up with much better topics. Much more sophisticated ideas. Much better essays.

You’ll definitely be seeing my little brothers when their time comes.

Nick Barpoulis, Bullis School senior (Bucknell University)

Some of my friends have sat at home for weekends on end writing college essays, and working with you helped me avoid that. You took the stress out of the process. You loosened up my ideas. You helped me vocalize and get onto paper the words that I wanted to say, the way I wanted to say them.

During each of our sessions, I got so much more done with you than I would have on my own, or with anyone else. (It would be nice if my friends and I could do this with our parents, but the truth is, there’s just too much emotion involved.) You kept me very focused and on task. It was also a very a comfortable, cozy environment. Really nice, friendly, and professional.

Kerren Segal, BCC High School senior (Muhlenberg College)

I can not thank you enough for your help with my college application. After visiting a few colleges, I completely fell in love with Muhlenberg. I applied early decision, and today I got my acceptance letter!! Thank you so much for everything. You were a HUGE help.

Tamara Kessler, parent of Edmund Burke School senior (Dickinson College)

My daughter loved working with you. Her common app essay is amazing -- I make my friends read it and they all cry.  She was accepted early to her top choice school. I have recommended you to lots of people. Thanks again for your great help.

Sufie Ghatri, Holton-Arms School senior (James Madison University)

My common app essay is my favorite essay ever. It’s powerful, moving and impactful - which is so important in the college application process. You helped me lay out all my ideas. You helped me organize the process. You’re very hard working and sweet. I really enjoyed working with you.  

Mackenzie Beckel, Holton-Arms School senior

I had the ideas, but you helped me structure them and put them in the right order, in a way that I wouldn’t have come up with myself. The questions you asked me helped me think a lot more outside the box. My essays came out more interesting, more in depth, and more eye opening.

Leia Karam, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School senior (University of Glasgow)

You helped me pick and choose the pieces of myself that were essential for colleges to understand who I am. I don’t think that would have shown in my application if I hadn’t gone through this process with you.

You saved me so much time. If I had done this on my own I’d have spent the majority of time distracting myself from the stress by texting or going on Facebook. But working with you, we just got it done.

Isabella Blosser, National Cathedral School senior (Georgetown University)

It’s hard to open up about such personal topics for these essays, but there’s something about you that makes you so easy to talk to you. The thoughtful and insightful way that you asked me questions pushed me be to more creative, rather than linear, in my thinking. You brought out the best in me and helped me put it on paper.

Olivia Cusick, Bullis School senior (University of Alabama)

Before we started, I wasn’t sure what to write about. But you helped me think it through and narrow it down.

My friends who are doing it on their own, are so stressed out because they don’t know if they picked the right topic or if the essay sounds right. Counselors are working with so many kids, so it’s hard to get their attention. But having you focused on my essay with me helped me write something really personal about my life. I’m so happy with the essay I wrote. Thank you.

Rose Li, parent of Walter Johnson High School senior (Princeton University)

This whole college application process is so fraught with anxiety and dread – your emotional support during this trying period was amazingly therapeutic. We feel very indebted to you.

Darya Maanavi, parent National Cathedral School senior (Georgetown University)

Thank you for everything that you have done for my daughter. We couldn't have done it without you.

Amina Wurie, parent of Holton-Arms School senior (Harvard University)

Thank you for helping my daughter get into Harvard. Your work with her made a tremendous difference.

Sophie Knoll, Georgetown Visitation senior (Georgetown University)

You helped me get very organized with my essays. And you helped me focus on what was really important.

Karsyn Lawler, Holton-Arms School senior (Cornell University)

I had all these ideas, but when I came to see you, it consolidated my ideas and helped me get them on paper. You guided me through shaping my ideas and formatting them so I wasn’t lost, wondering what to write about, how to write it and whether it sounded good or not. You gave very helpful feedback. The whole process was very efficient and productive.

Sophie Hearn, Potomac School senior (Stanford University)

The brainstorming we did together was so helpful. I had an idea of the topic I wanted to write about, but I didn’t know how to get started on it. And I didn’t know which points to hit, or how specific to get. You guided me through that.

Molly Cespedes, National Cathedral School senior (The New School)

It was really helpful to talk to you about all the important moments in my life. You helped me pick out the right ones to write about. You helped me take what I was thinking and translate it onto paper.

Bella Galli, Field School senior (American University)

At first it’s not even about the writing. It’s about talking all my ideas through with you. Then picking out a subset of those ideas. And having an outline to work from made the whole process a lot less stressful. You gave me a lot of support.

Dagan Fullano, Georgetown Prep senior (University of Michigan)

It’s a lot easier to talk about a story in your life than it is to sit down and type it out. When I talked it through with you, I got out so much more detail. Then when it came down to cutting down the story, I had so much more information to work with. Instead of starting with 50 words and working up to 650, I started with a few thousand and cut my way back.

My essay tells a story about a huge part of my life, and about who I am. If you read it, it draws you in and makes you want to know more.

Felipe Mendoza, Georgetown Prep senior (University of Miami)

I had no idea what I was going to write about. You talked to me about everything that has happened in my life and you helped me find a path. You made this process so much easier. This was fantastic.

Brady Walter, Whitman High School senior (High Point University)

I had an idea that some people were discouraging me from writing about. You told me to stick to my gut, and that this was the right story for me to tell.

You look at different things in ways that I wouldn’t normally have looked at those things. If I had done this by myself, it would not have been as thorough or as thought out. You’re very helpful.

Kyle Stuart, Wootton High School senior

Talking to you felt so relaxing and comfortable. I felt like I could say anything to you. You helped me get very in depth in the first session. Then in the second session we broke everything down and outlined it. My essay turned out awesome.

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