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College Essay Writing

So standardized testing is all wrapped up and your student is looking forward to their next big shift: the college application essay. The idea of summarizing your entire self in 250 to 650 words can be daunting. What’s the best story to tell? Is the moment too big or too small?

Our college essay program offerings are meant to help students find that core narrative – the one that gets them elevated from the application pile. We start first by brainstorming the Personal Statement, covering sensory writing and the proper story arc. From there, we’ll guide your student through researching and developing the shorter supplemental essays like the fundamental “Why our College/University?” to those out-of-the-box topics like “Where in the World is Waldo?”

Our tutors are skilled in grammar and structure, using their prowess to not only Analyze students’ essays but provide Feedback with instruction on the core rules behind punctuation, transitions, and sensory writing. At the end of our program, students will leave with a folder full of drafts and polished essays for those EA, ED, or RD deadlines.

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  • COLLEGE ESSAY EXTENDED PROGRAM
  • COLLEGE ESSAY ESSENTIALS PROGRAM

 

  • The Extended Program [Personal Statement Essay + Why Us + Supplemental Essays for Five Schools]
    • 6 lesson package (16 hours total)
    • 10 hours in-class 1-on-1 instruction
    • 6 hours of tutor analysis & feedback outside of the sessions
  •  Student Deliverables
    • Polished Personal Statement
    • “Why Us” formula and sample draft
    • 5 school supplementary essay sets (this means they will do all the supplementary essays for 5 schools of student/family’s choice)
    • Organization and tracking of their 5 schools and all their supplements. Blueprint for student to complete the rest of their essays for schools not in that top 5.  
    • Access to their Top Score Essay Tracker for keeping to deadlines and adding schools beyond the top 5.

 

  • The Essentials Program [Personal Statement Essay + Why Us]
    • 3 lesson package (8 hours total)
    • 5 hours of 1-on-1 in-class instruction
    • 3 hours tutor analysis & feedback outside of the sessions.
  • Student Deliverables
    • Polished Personal Statement
    • “Why Us” formula and sample draft

Top Score Methodology & Course Structure

We start by brainstorming and strategizing using three proven activities to get student creativity flowing and lay the foundation for a unique Personal Statement. One such activity is the I Am A ______. Students fill out the sentence I Am A four times. They then have to summarize three stories/moments that explain why they fit that word. This exercise provides us with 12 unique possible essay arcs to discuss and shape. 

Multiple Personal Statement drafts are revised and provided tutor feedback throughout the Extended and Essentials Programs. Additionally, for both Extended and Essentials, we teach students how to research and draft a “Why Us?” sample draft that can be used for the school of their choice. 

All students finish both of our programs with a polished Personal Statement and a “Why Us” formula and sample draft.

Top Score Essay Tracker

With so many applications, supplemental essays, and other items to manage, the Top Score Essay Tracker will help students stay on top of their personal goals and school deadlines.

In our Extended Program, students receive access to a personalized Top Score Essay Tracker. We list and sort schools by deadline and application round and update the status of all supplemental essays. The tracker also has a separate page where students can set their draft deadlines and a page where tutors will list and provide fixes/feedback for repeat grammar errors or cliches found in all essays. Think of it as our interactive virtual college planner. Once a program is done, we’ll ensure each student fills out the essay tracker fully to continue utilizing this organizational method for all drafts and deadlines. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should my student start to work on their college application essays? 
    • The earlier students start, the less stress they have at the start of their senior year. For both our Essentials and Extended programs, we recommend that students begin working with a Top Score tutor in mid-June so that we have the Personal Statement finished PRIOR to August 1st – when the Common App goes “live” and supplement essay topics are released. The goal is to have essays set by start of the school year.
  • Can my student start the Common Application before August 1st? 
    • The main portions (such as personal information) for Common Application can be filled at any time. August 1st is when the colleges roll out their applications and supplemental essay topics. 
  • When are the essays due? 
    • We can help with supplemental essays for any application round. Early Decision (ED) & Early Action (EA) are usually due in November. Regular Decision (RD) essays are typically due in January. 
  • How much does college essay consulting cost?
    • Our College Essay Extended Program costs $2,000. Our College Essay Essentials Program costs $1,000. 

Top Score College Essay Tutors

Charlotte Gosnell is our College Essay Lead Instructor and Program Developer. Charlotte brings a depth of experience as an SAT, ACT, SSAT, ISEE, college essay, study skills, and English instructor. A Duke graduate with a certificate from the Columbia Publishing Course held at Oxford University, before joining Top Score, Charlotte worked for an independent publisher. As a daughter of an independent college counselor, she’s had a firsthand view of how to craft compelling college application essays. Charlotte is an engaging and responsive tutor who aims to help students find their narrative. In her free time, you’ll find Charlotte perusing used book stores across the Triangle and walking her mini Australian Shepherd along the Eno River.

Emily Glassford is a current doctoral candidate in History at the University of Oxford with a BA in English and European History (Magna cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Northwestern University and a Masters of Studies in British and European History (Distinction) from the University of Oxford. She has been coaching students on their college essays since 2015. In conjunction with her detail-oriented approach to reading, writing, and editing, Emily guides students through strategies that help them gain confidence and think critically throughout the college essay creation process. In her free time, you’ll find Emily watching reality television and taking care of her rescue puppy.

 

Isabella DeCarlo, a Duke graduate and licensed high school English teacher has long been passionate about helping students meet their academic and college essay goals. Isabella’s approach to college essay support focuses on centering her tutoring on making meaningful connections with her students so that she truly understands their personal stories and unique narratives. In addition to her tutoring work with Top Score, Isabella works in student affairs at the University of Maryland. This position allows her to stay connected to the day-to-day experiences of current undergraduates. In her free time, you’ll find Isabella planning her next European trip or cheering on the New York Giants.