Up-level your college essay game.

This year, I’m leading a group of counselors through a live, ten-week program on how to help their students develop awesome college applications.

Why this PROGRAM?

After completing my certificate in college counseling, I was disappointed that the college essay process wasn’t taught. And the writing workshops I’ve attended either a) didn’t go deep enough, b) didn’t focus on the personal statement enough, or c) didn’t invite me to see this for the life-changing journey process of self-discovery that I know it can be. And, of course, no other program invited counselors to write their own personal statements.

So I decided to create the program that I’d want to take.

how does it work?

The Counselor Training Program is a three-part course that equips counselors with the tools, skills, and resources they need to more confidently guide students through the personal statement and college application writing process. It is, as far as I know, the most comprehensive of its kind and unlike anything else that exists for college counselors and educational consultants.

The program is taught through a combination of pre-recorded video lessons, live sessions with me, practicum, and concludes with a three-day in-person intensive that I’m calling an “advanced retreat” with me in Los Angeles, CA.

The full Counselor Training Program will be open to 25 counselors.

Can’t make it to Los Angeles for the advanced retreat?

If the full Counselor Training Program becomes full or you are unable to attend the Advanced Retreat, which takes place April 4th - 7th in Los Angeles, you are welcome to sign up and attend Part 1 and Part 2 of the course from the comfort of your home.

Part 1:
How to Write the Personal Statement

February 1st - 28th (Live, Online)


Part 2:
How to Write the College Application+Supplemental

March 7th-28th (Live, Online)


Part 3:

April 4th-7th (In-person; Los Angeles, CA)

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Program Overview:


A 4-week online course

Learn to help your students find their deepest story, structure their essay, and craft a narrative (or montage!) that helps them stand out.

Course Opens

February 1st, at 10:00am PST

Live Session Dates:

February 7th at 10:00 am PST and 4:00 pm PST
February 14th at 10:00 am PST and 4:00 pm PST
February 21st at 10:00 am PST and 4:00 pm PST


A 4-week online course

Learn how to help your students create an amazing application, develop an overall application strategy, and write supplemental essays that stand out. You’ll also learn my favorite ways to help students save time and stress in the application and essay writing process.

Course Opens

March 1st at 10:00am PST

Live Session Dates

March 14th at 10:00 am PST and 4:00 pm PST
March 21st at 10:00 am PST and 4:00 pm PST
March 28th at 10:00 am PST and 4:00 pm PST


An immersive, three day RETREat in Los angeles, CA

April 4th- 7th

Spend three days in this facilitated immersion with me, Ethan Sawyer, special guest co-facilitator Sara Ness, and our 25-person cohort as we revise our own personal statements, develop meaningful connections, and gain a deeper understanding of why we do what we do.

Ready to join me?


College Essay Guy Counselor Training Program

A Three-Part Workshop Program

If you register by Jan 31st.

Part 1: How to Write a Personal Statement (3 Weeks, Online)

Part 2: How to Write the College Application + Supplements (3 Weeks, Online)

Part 3: A 3-Day In-Person Advanced Counselor Retreat (Los Angeles)

A $1791 Value

Payment Plans Available

Training Program
Payment Plan

Three Monthly Payments of

$432 /month
If you register by Jan 31st.

Part 1: How to Write a Personal Statement (3 Weeks, Online)

Part 2: How to Write the College Application + Supplements (3 Weeks, Online)

Part 3: A 3-Day In-Person Advanced Counselor Retreat (Los Angeles)

A $1791 Value

Payment Plans Available


We’re full for 2019!

I may run an a second session in May of 2019. If interested in getting on the wait list for that (or future) sessions, please sign up for the waitlist below!

Interested, but have a few questions first?

Program full? Can't make it to Los Angeles?

Join me for Part 1 & Part 2 from the comfort of your home.

No problem. Click the links below to register for each course separately.

Detailed Program Overview

Part 1: How to Write a Personal Statement


A step-by-step guide to helping your students find the right topic, structure their essay, and bring their personal statement to life.

Module 1 - How to Find an Essay Topic
Module 2 - How to Structure the Four Types of Essays
Module 3 - How to Revise an Essay in 5 Steps
Module 4 - How to Make Sure the Essay is Doing It's Job
Module 5 - How to Bring an Essay to Life
Bonus Modules - Advanced Screenwriting Techniques


Watch the video lessons in preparation for the live workshop sessions.

step-by-step guides

Get dozens of sample essays and step-by-step guides to helping students outline and write the personal statement.

LIVE Q&A + Practicum

Go through the practicum, ask questions, and study essays with me in the live workshop sessions.

Part 2: the College Application + Supplemental Essays

Learn how to help students write killer supplemental essays, craft an awesome activities list, and create a compelling application.


Module 1 - How Inspired Brainstorming Can Lead to an Inspired Application
Module 2- How to Create an Inspired Application in Half the Time
Module 3 - The Activities List, Additional Info, and 'Why Us?' Essay 
Module 4 - The Extracurricular Essay
Module 5 - Specific Supplemental Essays
Module 6 - Short Answers + More Specific Supplemental Essays
Module 7 - How to Make Sure an Application Is Doing Its Job
Bonus Lessons - The Rest of the College Application (7 Bonus Lessons)


We'll cover the most common supplemental essay topics required by hundreds of colleges, including those quirky essay topics required by the most highly selective colleges.


You’ll put to use all the lessons and guides to use right away through the practicum sessions, then have the chance to ask questions in the live workshop sessions.

Get practical

You'll learn to help your students develop a big picture strategy,  brainstorm essay ideas, analyze applications that worked, and get all the tools for helping them create a compelling application.



Part 3: Advanced counselor retreat

I’ll lead you through a 3-day workshop retreat in Los Angeles with a handful of other counselors where you’ll dig deep, reflect on your core counseling values, connect with other counselors and develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and our work.

More Details

A few years ago I had a dream:

How awesome would it be to get a group of counselors together--counselors who’ve spent years helping students write their personal statements--and take those counselors through a weekend immersion retreat where they get a chance to write their own personal statements?

On April 4th, we’ll come together having written our first drafts (through Parts 1 and 2 in Feb. and March) and we’ll share our stories with the group.

Then, over the course of the next three days, we'll dig deep, deep, deeper--using a combination of tools and exercises I’ve not shared publicly before--to uncover our deeper story, which we’ll have an opportunity to share at our final closing circle.

As I told Alex, who’s helping me coordinate, “It'll be dig-deep, bare your soul type-stuff. :)”

Super Bonus: I’ve convinced Sara Ness from Authentic Revolution to Co-Facilitate with me. Here is more on Sara.

Can you come?

Retreat Schedule

Thursday, April 4, 2019

You fly to Los Angeles in your own private jet (or however you want to get here--that’s on you).

You get settled.

5pm: Arrive at the venue in Pasadena. Oh and did I mention we’re doing this on a luxury private estate with a pool and hot tub? Here’s a photo in case you don’t believe me:


Yes, this is really the place we’re doing this.

Thursday, April 4 (continued)

6-8pm: We’ll check-in, get to know one another (pretty fast, actually), and Sara and I will share with you the plan for the next three days.

8pm: Dinner on your own. (Dozens of places in Pasadena just a $7 Lyft ride away.)

Friday, April 5

7-10am: Your time. What? I know! We’ve intentionally scheduled time in between sessions (which will be pretty intensive) for you to do what you need to do. So if you’re an early-riser you can spend time meditating, taking the air, exploring the gardens (because Pasadena has like actual gardens), and preparing for the day.

10am-1pm: Morning Session (with snack break in the middle)

1-3pm: Lunch on your own. Feel free to buddy up and get a bite, or take a nap, or get some writing done.

3-7pm: Evening Session (with break in the middle)

7pm: Dinner on your own. More time to explore. Maybe you have friends in LA you want to see. Or maybe you’re like, “Hey, I’ve never been to Old Town Pasadena and it’s like 9 minutes away.” Here’s your chance.

Saturday, April 6

7-10am: Breakfast on your own

10am-1pm: Morning Session

1-3pm: Lunch on your own. Time to rejuvenate, or write, or think, or take a dip in the pool.

3-7pm: Evening Session

7pm: Dinner on your own

Sunday, April 7

7-8:30am: Breakfast on your own.

9am-1pm: Story Circle (with a break about halfway through)

1-3pm: Lunch at house together (College Essay Guy pays for this one)

After 3pm: Free time.

This afternoon/evening is time set aside to process the weekend, decompress, and synthesize what we’ve experienced together. Feel free to hang out around the house, enjoy your day in LA, or visit the amazing Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens--which are walking distance from the venue. Or, if you need to fly home Sunday night, that’s okay too (we have the venue through Monday morning).


Oh, and did I mention that you can stay at the venue? The first 10 folks who sign up and let us know they’d like to reserve a spot, can stay on site. Cost for a single room is $125 per night and $75 per night for a shared room. Here’s what the rooms look like:

Single Room: $125/nt

Single Room: $125/nt

Shared room: $75/nt

Shared room: $75/nt

Once the first 10 spots fill up, if enough folks are interested in getting an AirBnB together, Alex will book one and folks can stay there at the same rates. We’ll make sure to decide this by Feb. 14 so everyone can make their plans.

And you’re of course welcome to stay on your own or with friends in Los Angeles!

This retreat is for you if…

  • You want to get to the bottom of why you really do what you do, so you can feel more inspired by your work, inspire others with your work, and have an answer to the “what do you do?” question at cocktail parties.

  • You’re interested in creating deep and meaningful connections… and would like to learn how to make those happen in more places in your work and in your life.

  • You enjoy experiences where you’re able to be seen for who you really are.

  • After spending so much of your time and energy giving to others, you want to do something just for you.

This retreat is not for you if…

  • The above does not sound appealing, or

  • You’re not interested in questioning and potentially being surprised by your own motivations.


+Do I have to complete the first two courses in order to participate in the retreat in Los Angeles?


That’s my strong preference, as it will allow you to get to know the rest of the cohort and write your first draft of your personal statement, so priority for this retreat will be given to those who are completing all three parts of the program.

Having said that, if all spots in this year’s cohort are not filled by Feb. 1st, we may open up spots to a small number of folks who would only like to attend the in-person retreat.

+What if I’ve taken Parts 1 & 2 of the course with Ethan in a previous year and I’d like to just do the live in-person retreat?


Those who have already taken Parts 1 and 2 and sign up for the Counselor Training Program can be refunded what they have previously paid for Parts 1 and 2 and only pay the remaining cost.

You’ll be asked to attend the 6 live sessions with Ethan as well as complete the live practicum sessions with the other members of your cohort, but will not be required to re-watch all the videos (unless you’d like to!). The purpose of this is to create a feeling of cohesion and community over the course of the (ha) course and complete the (newly added!) practicum.

In short, we feel the alchemy of the in-person retreat will be richest if participants have gotten to know one another a bit first, connected via the practicum, and re-familiarized themselves with the material.

+Do I have to attend the retreat in Los Angeles or can I take Parts 1 & 2 from home?

Registrants who do not want to participate in the full Counselor Training Program can register for Parts 1 and 2 separately (see above) and and skip out on the retreat (Part 3).

+Are accommodations included in the cost of the program for the in-person retreat?

Accommodations during the retreat in Los Angeles are not included in the cost of the program. There will be limited housing available at the venue ($75-$125/night) and a secondary lodging may be booked, depending on participant interest.

Attendees can also book accommodations in the Pasadena area near the CalTech campus. Contact us directly for venue address once registered if you’d like more details on venue location and recommended hotels.

+Do I really have to write a personal statement for the in-person retreat?**

Yes. But don’t worry, I (and the other members of your cohort) will help. Oh, and I’m writing one too!

+What kind of “certificate” will I receive after completing the program? Is it a certification?

No. Our courses and presenters are not accredited, licensed or evaluated by any governmental, academic or other independent body. So, in contrast to licensed or accredited educational organizations, we do not offer certifications, degrees, diplomas or transferable academic credit. The certificate we provide when you have completed a course is intended only to indicate that you have participated in the course. The certificate does not indicate that you have received any certification, licensure, qualification, skill-set or that you are fit to practice or perform any particular task or profession.

+What’s the difference between the training program and your previous courses?

There will be lots more time with me and more will be asked of participants. In particular: Parts 1 and 2 will be more rigorous, with more required hours (including the practicum with other counselors), the live in-person Advanced Retreat will ask that counselors explore their own lives to develop a better understanding of why they do this work, and the process will have an even deeper sense of continuity over the teen weeks of the program.

+How do I get the $150 off by signing up with a friend?

Easy. Once you both have signed up, send an email to help@CollegeEssayGuy.com with your names and emails and we’ll issue you a refund for $150!

+Remind me: What are the practicum sessions?

These are weekly meetings with another counselor during which you’ll have an opportunity to put into practice what we’re learning in the lessons. These are optional for those taking the courses a la carte and required for those pursuing the certificate.

+I want to participate but I may not be able to attend all the live sessions. If I miss a session, how can I get caught up?

Each session will be recorded and posted to the course the following day so you can get caught up.

+How will I be matched with another counselor for the practicum?

You can either choose your partner or we’ll pair you with someone when you sign up.

+What are the program requirements?

In order to successfully complete the Counselor Training Program, you must complete 50 hours of college essay work, including:

  • 13 hrs of video lessons of pre-recorded video content & homework
  • 9 hrs Q&A/practicum sessions with me (Ethan) via video (if unable to attend live, you may watch recording afterwards)
  • 8 hrs of one-on-one college essay meetings with either a student or in-class partner
  • 20 hrs live in-person workshop with me (Ethan) in Los Angeles

    Total: 50 Hrs.

Those who have successfully fulfilled their hours will receive a certificate following the in-person Los Angeles retreat that affirms successful completion of the program. For more information, head over to the course syllabus.

Travel Times:

If you’re flying into LA for the retreat, here is some relevant travel information:
LAX or the Burbank airport are best for flying in.
LAX to the retreat is a ~45 min drive.
Burbank Airport to the retreat is a ~25 min drive.


Educational Disclaimer: College Essay Guy LLC, its courses, and the presenters of those courses are not accredited, licensed or evaluated by any governmental, academic or other independent body. The completion of our courses does not convey any certification, diploma, degree or academic credit which will be recognized or transferable to licensed or accredited educational institutions or professional licensing bodies. Our courses should not be considered to be equivalent to or a substitute for coursework or other training offered accredited or licensed educational organizations. Completion of one or a series of our courses and any certificate or other evidence of completion we provide does not impart upon the participant any particular certification, licensure, qualification, skill-set or fitness to practice or perform any particular task or profession, and participants in our courses should not suggest anything to the contrary to third-parties.


Please email our Master of Logistics, Alex: alex@collegeessayguy.com  or fill out the form above.

register for the Course

Meet Your Guide

Ethan Sawyer is a nationally recognized college essay expert and sought-after speaker. Each year he helps thousands of students and counselors through his online courses, workshops, articles, products, and books, and works privately with a small number of students. A graduate of Northwestern University, Ethan holds an MFA from UC Irvine, two counseling certificates, is certified in Myers-Briggs and hypnotherapy. He lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife, Veronica, and their amazing daughter, Zola.

Learn more about Ethan »