How we work with our students

Each year, my team and I work with a few dozen students on their college applications. 

Students work one-on-one with of my trained college essay specialists, who collaborates closely with me to help you develop your best possible college application. 

Each week, your essays are personally reviewed by me throughout the process and I offer feedback through your coach. So, even though your drafting sessions take place with them, you basically get two experts (and perspectives) instead of one. All my coaches have at years of experience helping students with college applications and essays and they are masters at what they do: helping students craft stories that help them stand out.

(These are the folks I'd send my daughter to when she applies to college.)

Students who work with us find that our process is more fun, effective, and life-changing.  

Here's what one student shared in 2018:

"Working with the College Essay Guy team, I discovered who I am as a person, what I value, and how I specifically developed and express my values. Knowing who I am as a person was essential in genuinely presenting myself to college admissions representatives....I learned a lot about what I value as a person. I learned about my different qualities and characteristics that I have used in the past, and will continue to use in the future. I really enjoyed reflecting on specific experiences that led me to develop these value and working with the College Essay Guy team."

Here's how our process works:

DISCOVERING

You (the student) complete a few hours of pre-work that includes a college preferences questionnaire, a Myers-Briggs assessment, my six best brainstorming exercises, and a draft of your Common App Activities List and Additional Info statement.


DEVELOPING YOUR COLLEGE LIST STRATEGY 

(Optional, Additional fee)

Then, if wanting assistance on your college list, you meet with your college counselor to craft your college list, strategize Early Action or Early Decision schools, get guidance in interview preparation, strategize your teacher recommendations, and anything else you need to get on track.  Meanwhile, you'll research and finalize your college list in between sessions. Here's a look at what those three sessions might look like:

SESSION 1

  • Discuss your College Preferences Questionnaire and get resources for researching your college list

  • Review your transcripts and discuss your academic performance in context of your school's offerings and intended colleges

  • Strategize Early Action/Early Decision schools

  • Review standardized tests, if needed, including ACT/SAT, SAT-Subject tests, etc.)

  • After this session, we'll send you a customized list of colleges to begin researching

SESSION 2

  • Review your college list research

  • Discuss and review additional college options

  • Review standardized test scores and strategy (SAT Subject and SAT/ACT)

  • Finalize early and regular decision application strategy

  • Strategize teacher and counselor recommendations

  • Ensure senior year course selection is on track

  • Review strategies for demonstrating interest in colleges (when applicable)

 

SESSION 3

  • Continue to review follow-up college research and decide on a near-final list of 8-12 colleges

  • Followup discussion on test prep, summer plans, and extracurricular activities

  • Review any dips in grade performance and craft language for inclusion in Additional Information

  • Ensure teacher recommendation strategy is on track

  • Interview preparation guidance and tips

Already have your college list finalized and want help just on the essays?

No problem. We'll skip the above and start here:


Essays-Only Packages

The following packages include help on:

  • Your main personal statement (Typically the Common App statement, Coalition App, UC essays, etc.)

  • All required and optional supplemental essays (Typically 2-5 essays per school)

  • Additional Information Statement (650 word statement that provides vital context and information that does not show up elsewhere in your application)

  • Activities List (Closely connected with the essays and Additional Info section)

STRATEGIZING & SHIFTING PARADIGMS

After completing your brainstorming pre-work and finalizing your college list, you meet with one of my amazing essay specialists for an initial 90-minute strategy session to review all of your pre-work and craft your application strategy, brainstorm main essay topics, and discuss outlines for your main essays.

Here's what that session might look like: 

SESSION 1

  • Review your brainstorming activities and drafts of your Activities List, and Additional Information section

  • Review any drafts of essays you have already completed and help you determine: “Does this feel like my story? Might there be other avenues or topics to explore that better demonstrate what I’d like to communicate to college?”

  • Discover your deepest story, find your 3-4 core stories for your supplemental essays, and discuss how you might stand out among thousands of other applicants

  • Brainstorm topics for your main essays for the Common App / UC Schools / Coalition Application, etc.

  • Brainstorm topics for all of your supplemental essays

  • Discuss initial structures and outlines for your essays


Then, you'll continue to meet with your essay coach to continue the process.

Each week, I meet with your essay coach to review your essays and progress, and your coach will provide feedback in your sessions.  So you'll get the perspective of two experienced essay experts on your essays:

Here's what those sessions with your coach might look like:

SESSION 2

  • Review your first Common App and/or UC Personal Insight Question drafts

  • Brainstorm topics or review first drafts for your 10-20+ supplemental essays, including the "Why Us," extracurricular, and community service essays as well as any other school-specific essays

  • Revise your Additional Information section to provide appropriate context for your high school career, including crafting language to discuss any anomalies in your transcripts and course selection, dips in grades or extracurricular involvement, changes in personal life that may have influenced decisions in high school, or other vital information not communicated in your essays and application

SESSION 3

  • Continue to draft and revise main personal statements

  • Review drafts of supplemental essays

  • Brainstorm next set of supplemental essays

  • Revise Activities List to ensure that your extracurricular involvement and achievements are highlighted and it's clear how you've contributed to your community

  • Revise Additional Info section to ensure colleges have a complete picture of who you are,

  • Write, write, write!

 

 

DIGGING DEEPER & CRAFTING YOUR STORY

SESSION 4 and beyond (I.E. until YOU're done)

You'll continue to meet with your essay coach, according to your schedule and theirs, as many times as needed to draft and polish your essays. Most students take between 8-10 drafts on the main personal statement, with fewer drafts on the supplements, but the number of sessions depends on each student's writing abilities and (honestly) their appetite for re-drafting. 

Students that are working with us on 3 schools typically require 10-15 sessions, while students working with us on applications for 10 schools often need 15-20+ sessions with our team.

In addition, if working with our counselor, you'll stay in contact with  them throughout the process to ensure the other aspects of your application are on track.

I'll continue to meet weekly with your coach to discuss your progress and make sure you meet your goal completion deadlines.

REFINING

When you and your coach feel the essays are close to being finalized, I'll take one last look to make sure you're ready to submit and, if necessary, you'll meet with your coach for a session or two to make final tweaks. So basically you'll feel really good about what you're submitting (unless you wait 'til the last second; please don't do that).

Along the way, we'll provide you with timely resources for crafting a resume, getting awesome teacher recommendations, nailing your college interview, and securing scholarships. You can even ask us questions about the larger application process, including questions on your Early Action/Early Decision strategy, which standardized tests to submit, teacher recommendations, interview prep, and food recommendations while you're visiting Occidental College (two words: Taco Zone).

Goal Timeline

Goal completion date for Early Action/Early Decision schools is two weeks before the deadline. Goal for having all applications done is December 1st, so that all may enjoy a quiet and peaceful December as our friends work frantically to submit applications you have already completed. (You will have access to your essay coach for unlimited sessions and revisions until December 15th of your application year. If interested in extending that for an additional fee, please let us know.)

 

Ready to join us?

Great.

MEET YOUR TEAM

MEET YOUR ESSAY GURU

 
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Ethan Sawyer AKA College Essay Guy 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.  


Ethan also:

  • Graduated from Northwestern University and holds an MFA from UC Irvine.

  • Has 12+ Years experience as a teacher, curriculum writer, community organizer, voice actor, and truck driver (true story.)

  • Wrote the #1 best-selling book College Essay Essentials

  • Is a certified Myers-Briggs® specialist.

  • Has a certification in hypnotherapy

  • Completed two counseling certificate programs, including one in College Counseling at UC Irvine and another through the Interchange Counseling Institute.

MEET Your College Counselor

 
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Stacy began her career in education as an admissions officer Northeastern University and then Johns Hopkins University. She spent almost twelve years on the college side reading thousands of college applications, making admissions decisions, traveling the United States to recruit students, and more. Additionally, she has worked on the high school side as the Director of College Counseling at a private K-12 school in the Boulder-area of Colorado. Currently, she works as a independent college counselor guiding students through the college admissions process and volunteers for a few non-profit organizations to help more students gain access to college. 

Stacy also: 

  • Graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelors of Science in History and a Masters in College Student Development and Counseling.

  • Has 17+ years of college admissions experience in the college/university, secondary education, and independent college counseling arena.

  • Has read thousands of college admissions applications.

  • Continues to work with high school students from all over the world to help guide them through the college admissions process.

MEET Your ESSAY SPECIALISTS

 

Sandy is an independent college consultant and former school counselor with a background in family therapy, having worked her entire career with teenagers and families. She graduated UW-Madison with a BS in psychology, received a MS in Marriage and Family Therapy from Seattle Pacific University and came back to UW-Madison for her doctoral work in Human Development and Family Studies. As a Narrative Family Therapist, she has helped hundreds of people story their lives to reach their highest potential and has used this unique skill as an expert in helping high school students find their voice and tell their most powerful stories in their college essays.

As a member of the Independent Educational Consulting Association (IECA) and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) she visits college campuses throughout the year and attends national admissions conferences annually staying well-versed on college admissions practices and policies.

  University of Wisconsin -   Madison   (BS)  Psychology  Seattle Pacific University - Masters,  Marriage and Family Therapy  Northern Illinois University -  School Counseling Certificate  University of Wisconsin - Madison,  Doctorate ABD Human Development and Family Studies Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs.

University of Wisconsin - Madison (BS) Psychology
Seattle Pacific University - Masters, Marriage and Family Therapy
Northern Illinois University - School Counseling Certificate
University of Wisconsin - Madison, Doctorate ABD Human Development and Family Studies
Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs.

  New York University (BA)  Communications, Creative Writing  Princeton University teaching fellow  Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs.

New York University (BA) Communications, Creative Writing
Princeton University teaching fellow
Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs.

 

 

Kate graduated from NYU with a B.S. in Communications and a minor in Creative Writing. She continued on to be a Princeton University teaching fellow in Asia and has also worked with students in standardized test preparation. Kate funnels her passion for storytelling as a coach for college essays where she helps students to develop their most powerful narrative as well as to build the foundation for their evolving, individual ideas. Kate has worked with hundreds of students who have gone on to be accepted to dozens of America's top colleges.

Amanda is a veteran educator, writer, and storyteller, and expert in helping students reach their full creative potential. She is a professor of Performance Studies at California State University, Northridge, where she teaches students to find their committed, creative voice and to actively pursue their passions through writing and performance. As a tutor and college admissions coach she has worked with hundreds of high school students to tell their truest stories. Her students have been accepted to some of the country’s best schools.  In her other life, she is an award-winning theater director and Artistic Director of Fugitive Kind Theater. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of California, Irvine, and a Fulbright scholar to New Zealand. She lives and creates in Los Angeles in a colorful house full of tiny interesting objects.

  University of Virginia (BA) UC Irvine (MFA) Fulbright Scholar   Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs

University of Virginia (BA)
UC Irvine (MFA)
Fulbright Scholar

Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs

MORE OF THE COLLEGE ESSAY GUY TEAM

Devon Sawyer serves as President at College Essay Guy.

He began his career in education as a senior test prep instructor and college counselor for students in the US and overseas.  He went on to develop a college counseling curriculum for domestic and international students applying to top American colleges and managed a team of counselors that helped students gain admission to dozens of amazing colleges.

Devon also:

  • Has 5+ years experience counseling students on college admissions to highly selective schools

  • Has 5+ years experience teaching test prep and developing curriculum for the SAT, ACT, AP exams, and SAT Subject tests as well as humanities seminars and academic readiness courses

  • Graduated from Grove City College with a BA in History and Philosophy

  • Has counseled dozens of students applying to hundreds of colleges

  • Delivered workshops and seminars in the US and China on college admissions counseling

  • Is an active member of the National Association for College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) and the Western Association of College Admissions Counselors (WACAC)

 
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Here are two things you should know about our team

1. More than 80% of the students we work with gain acceptance into one of their top choice schools, and 98% of those who have applied to the Top 50 schools have been accepted. 

2. But we don't base our success solely on our students' college acceptances.

Why? Because there are so many other things that our students have done well (GPA, SAT/ACT, Extracurriculars, Life) before meeting us that have prepared them to write a great personal statement. Instead:

We measure our success in other ways...

  • Each time a student tells us that working with us has made him a better writer

  • Each time a student tells us we've helped her gain confidence

  • Or when we receive a testimonial like this:

My time with the College Essay Guy Team has been nothing short of amazing and personal. They are dedicated to working with students on a 1 on 1 level and ensuring that they position themselves in the best light during the college process. I really found out a lot about myself and my interests, along with my strengths and weaknesses.


That's how we know we've made a real impact. And that's why we love our work.

But we also don’t mind bragging a little. And, because parents are sometimes curious, we’ve compiled a list of acceptances from the past few years:


Click here for 2016-2017 Acceptances and Testimonials

Click here for 2017-2018 Acceptances and Testimonials


more Testimonials:

“I cannot stress enough how much I recommend working with College Essay Guy. They took my experiences and helped me transform them into an application I was proud of which told a compelling story. With his help, I got into my dream school, and can't thank them enough!”

- Hattie B..

"Working with the College Essay Guy team, I discovered who I am as a person, what I value, and how I specifically developed and express my values. Knowing who I am as a person was essential in genuinely presenting myself to college admissions representatives. My essay coach, Mr. Simpson, met with me over Skype and was free to meet as much as I could keep up. He coached me on how to write my essays, but did it in a way where my voice was maintained. The best part about the College Essay Guy team is that I was constantly pushed to strive for even better essays. They do not want to just get you an essay, they help you present yourself in the best possible way you can...I learned a lot about what I value as a person. I learned about my different qualities and characteristics that I have used in the past, and will continue to use in the future. I really enjoyed reflecting on specific experiences that led me to develop these values... I enjoyed working with the College Essay Guy team."

- Kirk D.

I had a great experience with Ethan and the College Essay Guy team! They really listened to me and helped me to compile a complete and convincing application. I got into my dream school, thank you so much!"

- Aarav M.


Parent references available upon request. Just ask.


UNLIMITED 1-ON-1 PACKAGES

Each of the "Unlimited Packages" below includes work unlimited sessions with one of my essay coaches and oversight by me (Ethan). 

The prices below do not include work on college list development. (i.e. The first three sessions noted above.) If students need assistance with developing a college list with our counselor, please add $500 in addition to the pricing below.

If we happen to have concerns about discrepancies between a student's profile and the list of schools being applied to, however, we will offer suggestions of schools to consider.

Important Note: The pricing below is guaranteed for up to 30 days from sending this page to you. Pricing is subject to change as demand changes and our spots fill up.

3 SCHOOLS UNLIMITED PACKAGE (application Only) – $3,500

Complete your entire Common App application plus help with supplemental essays for three schools, including:

  • Personality, Aptitude and Career Testing and feedback

  • Common App Main personal statement (650 words)

  • Common App Activities List

  • Common App Additional Info statement (650 words)

  • Supplements for any THREE schools (Can be anywhere from 5 - 15 essays depending on schools selected)

  • Guidance in standardized test prep and getting good teacher recommendations

  • Access to:

    • The Complete Guide to Writing the "Why Us" Statement

    • The Complete Guide to the Interview

    • The Complete Guide to Getting Great Teacher Recommendations

  • As many sessions as needed with my expert essay coach

See above for a detailed breakdown of this process.

Note: Students applying to the University of Texas (UT) or Univ. of California (UC schools) can opt to trade out two schools for those applications (which are a separate application with separate requirements). This would then include the Common App, supplements for ONE school, plus the the ApplyTexas essays or (if applying to the UC schools):

  • UC Personal Insight Question 1 of 4 (350 words)

  • UC Personal Insight Question 2 of 4 (350 words)

  • UC Personal Insight Question 3 of 4 (350 words)

  • UC Personal Insight Question 4 of 4 (350 words)

  • UC Activities List

  • UC Additional Info statement

COMPREHENSIVE + 6 SCHOOLS UNLIMITED PACKAGE – $4,500

Complete your entire Common App application, PLUS the supplements for six schools, including:

  • Personality, Aptitude and Career Testing and feedback

  • Common App Main personal statement (650 words)

  • Common App Activities List

  • Common App Additional Info statement

  • Supplements for any SIX schools

  • Advice on standardized test prep and getting good teacher recommendations

  • Access to:

    • The Complete Guide to Writing the "Why Us" Statement

    • The Complete Guide to the Interview

    • The Complete Guide to Getting Great Teacher Recommendations

  • As many sessions as needed with my expert essay coach

Note: If applying to UC or UT schools, each requires a separate application, so each system would count as two schools of the total package number. Alternately, UC or UT may be added for $1,000 per application.

COMPREHENSIVE + 10 SCHOOLS UNLIMITED PACKAGE – $5,500 (MOST POPULAR)

Complete your entire Common App application, PLUS the supplements for ten schools. Includes everything listed in the COMMON APP + 6 SCHOOLS package above.

Note: If applying to UC or UT schools, each requires a separate application, so each system would count as two schools of the total package number. Alternately, UC or UT may be added for $1,000 per application.


if you'd like to work directly with ethan through the whole essay process: 

Please inquire for rates.


FAQ

Do you cover all aspects of the college application process (not just essays)?
Yes. Though the company is called College Essay Guy (because that's what Ethan has become known for in the industry), we have a good deal of expertise (a combined 50+ years experience) counseling students through the entire process, as well as counselors on our team with experience working in college admissions offices. In short: we can do it all.

Where do sessions take place?
Online via Skype, email and Google docs.

Where have your students been accepted? 
All the Ivies, as well as many other amazing schools. See links at the top of this page for our most recent acceptances. It's important to note that our services are advisory in nature and we can't (of course) guarantee admission to a highly selective school. But we can put together the best application and essays to demonstrate your gifts, skills and values.

How do you assign essay coaches?

All of my coaches are highly experienced and experts at what they do. However, after reviewing each student's pre-work, I like to assign coaches based on each student's overall profile and writing style and abilities. 

Do you write essays for students? 
No. The essays submitted will be the original work of the student. 

What if I (student) am not a good writer?
The process may take a bit longer. That’s okay with us.

What advice do you have as I begin the process?
We highly recommend developing a balanced college list. Most students, for example, fixate on 1 or 2 highly selective (usually Ivy-League) schools, but we find the students who are most happy with the process are those who helped develop a wide range (usually nine to ten schools) with around 3 reach, 4 maybe, and 3 likely.

Do you help students develop college lists and college counseling?
We do! This can be added on for an additional fee. Please let us know.

Can I see some essays from past students? 
In terms of sample essays, here are the essays written by the four students we worked with in 2015-2016.


Scope of Services

A. College Essay Guy responsibilities include providing the services indicated in the selection option(s) above.

B. Parent and student responsibilities include:

  1. Disclosing in a timely manner all student’s academic and psychological history, including report cards, official score reports from standardized tests, and reports of any disciplinary actions 

  2. Maintaining regular communication with College Essay Guy Team (henceforth “CEG”) 

  3. Meeting CEG deadlines for submission of essays and completion of assigned tasks 

  4. Responding to emails and contact from CEG Team within 48 hours and notifying team of any potential delays in communication (we will be extending the same courtesy)

  5. Scheduling of and making college visits (if applicable) 

  6. Maintaining communication with the student’s high school counselor and following the requirements of the student’s high school guidance office 

  7. Sending official test scores to colleges 

  8. Securing academic and personal recommendations 

  9. Completing and sending applications (or waitlist/appeal statements) in a timely manner 

  10. Monitoring status of application and advising colleges of enrollment intentions 

  11. Writing for the application must be the student’s own original work

C. Payments

Full payment is due upon signing. However, for your convenience, a payment option is available for an additional service fee of $200.

If less than two months left before deadline, full payment is due one month before the final application deadline. 

PAYMENT MAY BE MADE VIA CHECK (preferred) made out to “College Essay Guy” and sent to: 

College Essay Guy, LLC.
PO BOX 250876
Glendale, CA 91225

Payment also possible by direct bank transfer or PayPal, but client will be responsible for additional fees.

D. Important Note

Since the services provided by CEG are advisory in nature and the final decision on selection of colleges rests with the student and family, it is understood that neither Ethan Sawyer nor any member of the CEG Team guarantees acceptance to any particular college. Fees are not accepted from institutions or programs for referral or placement of a client. The primary obligation of CEG is the welfare of the student.

Although we have had gratifying success, no guarantees are implied. Since the only person who can impact the college’s ultimate decision is the student, designated fees are payable whether or not the student gains acceptance to the college of choice.