How we work with our students

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

Students meet with one of my experienced college essay specialists, who works closely with me, to help you brainstorm, draft and develop your best possible college application. 

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 years of experience helping students with college applications and essays and are masters at what they do: helping students craft stories that help them stand out. (These are the coaches I'd send my daughter to.)

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:


You (the student) complete a few hours of pre-work that includes a series of my favorite brainstorming exercises, a first draft of your Common App Activities List and Additional Info section, and you’ll share any drafts you’ve worked on so far.

If working with us on your college list, you’ll complete a college preferences questionnaire, transcripts, and a few other items.


Once your college list is close to being finalized, work on your application and essays begins.

I’ll review your pre-work and brainstorming activities and then pair you with your essay specialist, with whom you’ll meet for an hour and a half initial session to develop your application strategy, brainstorm main essay topics, and discuss outlines for your main essays.

Here's what that session with your essay specialist might look like:


  • Review your brainstorming activities, activities list, and the rest of your pre-work

  • Discover your deepest story, discuss and craft your application strategy, and discuss how you might stand out among thousands of other applicants

  • Brainstorm topics for your main Common App statement and (if needed) your UC Personal Insight Questions drafts

  • Brainstorm topics for your main supplemental essays, depending on schools, and find where there might be overlap among the many essays you’ll be writing

  • Discuss initial structures and outlines for your essay, if needed

Then, you’ll go off and write your first draft(s). You'll meet with your essay specialist to continue the drafting process, while I meet with your coach in the background each week and offer feedback throughout the process.

Here's what those next sessions might look like:


  • Review your first drafts of your essays

  • Continue to brainstorm your 10-20+ supplemental essays, including the "Why Us," extracurricular, and community service essays as well as any other school-specific topics.

  • Revise your Activities List to ensure you’re highlighting the impact you’ve had over the months and years

  • Craft your Additional Information statement 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, or changes in personal life that may have influenced decisions in high school, etc.


  • Continue to draft your main personal statement, as well as work on drafts for your supplemental essays

  • Brainstorm topics for next set of supplemental essays

  • Review your Activities List & Honors and Additional Info section to ensure colleges have a complete picture of who you are, what you've accomplished, and what you've contributed to your community

  • Write, write, write!



Note: Students can meet with their college list counselor and their essay specialist concurrently, if needed.


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 supplemental essays, but the number of sessions depends on a student's writing abilities and (honestly) appetite for re-drafting. 

On average, students have least 10 sessions with us, but may meet with us for as many as 20+ sessions if working on 10+ schools.

In addition, you'll stay in contact with your counselor (if working with us on your college list) throughout the process to ensure the other aspects of your application are on track, including discussing your college list, major selection, early application strategy, standardized testing, senior year course work, and teacher and counselor recommendations.

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


When you and your coach feel the essays are almost 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 truck recommendations while you're visiting Occidental College (two words: Taco Zone).

The goal completion date for Early Action/Early Decision schools is September 15th. The goal for having all applications done is November 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 revisions until November 15th of your application year.

Note: Access to your essay coach beyond that date may be available for an additional fee, pending coach availability.

Want help developing a customized list of colleges?

We can help.

Our college list counselors have years of experience working in admissions offices and reviewing college applications, and/or working with hundreds of students through the college admissions process and developing a list of best-fit colleges.

(optional add-on)

If working with us on your college list, you’ll meet with your college counselor to craft your college list, decide on major selection by school, strategize Early Action or Early Decision strategy, get recommendations on test prep planning, strategize your teacher recommendations, and anything else you need to get on track.  Meanwhile, you'll research and finalize your college list between sessions. Here's a look at what those sessions might look like:

College List Development

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

  • Review your transcripts and discuss your academic performance in context of your school's offerings, personal life, and future goals

  • Review standardized tests, if needed, including ACT/SAT, SAT-Subject tests, etc.) and develop test planning strategy

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

College List Development

  • Review the results of your college list research, what you like and didn’t like, and discuss additional options

  • Discuss early and regular decision application strategy

  • Strategize teacher and counselor recommendations

  • Follow up on test preparation planning and upcoming test dates

  • Discuss enhancing involvement in extracurricular activities over the next few months

  • Ensure senior year course selection is on track


College List Development

  • Continue to review follow-up college research and decide on a near-final list of 8-10 colleges

  • Discuss and finalize intended major for each of your colleges

  • Finalize early and regular decision application strategy

  • Ensure teacher recommendations are in progress

  • Discuss how to best prepare for any college interviews

  • Make final tweaks to any SAT Subject or standardized testing strategy


Ready to get started?





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 private work with a small number of students.  

Ethan also:

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

  • Has 15+ Years experience as a teacher, curriculum writer, community organizer, voice actor, and truck driver (true story.)

  • Wrote the #1 Amazon 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

MEET our College CounselorS

Stacy Professional with Computer.JPG

Stacy began her career in education as an admissions counselor at 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 Colorado. Currently, she works as an 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.

Carolyn has been an independent college counselor since 1998, and has served as College Counselor at a boarding school in California and two private high schools in Florida. She has also taught in high school and university classrooms for two decades and has applied that experience to guide students on their path to adulthood. She also founded a wildly successful high school with an eye toward selective college admissions and helps others who want to do the same. Carolyn also:

  • Taught in 12 institutions of higher education, ranging from the tiny private Drew University in New Jersey to UCLA in California.

  • Has toured over 100 college campuses and gap year programs as part of her work as a college counselor.

  • Has a counseling certificate in College Admissions Counseling from UCLA.

  • Has counseled hundreds of traditional and non-traditional students from around the world who have gone on to hundreds of universities including Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, University of Toronto, London School of Economics, and all of the Ivies.

  • Co-authored On To College, a guide to college admissions, What Are You Waiting For? A Workbook for Living Your Purpose, Path, and Passion, and Engage! Setting the Course for Independent Secondary Schools in the 21st Century, as well as over 100 articles for a variety of publications. 

Carolyn runs 5K every day, enjoys upcycling thrift store finds, attending dance performances, visiting gardens, art museums and being present for expressions of creativity in every form--especially college essays. She is bilingual in Spanish and has lived in Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Trinidad and now lives in North Palm Beach, Florida, with her husband, Frank.  

Carolyn Portrait
Susan Tree.JPG

Susan is a native New Yorker whose career in education has included many dimensions of the college admission process.  Following her graduation from St. Lawrence University with a BS in Psychology, Susan moved to New England where she worked at Bates College as Associate Dean of Admissions. She completed her Master’s degree in School Counseling at the University of Southern Maine. For the next 20+ years, Susan served as the Director of College Counseling at a college prep day and boarding school near Philadelphia where she worked with students from around the world. Since stepping out of that role, Susan has evaluated applications for a selective research university and is working as a consultant to schools, professional organizations, and families. A counselor at heart who loves helping students and parents launch their college searches, Susan finds time to be a writer, sports enthusiast, and mother of college sophomore twins.

Susan also:

  • Has years of experience working with American and international students applying to selective research universities and liberal arts colleges, fine and performing arts programs, test-optional institutions, and disability support programs.

  • Has evaluated thousands of liberal arts college and research university applications.

  • Has served as a founding board member of the Character Collaborative, the Independent Curriculum Group, and the college access organization GoToCollege NYC.

  • Served on the Counselor Advisory committees of the College Board, the Educational Testing Service, and the Common Application.

  • Volunteered with the National Association for College Admission Counseling as chair of the Commission on Standardized Testing, and the regional Admission Practices Committee.



Rae is a writer, educator, poet and filmmaker who has been helping students discover their visions and articulate them in their college applications for over a decade. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Rae began her work in education teaching art classes at a local elementary school and launched her passion for writing with her thesis book of poetry. Her first jobs include working for the University of Chicago Press as an assistant copy editor, joining the University of Chicago Admissions Office as an Admissions Officer and Student Program Administrator, and teaching high school English language and literature at one of the first charter schools. A few years later Rae embarked on her career in filmmaking and moved to Los Angeles with her MFA from the University of Miami. When she isn’t working on her films she continues offering workshops within her community and is a professor at Emerson College where she teaches between Boston and Los Angeles. She is a Mellon Fellow and has received numerous awards for her writing and media work. She currently resides in Boston where she continues her search for the perfect potato taco.

University of Chicago (BA) University of Miami (MFA) University of Chicago, Office of Admissions

University of Chicago (BA)
University of Miami (MFA)
University of Chicago, Office of Admissions

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.

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 from the University of Wisconsin-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.



Kate graduated from NYU with a B.S. in Communications and a minor in Creative Writing. She continued on to be accepted as 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 selves. Kate has worked with hundreds of students who have gone on to be accepted to dozens of the worlds top colleges, including but not limited to Columbia University, Stanford, NYU, Brown, Berkeley, UPenn, USC, The New School, and the American University of Paris. 

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.

Stanford University (BA)  Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs

Stanford University (BA)
Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs

studied film at Stanford, where he specialized in nonfiction storytelling. After that, he gravitated toward podcasting and event-based storytelling, becoming the co-host of True Story Podcast (with 7+ million downloads, to date). He also coached Stanford undergraduate students in storytelling craft and awareness through the Stanford Storytelling Project. He began shifting his attention toward poetry and elder caregiving while continuing to coach businesspeople as well as high school students in storytelling via their college admissions applications and essays. He delights in the way that story craft is a combination of discovery and development, carving away the unnecessary to reveal what was always there. He sees his greatest role as an essay coach as creating a space in which writers can feel safe in the midst of the challenges of story crafting, so that they might be learning and growing and even enjoying themselves through the process. He lives in Berkeley with five friends, two pets, seven chickens, and three beehives.

Nicole is an award-winning writer, columnist, and editor with more than 30 years of experience with the written word. She graduated from Tufts University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her career has spanned many platforms — newspapers, magazines, advertising material, web, and educational manuals. But no matter the nature or subject of the content, she has learned that all good writing comes down to telling a unique, captivating story and knowing your audience. She has spent much of her career helping other writers achieve those objectives while finding and fine-tuning their own voice. These days, she gets the most joy out of helping young people develop that muscle and discover the power it wields, and she believes there are few better avenues for this self-discovery than the college essay. Nicole is the mom of two teenage daughters and one spoiled dog. In her spare time, she kickboxes for exercise, plays Words with Friends and crossword puzzles on her iPhone and volunteers her time with her husband’s nonprofit fishing academy for at-risk kids.

Tufts University (BA)  English Literature  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (MA)  Journalism

Tufts University (BA) English Literature
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (MA) Journalism

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (BA) Shenandoah University -  Master’s degree in Education   Duke University: Thompson Writing Program -  Writing Consultant Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (BA)
Shenandoah University -
Master’s degree in Education
Duke University: Thompson Writing Program -
Writing Consultant
Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs

Rene is a veteran educator who has taught academic writing courses at Duke University for a decade as well as advised faculty there on increasing inclusivity through effective intercultural communication. As a writing coach, she has coached students at Duke’s law school, served as a writing consultant for Ph. D candidates, and worked privately with students as a college essay consultant. She enjoys guiding students to develop narratives that share personal insights and that invite their readers into another world. Rene has worked with students who have been accepted to some of the country’s top schools. Her past experience includes teaching undergraduates in Puerto Rico as well as serving as an undergraduate admissions reader for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She lives out in the countryside just outside of Chapel Hill.


Mindi is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UC Berkeley who is passionate about helping students find their unique voice in their college admissions essays. Under her guidance, she empowers students to use mindfulness and growth mindset techniques to discover the “selves” behind the image they want to present to admissions teams — encouraging confidence, exploration, and positive risk-taking.  By assisting them in accomplishing things they haven’t been able to do on their own, she aids students in discovering powerful connections between different parts of their lives through their writing. Fun fact: Recently, one of Mindi’s students had her college essay featured on Johns Hopkins University’s famous college admissions blog as an example of an “Essay that Worked.”

Mindi also provides academic mentorship and development for students in a variety of subjects and standardized tests, and has helped past students gain admission to top colleges including Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, University of Pennsylvania, Duke, Georgetown, University of Southern California, and all of the University of California campuses. Outside of working with students, she uses her Masters in Music to share her own unique voice as an opera, musical theater, and choral performer throughout greater Los Angeles and beyond.

UC Berkeley (BA) CSU Long Beach (MFA)

UC Berkeley (BA)
CSU Long Beach (MFA)

Vassar College (BA) Columbia University Teachers College (MA)  Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs

Vassar College (BA)
Columbia University Teachers College (MA)

Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs

Calvin studied English Literature at Vassar College and went on to graduate from the prestigious Columbia Teacher’s College at Columbia University. He is a passionate reader, writer, and all-around communicator with a deep love of narrative. Having worked in both a classroom setting as an English instructor and through one-on-one college counseling and mentoring, Calvin seeks to leverage structure in writing to elevate students’ stories and help them access their highest college aspirations. He is a passionate advocate of college access and has guided hundreds of students through the college admissions process and helped students craft essays that have helped them gain admission to some of the most selective colleges in the U.S. In his day job, Calvin manages a network of 80+ mentors as Program Manager for an organization that provides mentoring for high-achieving low-income students.  

 believes in the idea echoed by many famous authors that writing is the best way to figure out what you think. Figuring out what you think about yourself and your life-- and bringing to light through storytelling the invisible essence of who you are-- is its own special kind of magic. That magic extends far beyond the achievement of getting into a great school; the reflection and hard work that go into a compelling personal essay impart valuable lifelong insights about writing, thinking, and self-knowledge. Although Kelly has spent a lot of time learning and teaching about storytelling and writing-- from working at StoryCorps in NY to teaching in Duke's nationally-recognized Thompson Writing Program-- she is happiest being an essay coach! She has worked with hundreds of students, who routinely gain acceptance to their first-choice and often highly competitive schools. Kelly is a proud UC Santa Cruz Banana Slug who went on to earn her M.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She lives in Durham with her husband and two big dogs.

UC Santa Cruz (BA) -  Psychology  School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MA) -  Visual & Critical Studies  Duke University: Thompson Writing Program -  Writing Consultant Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs.

UC Santa Cruz (BA) - Psychology
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MA) - Visual & Critical Studies
Duke University: Thompson Writing Program - Writing Consultant
Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs.

Stanford (BA) -  Political Science Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs.

Stanford (BA) - Political Science
Works with students via Skype, email and Google Docs.

Andrew has helped somewhere close to 10,000 students on their journeys toward higher education. He attended Stanford and Oxford, earning degrees in Political Science and Drama.

He teaches college classes in Los Angeles in Critical Thinking, Sociology, Anthropology of Media, Political Science, English Composition, and Public Speaking. Over the past decade, he has helped dozens of students achieve perfect scores on the SAT and ACT, and has helped students gain entrance to Stanford, the Ivies, U Chicago, Northwestern, and many other top 25 schools, speaking to and working with both groups and individuals on the writing process.

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, including Harvard, Duke, Rice, USC, UPenn, and dozens of other great schools. In her other life, she is an award-winning theater director and the Artistic Director of Fugitive Kind Theater. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia (BA) and the University of California, Irvine (MFA), 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

Brown University (BA)   Georgetown University (MA)  - International Relations

Brown University (BA)
Georgetown University (MA) - International Relations

Sofia is committed to helping students making education count and living bigger lives. She has worked with hundreds of students, designed and lead college application essay workshops and helped students write powerful stories to gain admission to the college of their dreams. Sofia is the author of Journeys to the Heart, a book about social entrepreneurs, failed ideas and change-makers in Indonesia. She has lived in Asia and Europe and has worked as a strategy consultant in Washington DC. Sofia graduated from Brown University majoring in international relations. She holds a masters in European political science from L’institute des Sciences Politiques and a Masters in diplomacy and international business from Georgetown University. She loves theater, any kind of science and politics, modern art, board games, painting, mindful practices, kickboxing, a good read, empowering conversations and her amazing family. She believes in the power of young people’s ideas and creativity to make positive impacts throughout their lives.


Devon Sawyer serves as President of 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 American colleges and managed a team of counselors that helped students gain admission to top schools in the US and around the world.

Devon also:

  • Has 8+ years of experience counseling students in college admissions to highly selective schools

  • Has 8+ years experience teaching test prep and developing curriculum for the SAT, ACT, AP exams, and SAT Subject tests as well as delivering humanities seminars and academic readiness courses

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

  • Has counseled hundreds of students on their journey applying to college.

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

  • Is an active member of the National Association for College Admissions Counselors (NACAC), the Western Association of College Admissions Counselors (WACAC), and the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), traveling to annual national college admissions conferences.


Here are a few of us at our Annual Training Retreat


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 your future success is not dependent on where you go to college. Also, there are so many other things that our students have done well (GPA, test scores, Extracurriculars, Life) before meeting us that have prepared them to write a great college 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

  • Each time a student lets us know that they’ve emerged from this process with better clarity about their own values and place in this world

  • Or when we receive a testimonial from a parent like this:

Parent Testimonial.JPG

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:



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 their help, I got into my dream school, and can't thank them enough!”

- Hattie B, STanford University

"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, University of Pennsylvania

"I loved the positive attitude and willingness to listen. I felt like yu really cared about what I wanted and where I wanted to be. You helped me find my voice and tell a consistent story. You also helped me coordinate my essays and common app information so I was able to highlight different aspects of my experience and personality, which I was having trouble doing myself. I got into my dream school; thank you so much!"

- Aarav M, Cornell University

Parent references available upon request. Just ask.

Service options & pricing

Each of the "Unlimited Application & Essay Packages" below includes meeting with with your essay specialist as many times as needed to develop your overall application strategy, brainstorm topics, and draft and polish your applications and essays. They also include regular oversight and feedback from me throughout the process (and before final submission of your applications.)

1-ON-1 UNLIMITED application & EssayS PACKAGES

6 Schools Package

As many sessions as needed to complete:

Common App main personal statement (650 words)

Supplemental essays for any SIX schools (Typically 12+ essays)

Common App Activities List

Common App Additional Information statement (650 words)

Access to our full suite of courses, guides and resources



10 Schools Package

As many sessions as needed to complete:

Common App main personal statement (650 words)

Supplemental essays for any TEN schools (Typically 15-20+ essays)

Common App Activities List

Common App Additional Information statement (650 words)

Access to our full suite of courses, guides and resources



Note: These packages include assistance with college applications and essays only and do not include college counseling or college list development guidance.

Customized College List Development &
Counseling Add-on

In addition, students can elect to work with one of my experienced college counselors on developing a customized list of colleges, as well as receive high-level strategy recommendations and answers to questions on anything from Early Action/Decision strategy, intended major selection by school (not all majors are equally competitive!), standardized test planning, or any questions on any topic of your choice.


College List Development & Counseling Guidance

Develop a customized list of reach, target, and likely colleges over three video conference sessions with one of our experienced college counselors

Get guidance on any other topics of your choice, including:

-Early Action/Decision Planning
-Intended major selection by school
-Securing strong teacher recommendations
-SAT/ACT/SAT Subject test planning
-Interview preparation
-Senior year course selection
-Topic of your choice.




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

Please inquire for availability and rates.


Here’s a bit more about what’s included:

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

  • Common App Main personal statement (650 words)

  • Common App Activities List

  • Common App Additional Info statement (650 words)

  • Supplements for any SIX schools (Can be anywhere from 5 - 12 essays depending on schools selected)

  • 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

    • All of the paid video courses available on my website.

  • As many sessions as needed with my expert essay coach

See above for a detailed session-by-session breakdown of this process.

Important Note: The essays-only packages do not include work on college list development, which is a separate fee. (i.e. The three sessions noted under DEVELOPING YOUR COLLEGE LIST above.) If we have concerns about discrepancies between a student's profile and the list of schools they are applying to, we will reach out to the student and parent to share concerns.

Important Note #2: Students applying to the University of Texas (UT) or University of California (UC schools) can opt to trade out two schools for those applications (which are a separate application with separate essay requirements). Application and essay requirements for scholarships or specialized/accelerated programs (such as fine arts, theater, or certain Honors college programs) may count as two schools depending on essay requirements. Note that most scholarships and honors colleges do not require additional essays and if requirements are not extensive, typically over 300 words, we are happy to include them within the package. Please contact us if you have questions.

Includes everything noted above in the 6 schools package PLUS supplemental essay for any TEN schools.

College list development is a separate fee. (See above for details.)

UC and UT schools can be substituted for 2 schools each, given they have extensive application requirements.


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 60+ years experience) counseling students through the process, as well as counselors on our team with decades of experience working with students and 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 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.

Do you write essays for students? 
No. Beyond being unethical, that would be doing you a huge disservice and also undermine the transformative element of this process. The essays submitted will be the original work of the student. 

How do you assign essay coaches?

After I (Ethan) have a chance to review the pre-work of your student, I like to assign coaches based on each student's individual personality, targeted schools, and writing style. Also, all of the coaches I work with are amazing at what they do and have experience working with students of various writing abilities and learning and working styles, so you are in great hands no matter who they you with.

Do you offer hourly packages?

We work with students through a tried-and-true process of brainstorming topics to polishing the final draft. We find it super important that the college essay process be grounded in an in-depth brainstorming process and some discussion to help you get to the point where you’ve found your deepest story and are comfortable tackling your first draft. And that sometimes takes a session or two.

As a result of this, we don’t offer hourly help or give essay feedback without the context of all of the other things that you’ve accomplished or experienced in your rich and colorful life. We’ve also found that it’s so important to have the flexibility to meet as many times as necessary to help you have great essays. It gives you (the student) and our coach the freedom to spend time getting to know each other, to experiment and get creative, and to try things out without concern for how much time you’ve spent so far, or have left.

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 have developed a wide range (usually 8 - 12 schools) with around 3 reach, 4 maybe, and 3 likely.

Can I see some essays from past students? 
In terms of sample essays, here are a few essays written by past students.

Can I start with a smaller package and upgrade later in the process?

Pending your coach’s availability at the time of upgrade, we’d be happy to help you with additional colleges! Just pay the difference in your current and the desired package, and we’ll dive into brainstorming the new topics. If upgrading after the 3rd session with our team, we request an additional $350 in order to compensate our team for the additional time needed to brainstorm and strategize topic selection for the new set of schools.

Can my son/daughter meet with your team to get an idea of how the whole process works?
Absolutely. Email us and we’ll be happy to set up a call to walk you through the process and answer any questions you have.

For students interested in working directly with me through the essay process, I (Ethan) am available for a 15 minute get-to-know-you Skype call with those serious about working together.

You can email me directly at:

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 two-payment option is available for an additional service fee of $200, with 1/2 due at the start of the process, 1/2 due one month later.

If less than two months left before deadline, full payment is due up front.

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

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

Payment also possible by direct bank transfer or PayPal.

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.