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Part 1

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How to Write a Personal Statement

Course description

This online video course provides students with everything they need to write an amazing personal statement for college.

With over 10 hours of content, including Q&A sessions with me (College Essay Guy), it's the most comprehensive course of its kind. 


Discover what matters to you, brainstorm essay topics, and get inspired to write.

Get step-by-step guides to outlining and writing the personal statement.

Grow your ideas into a unique and powerful story of who you are.


Learn how to bring in color and detail and make your essay shine.

Write your essay in less time and with less stress.

Learn exactly what colleges want and how to hit the mark.



Module 1 - Brainstorming
Module 2 - How to Structure Each of the Four Essay Types
Module 3 - How to Revise Your Essay
Module 4 - Ethan Gives Feedback on Real Essays
Module 5 - How to Make Sure Your Essay is Doing Its Job
Module 6 - How to Bring an Essay to Life With Details and Color
Bonus Modules - Advanced Techniques

Detailed syllabus below.



Watch the lessons on your own time.


Sample essays

Read inspiring sample essays and learn why they work so well.



...use the Common App and the personal statement you write in this course will work for them all.



If you're not completely satisfied with the course, get a full refund within 30 days.




Get three rounds of direct and detailed feedback from amazing and trained college essay specialists. (Optional. Additional fee of $40/revision)



Craft an amazing personal statement.







Watch all my recorded content anytime, anywhere.


Bonus: Get 50% off The Application + Supplemental Essays Course when you register for the Personal Statement Course. 

How? Register for the How to Write a Personal Statement course and you'll be taken to the discounted offer.


“You're an amazing teacher, and I can feel the passion you have for us. I really appreciate all the work you've done for us. Thanks to you, I've been able to say what I've wanted to say about my life and show how it has impacted me. That's something that I've struggled to do in the past. So from the bottom of my heart, I just want to say thank you!”
– Miles P.

Ready to join me?


Here's what a few people have said about this course.

I didn't know how to write an essay at all, but by taking this course now I really know how to write one. It encouraged me to think about the challenges I've faced in my life and their impact on me. The first exercise made me to go and look at my Scrapbook and photos and this really made me happy. This course helped me in writing an essay while bringing my memories back, which made me realize that I'm capable of reaching my goals and I'm strong.

-Ana, Student 2017

“Ethan was the finest mentor anyone could ask for.  He guided me and, more importantly, encouraged me to write the best college essays that I could possibly manage. His way of working was unique: his exercises and insights helped me perfectly incorporate my ideas in the essays. Never in any of our sessions did I feel stressed; rather he always made the path crystal clear and made me realize my most efficient plan of action. He inspired me. And as a college applicant, that’s all you really need to write great essays. Would recommend Ethan 100%!”

-Swastid, Student (2016)

I came into this course thinking I was a hopeless case because I didn't have any harrowing tales of struggle. I tried just being really braggy in my essay, but after working with my writing partner and having Ethan workshop it in the session, we found a real focus in my last paragraph, where I talked about a topic that meant a lot to me. I had originally thought I shouldn't talk about that topic because it was such a GOOD experience for me and I thought it would be too shallow. I learned that I could talk about what I loved as an essay topic if I could infuse it with my values.

-Jordan, Student (2017)

With the aid of Ethan’s constructive feedback, I have learnt a great deal about myself as a person and as a writer. The Application process is so much more than a number on a paper, it is a journey of self discovery. As I continue to embark on this journey, I will always be thankful for all that I have learned during my time working with Ethan.
— Salasha D, Student
Your mission to provide equitable access to the best courses on essays is what got me to where I am today, from the pay what you can system to my frequent talks with my Matchlighters counselor. You gave me the tools I needed to change my life. For that, my family, friends, and myself thank you for the bottom of our hearts.
— Ali, Harvard University, Class of 2021
“You de-stressed the essay writing process by making feel that we could relate to you. Rather than being stressed about writing my essay, I was excited for the sessions, and actually looked forward to finding my topic and then writing it. Thank you!
— Julianne W, Student

This course has truly changed my life. I now feel that I am prepared to tackle my Questbridge essays, supplemental essays, and any other college essays to ensure that I've tried my best and hardest for my future. After all that this course has provided me with, saying thank you feels inadequate, but still – thank you so much, Ethan. You have truly changed my life and my perspective on writing a personal statement.

-Amenna R, Student


I came into this course a bit grumpy that I had sacrificed all my week nights for college essay writing, but once I got into it I felt like I hit my groove, and, with your help and advice, really got inspired to write. If I hadn't taken this course, there is no way I would have a) found my topic b) started to write yet or c) completed a pretty darn solid draft. So thank you!!! This course seriously rocked!

-Ava, Student (2016)

The past week, was more of a journey than a tutorial for my personal statement. Before the course, I was looking outwards for inspiration. My week with Ethan taught me to find inspiration within myself, but best of all, he provided me the tools to put it on paper.

-Jonathan, Student (2017)

Thanks for the webinar. I have learned a lot since then. Getting to put my pen on writing my essays, just tear me up as I have to reconnect with my past, but I will get there. Thanks to Ethan and his team for leading us towards getting into college.

-Emily, Student (2018)





LESSON 1 - Brainstorming


  • How to Develop a Menu of Essay Topics in About 15 Minutes
  • A 5-Minute Exercise for Discovering What Matters to You Most
  • The Five Brainstorming Exercises I Use With My Private One-on-One Students
  • 106 Ways to Find an Essay Topic
 how to apply to college


 how to apply for college
  • The Only Two Structures Needed to Write an Essay
  • The Four Types of Personal Statements
  • How Most American Films Are Structured (and How to Use it to Write an Essay)
  • How to End an Essay If You Have No Idea What You Want to Do in the Future
  • A List of Challenges Students Should Consider Including in the Application
  • A Step-by-Step Outline for an Essay About Overcoming Challenges
  • What to Do If You Haven't Experienced Challenges and Don't Know What Your Future Looks Like
  • The Difference Between a Boring Essay and a Stand-Out Essay



  • Three Questions to Ask Before Revising Your First Draft
  • Which Sentences Are (Probably) the Most Important to Revise First
  • Case Study: A Sample First Draft, My Actual Feedback, and How the Final Draft Turned Out
 how to apply for college

LESSON 4 - Ethan gives feedback on real essays

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  • Two Eighty Minute Sessions
  • Analysis of Over a Dozen Real Student Personal Statements
  • Expert Feedback Including Comments and Notes for Revision on a Google Doc



  • Three Questions to Ask That Can Bring More Values (and Information) Into an Essay
  • How to Know If the Essay Is Insightful
  • Three Ways to Show Vulnerability in an Essay
  • Tips for Writing a Well-Crafted Essay
  • How, Whom and When to Ask for Feedback
 how to apply for college


 how to apply to college


  • How to Grab the Reader’s Attention
  • One Great Way to Demonstrate Intelligence in an Essay
  • How to Brag without Seeming Like It's Bragging
  • How to Make an Essay, Like, Deep
  • How to End an Essay in a Powerful Way



  • Advanced Technique 1: How to Use Setup and Payoff to Build Suspense in an Essay
  • Advanced Technique 2: How to Bring More Authenticity to an Essay
  • Advanced Technique 3: Techniques for Turning a Difficult Experience into Something Beautiful
  • Advanced Technique 4: How to Create an Ending That’s Surprising but Inevitable
  • Advanced Technique 5: Four Qualities of an Amazing Essay
 how to apply for college



(IN PRINTABLE PDF or Google doc)

  • The Five Brainstorming Exercises I Use With My Private One-on-One Students
  • How to Develop a Menu of Essay Topics in About 15 Minutes
  • A 5-Minute Exercise for Discovering What Matters to You Most

15+ Awesome Sample Essays (With live analysis by me)

PLUS, THESE BONUS resources:

  • A List of Potential Topics if Writing the Challenges Essay
  • Revising the Essay: A Five-Step Guide
  • An Accountability Agreement (for Working With A Partner)


Who is College Essay Guy?

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 »

"College Essay Guy is much like Batman or spider man. He is a super hero, with super powers. The power to write phenomenal college essays. To channel your own Ethan Sawyer you don't need to be some unattainable being; you simply need to learn, work, and unleash your own superhero in your writing. Through his lessons and courses Ethan helps you discover your own super powers.  It's the perfect storm of lessons and personal feedback. Overall it has been a pleasure to work with Ethan, and all his creative material is conducive for anyone to be the College Essay they wish to see in the world"

-Max K. (2017)


Ready to join me?


Pay-What-You-Can Pricing Available


Work at your own pace.

Watch the videos as many times as you want.

Learn what to write about and how to outline, structure and revise your essay . . .

. . . and best of all, how to bring your essay to life.


Students finish the course with a compelling and memorable personal statement.

Counselors get all the tools they need to help their students through the writing process.

Watch and work from anywhere. You’ll have access to the videos for a year.


Yes, it's actually

Access is really important for me.

In fact, it’s at the heart of most everything I do, and it’s why so many resources on my site are free.

Can’t afford the suggested price?

Just click on the orange "pay-what-you-can" button and request a Pay-What-You-Can spot.


Got a question?

The FAQ page has you covered. Or if you can't find the answer there, shoot my team an email: [email protected]


Want to finish your entire Common Application?

Take the How to Write your college application + supplemental essays course

Learn how to write killer supplemental essays, craft an awesome activities list, and create a compelling application. Read sample essays activities lists and successful college applications, then learn how they were developed.

Lesson 1 - How Inspired Brainstorming Can Lead to an Inspired Application
Lesson 2- How to Create an Inspired Application in Half the Time

Lesson 3 - The Activities List, Additional Info, and 'Why Us?' Essay 
Lesson 4 - The Extracurricular Essay
Lesson 5 - Specific Supplemental Essays
Lesson 6 - Short Answers + More Specific Supplemental Essays
Lesson 7 How to Make Sure an Application Is Doing Its Job
Bonus Lessons - The Rest of the College Application (7+ Bonus Lessons)



How do I get the 50% off the College application + supplemental essays course?

Register for the How to Write a Personal Statement course and you'll be taken to the discounted offer!

Note: This discount can't be combined with other offers.

What if I Still can’t afford it?

As with all my courses and resources, I have some pay-what-you-can spots available for low-income students and high school counselors that work with low-income students or have little to no budget for professional development resources at their school. Just click the orange button above.

What if I have another question?

My FAQ page has you covered. Or, if you can't find the answer there, shoot an email to my team: [email protected].