My Unstated Service: Relieving Family Stress
Applying to university is stressful. Between the standardized testing, striving for good grades, social activities, jobs and other demands, students in grades 11 and 12 must make some big decisions and put together applications for the high-stakes lottery that is The College Application. Applying to 10 colleges can require students to write 20 or more application essays. All of this can put pressure on students, their parents and on family relationships. No one loves this conversation starter: “Haven’t you revised that essay yet? It’s due on Friday!”
Although it’s not on my service list, one of the things I do for client families is to relieve some of the pressure. I take the mystery out of essay writing and make a clear plan for completing all essays on time. In our first meeting, usually in the summer before senior year, I meet the student and the parents together for free. I explain the essay writing process, how much time it will take, and how it will help the application. I encourage families to take advantage of all the college advising resources at their high school and to come to me with a fairly firm list of colleges the student will apply to.
That’s when the writing process begins. The student and I identify which of their traits, skills and experiences to highlight in their college application essays. We do some exercises to help them notice how they are different from other people — this can be hard for teenagers, who are still getting to know themselves. Over several weeks, we identify stories that highlight those qualities. We do talk a bit about essay structure, grammar and punctuation, but we talk much more about what college admissions officers are looking for and how to write about oneself in a positive, revealing way, in one’s own voice. We meet once a week or less often, depending on the need.
Throughout this process, I keep students on track to complete essays before their submission deadlines, and I keep parents updated on our progress, including any bumps in the road. A parent in California said, “You provided so much follow-up! I will recommend your business to my circle of parent friends.” A mother in the Philippines thanked me for coaching her daughter, now at Notre Dame who was accepted to many highly selective schools. This busy mother of 4 has recently hired me to work with daughter number 2, who is now starting the process of applying.
Get in touch with me for a free consultation! The best time to start is now.