The Killer Essay

The One and Only Essay Question in the Universe: “Tell Us About Yourself”

No matter which prompt you choose to write about, you are the main subject. This is your chance to distinguish yourself from others and connect on a personal level with your admissions officer.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning essay. You do need to reveal who you are, how you think and what you value. This is what admissions officers are looking for behind the GPAs and standardized test scores.

So avoid those bland, generic yawners like, “What I learned when I…..”, “How my hard work and discipline paid off…” or “These are a few of my favorite things.” Write about something you really know and care about, no matter how small or quirky it may seem.


Here Are A Few College Essay Tips

Keep It Real
Do not try to impress your reader with big words or fancy phrases. Use your own voice, the one you would use in a conversation, or when you’re telling a story to someone over coffee. Write like you talk, without the umms or grammatical errors. Remember, many of your admissions readers aren’t much older than you are!

Spice It Up
Always use specific examples, bits of dialogue, colorful adjectives and active verbs. Your challenge is to keep your over-worked, bleary-eyed reader AWAKE.

No Robert Frost!
Avoid clichés and famous quotations: If two roads diverge in your essay, grab a red pen.

Tell Them Something New
Don’t repeat anything that has been covered in the rest of your application, unless you have an unexpectedly provoking new angle on that topic.

Don’t Rush It
Creating a Killer Essay is a gradual process that involves many rewrites. Take short breaks to save your sanity. As you begin to write your college essays, check out The Process in 10 Steps.

Stuck? Need more college essay tips? Need a push in the “write” direction? Ask Susan…


What Students Say About Susan 

"Susan was a lifesaver during my college essay writing process! From brainstorming creative topics to editing the final draft, Susan was by far the most helpful aide I had. The college application process can be so overwhelming, especially with the numerous essays required at each school, and to have someone to coach you, and yes, at times hold your hand, saved my sanity and my applications. Susan is the most supportive, creative and compassionate woman that I have had the pleasure of working with and I have no doubt in my mind that when grad school applications roll around she will be the first one I call. Thank you Susan for everything you have done! You’re amazing!"

Pitzer Class of 2010

"Susan not only helped me to write the best personal essays I could, but also taught me how to express myself in clear, concise and persuasive prose. What I learned from her helped me get into college and allowed me to flourish there. In fact, Susan's emphasis on brainstorming, free-writing, rewriting, and self-editing have become the cornerstones of my own writing process, which has served me well professionally and personally. Susan is a teacher and mentor of unparalleled wisdom and skill. She is my personal guru, and I sing her praises to the heavens daily. I cannot recommend her highly enough. If you ever have the chance to work with Susan, grab it!"

Yale Class of 2002

"Susan Wolf helped me throughout--from conception to execution. She was a guide and mentor, helping me refine my ideas and craft a series of application essays. Working with Susan was instrumental for me, and the single reason I believe I got accepted. She helped me keenly identify the things that could help distinguish me from the hundreds of other applicants. She worked with me to make sure that my essays were more lucid but still retained my voice. As a writer now for the Wall Street Journal, that was very important to me. I've worked with a lot of editors in my job and can honestly say that she is exceptional. I feel very lucky that I got a chance to work with her on my college application process.

Princeton Class of 2004

"As a writer, its my job to tell stories. One of the hardest stories to tell is your own story. Susan Wolf helped me tell my story. If it wasn’t for her knowledge and dedication, I don’t think I would have been admitted to the college of my choice. It is rare in life that we meet someone who truly cares for our well being. Anyone who has the opportunity to work with Susan will get 100% of their money’s worth."

Emerson Class of 2014

"Susan listened to the personality beneath the words of my first draft and pushed me to create a unique college application. She has the experience to guide you and the energy to spark your writing."

Duke Class of 2013

"Susan is a breath of fresh air in the college application process and gives you the tough love you need. She's direct, insightful, and knows exactly what to tell you to move your application to the next level - whether it's thinking through schools, assessing your application as a whole, or wordsmithing your personal statement. Most importantly she performs her job within a context of caring and fun so that working on your app becomes a fun challenge rather than a source of dread. She was critical for my results and the process couldn't have been better!"

Harvard Class of 2007

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