New Book Available for Students and Their Parents on Writing an Effective College Essay

Several few years ago, when my nephew was applying to college, my sister Tami asked me what she could do to help her son with this process.

I gave her a long list of things she should not do: Don’t tell him what you think he should write; don’t write it for him; don’t edit it and change words; don’t suggest topics when he says he is stuck and needs help. I was so busy telling her what not to do that I forgot to tell her anything she could do.

She suggested we write a book with real tips and advice for parents who just want to help. It was wrong to assume every parent wants to fix the child’s essay.

That conversation with my sister was momentous. As a direct result, we changed the way we approach parents. Rather than tell them to back off and go away, as many inside this industry tend to do, we began to embrace them. We brought parents into the process and gave them permission to help.

We even wrote a book about it – How to Write an Effective College Application Essay – The Inside Scoop for Parents. Just released in paperback, we first released it a year ago as an ebook. The new version is updated with more helpful resources, blank pages to write notes, advice from the admissions office, and detailed explanations of the new 2017 Common App prompts. You’ll also get additional access to writing exercises we use with our own students.

We wrote How to Write an Effective College Application Essay for parents, but with you in mind. We share our unique approach to teaching reflection early so you can prepare students properly for the essay at the beginning of the process before the actual writing takes place. We also provide insight into the essay’s role within this increasingly competitive admissions process.

At Wow, we will never suggest a parent (or anyone!) write a college application essay for your child, or edit an essay so heavily it loses your child’s personality and voice. But we believe parents can be a huge asset to you if they feel like they are playing a critical role in the journey to college. The preparation process is a perfect place to include them.

Please read the book (it’s just $9.99), and then recommend it to your parents. (We can give discounts for purchases of 50 books or more). It is a short guide, and will take you less than an hour to read.

Parents who read our book and follow our advice are always surprised by how straightforward it is. Many are also surprised by how wrong they were about their role in the process.

When students learn how to reflect before they start writing, they write more meaningful college essays. With our book as your guide, you and your parents can help your students approach the college application essay calmly and confidently, and get a better shot at admission to their dream school.

Parents have called the book engaging, informative and a must-read for any parent with a child applying to college. Here are a few reviews:

“This book gave me insight into the parent’s role in the process,” said Debbie Logan, from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. “I had no idea what colleges were looking for or where my job ended. The insight is priceless.”

Logan read the book before her second daughter applied to college. (She now attends Columbia University.) She said the book helped her keep a healthy distance from her second daughter’s application, particularly the essay.

Rebecca Gold, from Providence, Rhode Island, was about to start working with her third child on the college application journey when she read the guide. She said it was easy to follow, well-written and more helpful than any other college-related book for parents. “Rather than telling me what to do, the authors helped me understand what my son needed to be successful in this essay writing process, and what I could do to support him.”

Mark Cornillie, from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, thought his background in public relations and journalism would be valuable when his sons applied to college. The book gave him a reality check. “I thought I had some wonderful ideas about the essays my son should write and how he should write them. This book convinced me to step back, and empowered my son to remind me whenever my conviction faltered. The essay he submitted was wholly his own, and not only did he achieve admission to his top-choice school, but his essay was among a handful referenced in a letter by the Dean of Admissions to incoming students. I doubt my envisioned ‘perfect’ essay would have achieved that.”


Kim Lifton is President of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communications and writing company; she is a national expert on the college application essay. You may contact, or go to the Wow website for free and other counselor resources.