Thoughts on helping your students who are procrastinating in writing their College Essay

For the Class of 2018, it’s time to get those college essays done, and students all over the country seem to be falling behind. That’s what I’ve been reading in high school counselor groups on Facebook, LinkedIn and other online chat groups.

I have been most intrigued by the many comments by counselors who are pulling their hair out, unsure of what to do when students fail to meet their school due dates when the first major early application deadlines are just around the corner: Nov. 1.

Procrastination is a problem, but you can still help them.

But how? What are you supposed to do when that draft you’ve been waiting for finally arrives? How are you going to review any of them when your plate is so full?

We understand you are a high school counselor, not an editor. We know it’s not your job to make sure your students have killer first lines and powerful prose. (That’s not what colleges look for, anyway.) But you’ve got to do something, right?

You can help guide your students and point them in the right direction without pulling your hair out if you spend 5 to 10 minutes reading the student’s draft to make sure they have answered the prompt in an insightful way.

As you read, ask yourself these two questions that college admissions officers tell us are most important:

  • Did your student answer the prompt?
  • Have they said something meaningful?

Want to learn more? My business partner, Susan Knoppow, just did one of her best webinars for professionals focusing on reviewing essays when they are so pressed for time.  If you email me at  and tell me you read my blog on LINK for Counselors website I’ll send you Susan’s great video for FREE!

Kim Lifton is President of, a strategic communication and writing company, and a leading expert on the college application essay. She is the co-author of two books about the college essay:1) How to Write an Effective College Application Essay, The Inside Scoop for Parents, and 2) How to Write an Effective College Application Essay, The Inside Scoop for Students. The books are available on