We Love Your College Essay Questions

We get lots of questions from counselors, teachers, and consultants. In emails. During monthly pro chats. At professional conferences. In Facebook messenger. LinkedIn. And from readers of Link for Counselors

Questions range from how to know if a topic is good enough to handling sensitive essay topics and best practices for last-minute essay reviews.
We love answering your questions. As you know by now, we give the basics to everyone because we like to share what we know.

As you prepare for the Class of 2023, let’s talk about that myth of getting the students to dig really, really deep into their minds to write outstanding college essays. We get lots of questions focused on tips to help students reflect to go deeper.

They need to reflect, but they don’t need to wrack their brains out trying to dive deep. Meet them where they are. Help them reflect to the best of their ability.

Ask questions. Be curious. Ask follow-up questions. Focus on the why. What does the student want to write about? What trait does this story demonstrate? Why do they want to share it with admissions?

It’s not a great idea to push a student too far if they have trouble reflecting. And that’s not what colleges want in an application essay. The job is to answer the prompt with a genuine, meaningful, and reflective story focused on the applicant. They want to know who your student is, what makes them tick, how that student might fit in at a particular college. That’s it.

We also get a lot of questions about handling parents who overstep. In fact, recently,

a counselor posted this question in the Wow Community forum: How do you help students share essays with parents and others in a way that will help them?
Our response: We encourage students to share the prompt, the theme, and the essay together, along with instructions for how they want the reader to respond. Here are some key points to include when asking for feedback:

  • I am proud of the work I’ve done.
  • My essay [demonstrates these characteristics/will help readers see why I’m a good fit/etc.
  • If you find any typos or have questions about clarity, please let me know.
  • But I’m not asking if you like my topic! I like my topic.
  • Also, keep in mind that I’m a high school student, and that’s what I’m supposed to sound like.
  • So, if you have a “better” way to write something, please don’t ask me to revise.

Kim Lifton, of Farmington Hills, MI, is President and Co-founder of Wow Writing Workshop, which teaches students and educational professionals a simple, step-by-step process for writing effective college essays, so students can stand out and tell their stories. Kim leads a team of writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. Since 2009, Wow has been leading the college admissions industry with our unique approach to communicating messages effectively through application essays, including personal statements, activity and short answer essays and supplements. Kim is also an executive board member of Michigan ACAC and a national delegate. When she is not teaching students or training professionals, Kim likes to write her own stuff, do yoga at her synagogue, drink coffee, and swim laps (slowly but steadily) a few mornings a week at the high school she attended a very, very long time ago.