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Statement Guru | Statement Guru for Personal Statement/Admissions Essay Tutoring for College, University, Grad School Admissions Four Recommendations for the College-Bound Senior - Statement Guru

10 Nov Four Recommendations for the College-Bound Senior

Admissions season is in full-swing, and since my slogan is “My mission is your admission,” I thought I would put together a list of recommended resources.



Listen up, seniors, you already know that a ton of colleges require you to submit through the Common App. What you may not know is that you’re doing it all wrong. You know who clearly did it exceptionally right though? Jessica Yeager of Impress the Ivies. How else do you think she got into basically every elite school imaginable? But don’t worry. She’s not here to laugh in your face. Just the opposite, in fact, Jessica set up Impress the Ivies to help you, well, impress the ivies (or MIT, Stanford, Duke, Cal Tech, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, etc.) Recently, she put together THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE COMMON APP, which lays out her entire approach, with actionable advice. It worked for her, it works for her students, and it will work for you.

If you want to hear more from Jessica, a while back, appeared on The Statement Guru podcast to talk about her background and her work with Impress the Ivies. Listen to the episode below:

Full disclosure: I’m on the list of resources you get when you sign up for the Ultimate Guide to the Common App extras.



Ultimately, applying to college is a game. Your grades and words are the game pieces. The application itself is the board. So who’s the opponent? The admissions officers, of course. Not like in a malicious way or anything, but they are ultimately the gatekeepers. Make an impression on them, and you’re in. Don’t, and it’s game over. In my blog entries and conversations with my clients, I repeatedly implore applicants to try to put themselves in the adcom’s shoes. After reading hundreds of essays, what about yours will make them sit up and take notice? But sometimes, it’s just hard to grasp what these mysterious entities are thinking.

Which is exactly why My Grandmother’s Dead Too: What Not to Write About on Your College Application Essay by Andy Babbitt is so valuable. It’s written by an actual admissions officer currently working at a highly selective university. This is information so exclusive, he had to publish it under a pseudonym! It’s only three dollars and worth many times that for its ability to take you “behind enemy lines.” Many of his points I’ve realized myself, but he’s able to articulate them better. Some of his points even took be a bit off-guard and have forced me to re-evaluate own approach to admissions essays. If you’re a college-bound senior, MY GRANDMOTHER’S DEAD TOO: WHAT NOT TO WRITE ABOUT ON YOUR COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY is well-worth the read.

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Full disclosure: I know this shadowy Andy Babbitt figure in real-life.


Maybe I shouldn’t promote this one too hard, because if it really caught on, my business would suffer! You see, one of the biggest challenges I face as an admissions essay tutor is a lack of self-knowledge and dedication to their chosen field on the part of my clients. In other words, they’re not sold on the path they’re on. And if they’re not sold, it’s hard for me to help them sell it to others in their essay. So, where should high schoolers go about attaining this sense of purpose? Clearly, the friends, family, counselor route isn’t working. And that’s exactly why At the Core was created—to give students a personalized, attentive framework to gain a stronger sense of identity and drive. Previously, its services were only available in the Columbus, Ohio area, but the company has since taken many of its operations online, and you can “get at the core” from anywhere. So if you’re still grappling with the age-old “What Do I Want to Do When I Grow Up?” question, AT THE CORE gives you the answer.

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Full disclosure: The founder of the company is my colleague, and I am listed on their recommendations page.


If you’ve never read an admissions essay book before, let me give you a rundown of what 99% of them are like. They’re mostly essays of past applicants who got into otherworldly institutions. Many also throw in some anecdotes of how they helped a student get to next level. Some throw in some general purpose essay-writing advice for good measure. After reading the book, you’re left discouraged. The author is more preoccupied with trying to wow you with not only some star students’ work, but also their own knowledge of what makes a great admissions essay. Meanwhile, your own essay languishes. I sincerely believe that great essays are created, not from reading the work of others, but from doing the hard work yourself. But without a gameplan, you could be working on your essay forever without even sniffing greatness. Well, 50 QUESTIONS FOR YOUR ADMISSIONS ESSAY DRAFT by Nived Ravikumar is your gameplan. It gives you fifty highly pertinent, insightful questions to ask of your draft. The more of these questions you can answer in the affirmative, the better. More importantly, the ones you can’t answer yes to are the points you need to concentrate on during your next rewrite. 50 QUESTIONS FOR YOUR ADMISSIONS ESSAY DRAFT is available on paperback and for Kindle.

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Full disclosure: I wrote this book!


If you’re a college-bound senior, I hope you found this list helpful. If you’re not, why not share this with a college-bound senior? I’m sure they’ll find it helpful!

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