How to Write a Killer College Application Essay

A Step-By-Step Mini Course to Learn How to Craft a Narrative-Style College Admissions Essay That Works!
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  • Lectures 20
  • Length 7 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 5/2015 English

Course Description

Are you or someone you know in Essay Hell?

You've been told how much these dreaded college applications essay matter. A bad one can keep you out of your dream school. And a great one could get you in.

To write a great one, however, everyone tells you to "Be Yourself!" and "Tell a Story" and "Stand Out!" But how exactly do you do that in about 500 to 700 words? No one ever taught you to write about yourself--let alone how to come across as intelligent, likable and an ideal student.

Until now. The good news is that you can learn to craft a killer college application essay, and it doesn't have to take weeks and months. You just need help finding a hot topic, and then follow the simple steps to write your own "slice-of-life" story using a narrative (storytelling) style. College admissions officers love these!

Why believe me?

As an award-winning journalist, English teacher and author, I have worked with thousands of college-bound students throughout the world on their essays over the last 8 years. And almost all have landed in their top-choice college and universities--many despite unremarkable GPAs and test scores. There's no reason you can't, too!

(Check out my instructor bio at the bottom of this page to learn about my professional background and experience, and my college essay writing web site, called Essay Hell.)

Like having your own private writing coach

In this crash course, I literally step you through the exact approach I use with my private students--helping brainstorm a unique topic, find your real-life stories, map out a writing plan, learn powerful literary and creative writing techniques, and finally edit and polish your "slice-of-life" essay.

Along with my 11 short video presentations, I share the most effective tips and advice through instructive handouts and worksheets, which include sample essays from real students and unlimited access to ALL FOUR of my popular essay writing guides, published on Amazon.

(Students can read my popular companion essay ebook writing guide, Escape Essay Hell!; and my ebook collection of 50 sample college essays by real students, Heavenly Essays; and my latest ebook writing guide, the Writing Survival Kit; and my ebook strategies for the five Common Application essay, popular supps, transfer essays and more in Essay Hell's 2015-16 Prompts Primer.)

I know how busy you are, so in this crash course you will quickly learn exactly what you need in your essay to set you apart from the pack, and then the steps (brainstorming, writing and editing) you need to take to write your own.

Course Content

You start by learning exactly what college admissions officers want in these essays, and then launch into the 10 steps of crafting your own. During the crash course, you will:

  1. Identify your defining qualities and characteristics
  2. Find your real-life stories for a "slice-of-life" essay
  3. Learn what makes a hot topic
  4. Discover the secret to a great story
  5. Map out your narrative-style essay
  6. Learn how to write the all-powerful anecdote
  7. Reveal your intellectual vitality, grit and life lessons
  8. Bump up your writing with literary techniques
  9. Craft a conclusion that is memorable
  10. Self-edit and polish your killer essay
You can move through these steps all in a single day, or over a week or two, or several months. It just depends on how fast you work. But by the end, you will have a killer college application essay in hand that reveals what makes you you--and will be the most potent and personal component of your college application. This is literally guaranteed!

Also, without even trying, you will have dramatically boosted your writing ability and learned language tools and techniques that will help you once you land in your dream college, as well as with future projects in the workplace.

What are the requirements?

  • The determination to write the best essay they can!

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Write a narrative-style college application essay in 10 steps
  • Quickly find a unique topic that sets you apart from the pack
  • Learn to power your writing with real-life stories and professional writing tips and techniques
  • Discover what college admissions officers really want to hear in your essay
  • Complete a "slice-of-life" personal statement that captures your personality and character

Who is the target audience?

  • Students applying to college who need to write a college application essay
  • Anyone who works with college-bound students on their application essays (eg parents, English teachers, college counselors, college admissions counselors, ed. consultants, etc.)
  • Anyone who needs to write a personal statement for a scholarship, internships, graduate school (medical, law, business, etc.), or specialty program
  • Anyone who wants to dramatically improve their writing chops

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction: What Makes a Great College Application Essay?

Read the six sample essays from real students to see the type of narrative-style essay you will learn to write yourself during this step-by-step course. You can also get great ideas for your own topics.

Section 2: Find a Hot Topic for Your College Application Essay

Printout or download this super helpful worksheet so you can collect your defining qualities and characteristics, and after you watch Lecture 3, you can start to add your real-life stories as well.


You will learn how to brainstorm specific moment or experiences that relate to your core qualities, which you will later learn how to craft into grabber anecdotes to power your essay.


Read this short handout to learn what essay topics you might want to avoid.


You can make sure your real-life stories are exciting and interesting by making sure they involve some type of problem.

Section 3: Learn to Tell Your Story

You can see how you will use your anecdote and what you learned about it to structure and weave a meaningful narrative essay.

Section 4: Master the Art of Showing

Learn how to use literary and creative writing techniques--including sensory details, descriptive language, dialogue and scene setting--to craft an anecdote to power your essay.

Section 5: How to Tell Your Life Lessons

Learn how to explain the meaning of your anecdotes to reveal to the reader how you think, what you learned and what you value.

Section 6: How to Add Depth, Interest and Meaning

Learn how to review your rough draft and find ways to tighten the focus, and increase meaning and make sure its effective and memorable--and helps you stand out from the crowd.

Section 7: How to Write a Memorable Conclusion

Learn whether or not to include a formal conclusion, and how to write a "kicker" last sentence that makes your essay unforgettable.

Section 8: Make It Perfect! How to Edit Your Essay

Learn how to make sure to revise your essay to meet the word count, and cut out unnecessary language to give it a sharp and impactful focus. Also, learn to get the right help with proofreading so your essay turns out exactly how you want it: to reveal what makes you YOU!

14 questions

This short quiz will help you review some of the key points about writing a narrative-style, slice-of-life essay.

Section 9: BONUS! The Complete Essay Hell Library
My step-by-step guide: Escape Essay Hell!
57 pages
My collection of sample essays: Heavenly Essays
150 pages
My Writing Survival Kit
111 pages
My strategies for prompts: Essay Hell's 2015-16 Prompts Primer
41 pages
Section 10: RESOURCE CENTER: Info on Common Application Prompts and More
Common Application Prompts
1 page
Video: How to Answer Prompt 4 of the Common App
ApplyTexas Prompts (for UT and other TX institutions of higher education)
3 pages
University of California Prompts (incoming freshman and transfers)
1 page
Sample Essays That Show Grit
2 pages

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Instructor Biography

Janine Robinson, Journalist, English teacher, author and blogger

A former journalist, English teacher and author, Janine Robinson is the leading writing coach in the world for teaching students how to write narrative-style essays for college applications. Her popular blog, Essay Hell, where she shares free tips, advice and strategies for writing standout college application essay, has received more 2 million visitors, and averages 10,000 visitors a day during the admissions "season" seeking her guidance.

Through her private coaching services from her hometown in Laguna Beach, California, and online platforms, she has helped students throughout the world craft essays that helped them get into all the most competitive colleges and universities.

While helping her own college-bound daughter in 2008, Janine realized that students are told to make their essay "About You" and to "Be Unique" and "Tell a Story," but no one had taught them how to do that with their writing. She couldn't believe the pressure and stress put on these dreaded essays.

Drawing off her extensive writing and editing experiences working with award-winning newspapers and magazines (The Miami Herald; Orange County Register; Los Angeles Times,Entreprenuer Media, ...) , Janine began developing resources to teach students, and those who work with them, how to power their essays with literary and creative writing techniques. With Janine's step-by-step approach outlined in her popular writing guides, she helps novice writers quickly find their real-life stories, and learn to tell them using an engaging and effective narrative style.

No one knows for sure how much an essay can impact your chance for admission, but college experts agree that they often are the deciding factor--especially for the most competitive schools. If nothing else, the college application essay is your No. 1 chance to show schools you are more than just your GPA and test scores. A well-conceived "slice-of-life" essay is the best way to put a likable face on your application and show your dream school why you are the perfect fit for their learning community.

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