Friday, September 23, 2011

Novelist Elizabeth Benedict is here to help with Don't Sweat the (College) Essay!

Elizabeth Benedict, author of Mentors, Muses and Monsters, Almost, The Practice of Deceit, and more is a writer's writer. Smart, funny, warm and generous, she makes you feel that she's always on your side. Now, Elizabeth has this brilliant new business--helping make sense of one of the most traumatic events in the world--writing the all-important college essay.  I've asked Elizabeth if she'd talk about her company here, and truly, who better to help you or your kid write a knockout essay than a knockout novelist? Thank you, thank you, Elizabeth!

 Do You Suffer From College App Essay Syndrome?

The English have a dozen ways of saying “It’s raining.” Parents of today’s high school seniors have more than a dozen words for "worry." I probably don’t need to list them for you.

The race to get into college has never been more fierce. And the college application essay, once a minor part of the process, is now central to how your child comes across to the admissions committee. 

At many schools, the essay has replaced the interview as the way to reveal a student's individuality, to differentiate one smart, talented kid from another. It's the place for your kid to sparkle, to stand out, and get the admissions folks to move the application from "Maybe" to "Yes.” It wasn't this way when we went to college, but like it or not, it's the way we live now. 

I started my business, Don't Sweat the Essay (link to:, to help families navigate this brave new world. I have decades of experience teaching writing (fiction and nonfiction) at top colleges and universities, and getting young people to find their material, locate their voices, and produce their best work. I've got a page of credentials that are all over the Internet (writing and editing novels, memoirs, biographies, articles, even a poem or three). Please go to the company website or google me (I’m not the actress or the interior decorator of the same name.) 

For right now, let's talk about The Essay.

The truth is that The Essay is often more than one essay. If your son or daughter is applying to any top tier schools, s/he might have to write separate essays for each school.  

The essential document is the Common Application Essay (CAE), which goes to each school your child applies to. In Supplemental Applications, many schools ask for an additional essay. Many also ask a number of questions that require short answers.

If your son or daughter is applying to five or ten schools, he or she might be writing a lot of essays under a ton of pressure. 

If your child is applying to a school Early Decision or Early Action, there may be only one application. However, if s/he is turned down - you'll know in mid-December – s/he must move into high gear to send out applications by January 1. Many students prepare those essays and applications long before mid-December.

If you would like help sorting through this, and you’d like someone neutral to guide your son or daughter through the process, I hope you’ll contact me.

I live in New York City and Boston, and work with people all over the country by phone, Skype, iChat, and email. I’m happy to give discounts to low-income families with verification.  

Huge thanks to Caroline for posting this ~ and for having such a wonderful, welcoming blog.

Elizabeth Benedict
Don't Sweat the Essay
917 294-6296 


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Robby said...

Remind me to come back and read this 12 months from now. I will need it.

Caroline said...
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Caroline said...

Robby, you're a fabulous writer! (But Elizabeth is wonderful!)