Essay Hell

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Welcome to Essay Hell!

On this site, you will learn tips, advice and strategies to write your dreaded college application essays—and escape the misery of Essay Hell.

Read the helpful posts (click the flames and icons!) and learn to navigate the complicated admissions process, discover powerful writing tools, and craft standout essays to land in your dream school.

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Click the lightbulb to learn more about my popular on-demand, online essay writing course: How to Write a College Application Essay.

Includes 11 short instructional videos, my four writing guides and related worksheets and exercises.

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“Funnily enough, I actually used this website to help guide a lot of my application essays, including this one. So I guess this would be the perfect opportunity to say thank you! I feel like my essays definitely strengthened my entire application.”

Brittany Stinson
Accepted to all 8 ivies and Stanford
2016
(wrote famous “Costco essay”)

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“Unlike other formulaic essay writing approaches…Essay Hell follows a narrative writing style and self-discovery framework that helps you find and write about the most important aspect of your college essays: YOU! Highly recommend!”

Ben Drake
Admitted UC Berkeley, Regents Scholar
Fall 2017
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Everything You Need to Know About the Four Most Common Applications
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Common Application Essays

Find help on choosing from the seven prompts for The Common Application, and crafting a “slice-of-life” essay that helps you stand out.

University of California Essays

University of California Essays

Brainstorm ideas and craft short essays for the eight new essay prompts for the University of California application.

Coalition for Access...Essays

This is a brand new application system: Find strategies for all five of the prompts to write the required personal statement essay.

ApplyTexas Essays (Most Texas Schools!)

Learn about the all-new prompts for the ApplyTexas application, and tips and advice on writing essays for Topic A, B and C.

Escape the Heat!

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Essay Writing Guides on Amazon!

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Tutoring

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Writing Guides

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Online Course

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The Essay Hell Blog

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Start Your College Application Essay: Brainstorm Guide

Find Your Problems and You Will Find Your Best Stories   Every year, I write a post for all you students who are ready to start your college application essay. All you need is to find that one magic topic idea. There are many ways to brainstorm ideas for college... read more

Essay Lessons From a College Applicant Superstar

What You Can Learn From Michael Brown’s College Application Essay   I must have watched the viral video of Michael Brown learning he got into Stanford at least three times in a row. Such a feat and well-deserved accomplishment for what seems like an... read more

New Trick for Finding Killer College Application Essay Topics

Let Lynda Barry Help You Find and Tell Your Best Stories! Try One of Her Awesome Brainstorming Exercises If you’re starting to brainstorm that perfect topic to craft your dreaded college application essay, I have a new writing technique you might find helpful.... read more

Support High School Students Who Call BS on Guns

Learn How You Can Stand Up for Your Rights Join the Parkland Students and Rally Your Own High School! For the last decade, I’ve worked with hundreds of high school students every year on the notorious college application essay. Once these teenagers start... read more

College Rejection: 3 Lessons

Don’t Despair over College Rejection Sometimes You Discover a Better Path   It’s the time of year when high school seniors are learning where they got accepted to colleges or universities. Yay! Good for you! Time to celebrate! Many are also opening... read more

10 Quickie Tips to Nail Your UC Essays

If you are just starting to write your four short UC essays (called Personal Insight Questions), here are ten simple tips that can help you crank them out. I’ve written longer posts on how to brainstorm and map out answers for each of these questions for the... read more

The Big Eclipse: A Lesson in College Application Topic Ideas

  Don’t Even Think About Writing About the Eclipse And What to Write About Instead   When I was invited to give one of my college application essay writing workshops to students at Colorado Academy in Denver, Colorado, I had no idea it would be on the day of... read more

How to Format Your Common Application Essay

Confused on How to Format Your Common Application Essay? Here are 9 Hot Tips The 2017-18 Common Application opened for business earlier this week (August. 1). Chances are you will soon need to know how to format your common application essay. If you are on the ball,... read more

Why Kids CAN Write–If You Teach Them How

Students Stress Over College App Essays Because for the First Time They Want to Write But Realize They Don’t Know How The New York Times ran an article yesterday called “Why Kids Can’t Write.” Great piece, but I didn’t agree with the... read more