About me…

Janine Anderson Robinson is a journalist and credentialed high school English teacher from Laguna Beach, California, who has spent the last decade coaching college-bound students on their college application essays.

Today, with more than 8 million views to her Essay Hell blog and working with thousands of students from all over the world, Janine is considered one of the foremost experts on how to write narrative essays that consistently land students in their dream schools and programs.

She is the first professional writing coach to promote and develop the idea of using a narrative (storytelling) style in college application essays, and teach students specifically how to use everyday topics and tap real-life stories to illustrate their unique qualities and characteristics in their essays.

Janine’s ideas and 10-step, trade-marked method is shared throughout her blog, her four popular writing guides and her online course.

Her Professional Background

For twenty years, Janine wrote and edited stories for newspapers, magazines and Internet companies.

She worked as a staff reporter for The Miami Herald and The Orange County Register newspapers; wrote freelance articles for The  Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, Entrepreneur media and Orange Coast magazine; and, was the editor of several monthly lifestyle magazines in Orange County. Janine also is a credentialed high school Language Arts teacher.


Throughout the year, Janine tutors students working on their college admissions essays (aka personal statements) and supplemental pieces both privately and in groups. She also trains private college admissions counselors and teachers to use her essay-writing process and become certified Essay Jumpstart Experts.

(Read these testimonials to see what former students and their parents have to say about Janine’s work.)

She also has given college essay writing workshops to: the juniors at Colorado Academy in Denver, CO, the IB students at Palisade Charter High School in Palisade, CO, and Bergen County Technical High School juniors and teachers in Teterboro, N.J.; teachers and counselors with College NOW Greater Cleveland; and college counselors at Laguna Beach High School.

Read HERE about her workshop series with English teachers and 160 select, mostly first-generation students from 30 GEARUP high schools in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

GEARUP recently purchased licenses for Janine’s online essay writing course for their 10,500 students, as well as teachers and facilitators.

In 2018, Janine travelled to China to give her workshops to 380 juniors from the Shanghai International School attending a weeklong college admissions retreat in beautiful Hangzhou outside the city.

This summer, Janine is the featured essay writing coach for the My Pathways to College conference to be held at the University of San Diego campus on July 29-Aug. 2. Students will receive guidance on writing their college admissions essays and support for their college applications.

Her Writing Approach 

Although many students learn to write academic essays in high school, many have not been taught how to write personal, narrative-style essays about themselves.

Drawing on the “New Journalism” story-telling techniques, such as using anecdotal leads, concrete details, poignant examples, dialogue and a narrative style, Janine teaches students how to tell their own real-life stories.

Using her step-by-step approach to essay writing, students can get past the fear and pressure, and tell a personally revealing story about themselves that others (college admissions officers) want to read.

These narrative-style, slice-of-life essays are highly effective in helping students reveal what makes them tick because they are personal, engaging, meaningful and memorable.

The bottom line: Students who reveal who they are, how they think and what they value—and also connect with the reader and help colleges see why they are a good fit—get into their target schools!

Her Personal Background

Janine and her husband are the proud parents of two grown children.

Their daughter graduated from a wonderful liberal arts college outside Little Rock, Arkansas, called Hendrix College, and earned a masters in teaching at The University of California, Irvine.  After teaching several years in the Seattle area, she now works in UX design in Long Beach.

Their son completed three years at the equally wonderful liberal arts college, University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, and through their 3/2 program recently graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, with a chemical engineering degree; currently working in virtual reality research and development for Meta in the Seattle area.

(Both Hendrix College and the University of Puget Sound are both showcased in the terrific college guide, 40 College That Change Lives, in case you are on the prowl for stellar small colleges often off the radar.)

In her free time, Janine enjoys hiking, travel, yoga, playing guitar, Pickleball, cooking, gardening, ceramics, and birding.

Check out her tutoring and consulting Services if you need help on writing your essays, or would learn how to teach others how to write them.

She also has written four guides on writing college application essays: the best-selling Escape Essay Hell!Essay Hell’s Prompts Primer, and a collection of sample college app essays written by former students, called Heavenly Essays.

Her writing guide, Writing Survival Kit, is geared to students who not only want to nail their college application essays, but also develop stellar writing skills. Her latest writing guide, Essay Hell’s 50 Most Common Questions about College Application Essays, was published this spring. All books are available on Amazon as Kindle and/or paperback.

Most popular is Janine’s Essay Writing Boot Camp, which offers online essay writing video tutorials and related handouts and other resources that teach her popular, step-by-step narrative writing process. It is available for sale at a significant discount as bulk licenses for schools and organizations. Janine also offers access to the online writing course FREE to underprivileged or underserved students, and any schools, counselors, or organizations that work with them. (Send her an email for details!)

You can reach Janine via her Contact page to send an email, or directly at EssayHell@gmail.com.