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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.

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NEW! Includes PPs on “How to Write Supplemental Essays” and “How to Write UC Essays”!

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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
(wrote famous “Costco essay”)

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How to Find a Hot Topic
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“…Janine helped my son identify areas that made him unique and topics that highlighted his strengths. We watched his essays transform from mere ideas to coherent attention-grabbing stories. The process proved to be a time of enrichment and self-discovery.”
Jack Feng, father of Jeremy, who is attending UCLA (2018)
Laguna Hills, California
Jeremy also was accepted to UCI, UCSD, UCSB, Notre Dame, U of Washington,  NYU, and Ohio State.

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.

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The Essay Hell Blog

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Your College App Essay Sucks. That’s OK!

  As a writing coach for college application essays, I receive many drafts from students (and their parents) who want to know if their essay is any good. More often than not, I have to tell them it's not. After doing this for over a decade now, I can usually tell...

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4 Sizzling Tips to Brand Your College App Essays

Brand Yourself by Writing Focused College App Essays I avoided writing about how to brand yourself with these college application essays for years now. The thought of branding sounded crass and commercial. Truth is, applying to college is a giant sales job. And these...

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Why I’m Not Grateful for the Newest Common App Essay Prompt

Beware of the New Feel-Good Prompt for 2021-2022   I wish I could say I was grateful for the newest essay prompt added this year by the Common Application: 4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising...

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Beware Covid and the College Application Essay

A Great Essay Topic? Anything But the Coronavirus! When counseling students on finding great topics for their college application essays, I often direct them to explore problems they have faced in their lives. Problems provide the perfect springboard for writing a...

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FREE College Application Essay Webinars!

FREE Summer Essay Writing Webinars! First one: Wednesday, July 8! I know this is a hard time for many students and families. To do my small part to try to ease the financial strain due to the current pandemic, I will be offering FREE webinars this summer to help...

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Start a Coronavirus Diary NOW!

It's Not Too Late to Capture Your Unique COVID-19 Experience in a Journal I know most of your are busy with online schooling. If you find extra time on your hands, and want a great way to practice narrative writing to prepare for your college application essays, start...

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The Main Point of Your College App Essay

Know the Main Point You Want to Make About Yourself In Your Essay! Or else...   I don't know why I haven't written about this before. It's soooooo important to writing a college application essay that will give you that edge in landing your dream school...

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Looking for College Application Essays to Publish!

***Looking for help starting your essays? Check out my affordable Jumpstart Webinars! Adding more for July. Only $30. FREE if you can't afford them. Have a College Admissions Essay You Love? Send It In! It been a little over five years since I published my...

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How to Write About the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

***Need in-person help getting starting? Check out my Jumpstart Webinars. Only $30! FREE if you can't afford them. Two left this month!  Tips on Turning Problems into Hot Topics So you have thought of a topic you want to write about in your college application essay....

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