Over the many years that we’ve been helping high school students earn admission to the colleges of their dreams, one of our headline observations is that high school students, well, they just can’t write very well. In fact, that’s an understatement. They tend to write very poorly. This is true even of applicants with perfect or near perfect grades and test scores — even applicants with 800 reading scores and 5’s on the AP English Literature and AP English Language exams. It’s true of students at elite boarding schools in New England. It’s true of students at public schools in South Dakota.
A comment we very often hear from our students in the years after they’ve earned admission to their dream schools is that we helped improve their writing. It’s a compliment that means the world to us — more than a referral, more than students coming back to us to help them earn admission to graduate school. Through revision after revision on essay after essay, we help students improve their command of the English language. We flush the instructions of their high school English teachers out of their systems. “But my English teacher taught me never to start a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but.'” Not anymore! Beginning a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’ can be quite powerful — if used effectively. “But my English teacher told me it’s good to start sentences with ‘however’ and ‘nevertheless.'” Yuck. No more. Dare to write a fragment. Dare to use a simple word instead of a big one. Write colloquially rather than write to try to impress.
Our students at Ivy Coach, through our process, end up becoming great storytellers. They become masters in the art of the narrative. It is our mission to help them create such powerful and compelling narratives that we effectively dare admissions officers not to offer them admission. Dare to pass, as we call it. And for those folks shopping private college counselors (we very openly don’t want shoppers — Ivy Coach is not for you!), consider reading the quality of writing on the websites of private college counseling firms. It’s often quite telling.