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Guest Blogger: Alicia Garceau | College Essay Advice

September 6, 2023

I wanted to turn my blog over to a dear friend and an amazing writer. She has helped numerous students with their college essays and has some great advice. She has some some ways to stay on top of the application process with your senior. Please share this, and feel free to reach out to her if you need some guidance. Thank you, Alicia!!!!

Turning it over to Alicia…

Early last summer my daughter participated in a Common Application essay bootcamp at her high school. She dashed off a draft, got some feedback from a visiting college admissions officer and then shelved it for the next few months.

Nov. 1, the early action deadline, seemed far away — until it wasn’t. After Labor Day, she looked at the calendar and realized she had just eight weeks to complete her Common Application, Common App essay and all the supplemental essays for each school, and the panic set in.

Maybe your senior is feeling the same sense of overwhelm. If so, let me tell them what I told my own daughter: You’ve got this. Really! Just do a few simple things, and you’ll be in good shape at the end of October.

Assess: You won’t really know what you’re up against unless you take a full survey of how many supplemental essays you need to write in addition to the Common App essay. (For my daughter it was 15. FIFTEEN!! I’m a professional writer, and that number seemed a bit daunting even to me at first.) Make a spreadsheet that lists each school you’re applying to, its essay topic (or topics. Yes, some have two or three supplementals) and corresponding deadline. This single task will help you feel less overwhelmed and more in control over the next eight weeks.

Schedule: Senior year is a busy one, so you’ll need to set aside time each day to work on your essays. Maybe it’s during a study hall or that hour after school if you have early release. Wherever you can block off an hour or so, do it. Giving yourself the gift of time will allow you to set a draft aside for a bit and come back to it with fresh eyes. The end result will be a better essay. I highly DO NOT recommend trying to crank out all your essays the week before they’re due. It never ends well. That brings me to…

Deadlines: Give yourself enough time to make revisions and proofread ahead of your school’s application deadline. Better yet, set your own deadline well ahead of the official one and shoot for that instead. It will give you a few weeks of wiggle room in case something comes up or goes awry (and something always comes up or goes awry, I promise).

Accountability: Writers working on long projects often have accountability partners they check in with regularly to make sure they’re both making progress. Find a friend or classmate who is also working on essays and agree to hold each other to your writing schedules and self-imposed application deadlines. It can be as simple as sending a text that says, “Done!” each day.

Feedback: Finally, ask for help. Even professional writers don’t write in a vacuum. They share their writing with other writers and ask for feedback in order to improve. Make sure to do the same.

Alicia Garceau is a freelance writer whose writing has been recognized nationally. She offers college essay help to high school seniors. Find her at her website or contact her at

  1. Julie Monacella says:

    Thank you, Alicia! I appreciate your advice and hope it helps others! We look forward to your help with the process. 🙂


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