Not sure which college application essay coaching and editing service is the best? We compared the top 40 services, created in-depth reviews for 14 of them, and narrowed it down to the 4 best that will help guide you through the process of writing amazing college application essays.

What is the Best College Essay Service?

  1. PrepMaven – best college application essay service overall
  2. College Essay Mentor – best for individual consultants
  3. The College Essay Guy – best for unlimited essay assistance
  4. College Vine – best of the big platforms

The best of the rest:

Individual essay consultants:

  1. College Essay Editor – small editing team
  2. Allison Karpf – former English teacher helping students
  3. Your College Vision – former journalist with more affordable rates
  4. The College Guru – good on paper but unresponsive

Mid-size teams:

  1. College Essay Advisors – no highly-selective experience
  2. Lotus Learning – focus on health sciences

Large platforms:

  1. Study Point – larger platform with mystery editors
  2. Ivy Select – larger platform with mystery editors
  3. Empowerly – larger platform with mystery editors
  4. BeMo – expensive and aggressive with wrong expertise
starting to write college essay


Best College Application Essay Services in 2022

#1 – PrepMaven

Our Verdict — Best College Essay Assistance Overall

Price: $79–349/hour (minimum $510 package)

PrepMaven’s one-on-one college essay assistance is the best option overall. Founded by brothers and Princeton grads Greg and Kevin, almost all of PrepMaven’s essay coaches have Ivy-League experience, primarily from Princeton and Harvard. All essay coaches also undergo a thorough training program in PrepMaven’s methods, developed by professional writers with deep understanding of the college admissions process, for helping students to discover the most compelling stories for their essays.

Unlike other services, PrepMaven offers college essay assistance at several different price points. At the most accessible rate, students can work with current Ivy-League undergraduates who specialize in writing and have recently aced the college application process. At higher rates, students can work with coaches who are both Ivy-League grads and professional writers (screenwriters, journalists, editors) with many years of experience helping students to craft compelling essays. Interested students can even work directly with founders Greg and Kevin, who have over 15 years of experience helping students through the entire essay-writing process.

PrepMaven’s services combine many of the best features of other good options into one, and it’s hard to beat their experience.

Best for:

Any student wanting college essay help, at any point in the process, with a range of budgets.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $85–349/hour (minimum $510 package)
  • Writing coach qualifications: Princeton graduates and professional writers (or current Princeton students); all trained

What we like:

  • Ivy League experience—most of their writing coaches are Princeton grads or current students, with some from Harvard and other Ivies
  • Different pricing options to meet different families’ circumstances
  • More flexible and greater capacity to take on new students compared to individual consultants

Princeton University
Princeton University

#2 – College Essay Mentor

Our Verdict — Best of the Individual Consultants

Price: unknown but high

Some college essay consulting services consist of just one expert. Of these individual essay consultants, Chris Hunt at College Essay Mentor is our favorite. He combines writing experience as a journalist for the Economist and the Wall Street Journal with personal experience as a graduate of Dartmouth.

However, he only works with a small number of students each year, and students need to apply to work with him — he only accepts students with top grades and test scores who are already strong applicants for top schools.

Chris offers the option for one-time written feedback, but this only gives big-picture generalizations. (And written-only feedback is always limited.) In order for help with the essay process, students need to purchase a complete essay package.

Best for:

Students with top grades and test scores who want to work with a one-person business, who have a sizable budget, and who are ready to get started early.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $210 for a one-time written essay feedback (big picture only), then $110 per draft feedback; pricing for essay process packages unknown
  • Essay coach qualifications: professional journalist, Dartmouth grad

What we like:

  • Professional writing experience as a journalist
  • Extensive experience working with college applicants
  • Partners with Debra Felix, former Director of Admissions at Columbia, for full application review

What we don’t like:

  • One-on-one work is limited to very high-achieving students, who need to apply with a resume: “I limit my one-on-one work to students who I believe will be strong applicants to elite universities. As a rule, this means having high grades in challenging classes, a test score of ACT 34+ or SAT 1500+, and substantial activities outside of the classroom.”
  • Works with a limited number of students (60 per year), so often no availability
  • All-or-nothing packages don’t allow students to work with Chris for just a few hours or for part of the essay-writing process
  • Secretive about pricing (he’ll only give pricing details once he’s reviewed the student’s resume and agreed to work with them), but we expect the minimum cost of working one-on-one to be several thousand dollars

#3 – The College Essay Guy

Our Verdict — Best for Unlimited Essay Assistance

Price: $7400 for application for 10 schools

We’re fans of Ethan Sawyer, the original “college essay guy”— his book, College Essay Essentials, is a great guide to the essay-writing process. Ethan doesn’t work directly with many students these days, but he now has a team of consultants who help students follow his principles.

Their assistance is really all-or-nothing — they prefer to work with students from the very beginning of the process, and their minimum package is $4900, which includes assistance with essays for three schools. If students are applying to ten schools (a more realistic number for students aiming at competitive colleges), the fee is a hefty $7400.

Best for:

Students who want unlimited help through the entire process, who have a sizable budget.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $4900 (supplemental essays for 3 schools) – $7400 (supplemental essays for 10 schools)
  • Essay coach qualifications: mix of Ivy grads and former teachers, some writers/screenwriters; all trained

What we like:

  • Great free resources about the essay-writing process
  • Their Matchlighters Scholars Program gives back to the community by providing admissions consulting for select qualifying students

What we don’t like:

  • All-or-nothing packages have a high minimum fee and don’t work for students who want just a few hours of feedback or help with just part of the process

#4 – College Vine

Our Verdict — Best of the Big Platforms

Price: $170–190/hour

There are plenty of large platforms with large stables of part-time tutors and coaches available to work with students. Of these big platforms, we think CollegeVine has the best offerings. Compared to other large companies, CollegeVine provides more information about their tutors, and students can pick individual tutors to work with from their roster.

However, this model is really just a way of finding individual tutors to hire. Tutors don’t receive any training and don’t share a common approach, so it’s a mixed bag. Their rates are fairly high for part-time tutors who don’t have specific expertise and training in college essay consulting.

We also recommend working with college essay consultants with a clear code of ethics stating that they will not make edits directly on the essay documents for the students. It’s unclear to what degree the editors with CollegeVine follow these principles.

Best for:

Students who want to work with a big company.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $170–190/hour
  • Essay coach qualifications: no specific qualifications, but a few are Ivy League graduates

What we like:

  • Possible to select individual editors to work with from their roster

What we don’t like:

  • No training or common approach for tutors
  • Editors are part-time, with no option to work with full-time college admissions experts
  • Relatively expensive for this level of expertise

College Essay Editing Alternatives (that Didn’t Make the Cut)

Individual Essay Consultants

#5 – College Essay Editor

Our Verdict — Small Editing Team

Price: $4777 for application to 10 schools

College Essay Editor comprises two graduates of Stanford. This means that they have personal experience applying to highly competitive schools. One member of the team also has a college counseling certification, which is a good background for college essays.

Based on their website, they appear to focus on the editing and proofreading phase of the essay-writing process. This can be helpful to students, but we recommend working with a service who can help students to uncover their values and brainstorm really great material that allows them to really shine—and if this doesn’t happen at the beginning of the process, it’s much harder to add in later on.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $145/1000 words for proofreading, $395/1000 words for 3 rounds of editing and proofreading, or $495/1000 words for unlimited rounds of editing and proofreading; for the purposes of comparison, complete applications to 10 competitive colleges would be around 9,650 words, or $4777
  • Writing coach qualifications: Stanford graduates, one of which has college counseling certification

What we like:

  • Editors are graduates of Stanford University, and one is a member of NACAC, the national association of college counselors

What we don’t like:

  • They focus on editing and proofreading only, not on the crucial earlier steps of brainstorming and strategy
  • Small team with very limited availability

#6 – Allison Karpf

Our Verdict — Former English Teacher Helping Students

Price: $300/hour or $3000 package for application to one school

Another option for students looking to hire an individual consultant is Allison Karpf. Allison is a former high school English teacher and a graduate of UC Berkeley who also holds a Masters of Education from Stanford.

Her rates are definitely on the higher side, especially for someone who didn’t attend an Ivy-Plus school as an undergraduate herself and who doesn’t have a professional writing background, but she does have extensive experience working with students to craft their essays.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $300/hour or $3000 unlimited counseling (includes supplemental essays for one college)
  • Essay coach qualifications: former high school English teacher; Berkeley grad, Stanford MEd

What we like:

  • Lots of experience helping students improve their college essays
  • Very quick to respond to client requests

What we don’t like:

  • No professional writing experience or Ivy-Plus undergraduate experience
  • High rates relative to other options
  • Limited availability, since she works alone

#7 – Your College Vision

Our Verdict: Former Journalist with More Affordable Rates

Price: $150/hour (minimum 10 hours), or $3800 package for application to seven schools

Laurie Lande is another individual consultant who helps students through the essay-writing process. She comes recommended by other consultants like Chris from College Essay Mentor. Laurie did not herself attend a highly competitive school, so she doesn’t have that personal experience of going through the selective admissions process, but she does have a professional writing background as a journalist for the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $150/hour (for 10 hours), or $3800 package for application to seven schools
  • Essay coach qualifications: journalism background

What we like:

  • Affordable pricing, relative to other options
  • Professional writing background as a journalist for the Wall Street Journal

What we don’t like:

  • Not a graduate of a highly selective school
  • Limited availability, since she works alone

#8 – The College Guru

Our Verdict — Good on Paper but Unresponsive

Price: unknown

Yet another individual essay consultant is Geanine Thompson from The College Guru. Geanine attended Dartmouth as an undergraduate and also holds an MBA from Duke. She also has a professional writing background as an assistant book editor at Berkley Publishing Group.

Like Greg and Kevin at PrepMaven, she combines experience in the business world and at Wall Street firms with experience in education.

At a glance:

  • Cost: unknown
  • Essay coach qualifications: former assistant book editor; Dartmouth grad, Duke MBA

What we like:

  • Dartmouth graduate and former book editor

What we don’t like:

  • Not responsive to emails and client requests

student writing college essay on laptop

Mid-size Teams

#9 – College Essay Advisors

Our Verdict — No Highly-Selective Experience

Price: unknown

Also operating under the name Admissions Essay Advising, College Essay Advisors is a mid-size company which seems to have a good perspective on the essay process, and their chief advisor is a certified college counselor.

However, their editors are not from Ivy-Plus schools, so they don’t have the personal experience of going through the selective admissions process. They also don’t have professional writing experience.

At a glance:

  • Cost: unknown
  • Essay coach qualifications: no specific qualifications

What we like:

  • Clear about ethical standards—they’ll help guide students through the process but are clear that “students are responsible for getting the words on the page”
  • Chief Advisor is a member of NACAC, the national association of college counselors

What we don’t like:

  • Single round of proofreading, with no strategy
  • Uneven quality for editing services from a large pool of editors, who don’t have Ivy League experience
  • Secretive about pricing and details

#10 – Lotus Learning

Our Verdict — Focus on Health Sciences

Price: $165/hour

Founded by a Harvard grad who is a former teacher and veteran of the publishing industry, Lotus learning offers college essay help in the Boston area. They have a small team of tutors, mostly recent grads from good but not Ivy-Plus colleges, and mostly with focus in health sciences.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $165/hour (minimum 8 hours)
  • Essay coach qualifications: tutors are recent grads, but not Ivy-Plus schools

What we like:

  • Reasonable pricing with flexible packages

What we don’t like:

  • Essay editors aren’t graduates of Ivy-Plus schools and don’t have professional writing experience

Large platforms

#11 – Study Point

Our Verdict — Larger Platform with Mystery Editors

Price: unknown

Study Point is a larger essay editing service. They claim to have several decades of experience helping students to craft their college essays, but they do not give information about who their essay coaches are and what qualifications they might have.

At a glance:

  • Cost: unknown
  • Essay coach qualifications: unknown

What we like:

  • Larger company with several decades of experience

What we don’t like:

  • Unclear who the essay coaches are
  • Secretive about pricing

#12 – Ivy Select

Our Verdict — Larger Platform with Mystery Editors

Price: unknown

Ivy Select is another larger essay editing service. They do not give information about who their essay coaches are and what qualifications they might have.

At a glance:

  • Cost: unknown
  • Essay coach qualifications: unknown

What we don’t like:

  • No information on their website about who the editors are
  • No professional writing experience

#13 – Empowerly

Our Verdict — Larger Platform with Mystery Editors

Price: unknown

Empowerly has over 60 college counselors who each work with an average of 5 students per year, in order to have more time to devote to each student. Their counselors come from “different educational backgrounds,” and while they do not provide specific biographical details we can assume that most of their essay coaches did not attend highly selective schools.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $3550 minimum package
  • Essay coach qualifications: college counselors

What we like:

  • Counselors work with just a few students per year

What we don’t like:

  • No information on their website about who the editors are, and most did not attend highly selective schools
  • No professional writing experience

#14 – BeMo

Our Verdict — Expensive and Aggressive with Wrong Expertise

Price: $2997–12797

BeMo is a large admissions company based in Toronto, Canada. They focus primarily on admissions to medical schools and science graduate programs in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. Their rates are expensive, and they justify these by pointing out potential high earnings decades later as a doctor. Past customers have commented that their “school selection consultation” doesn’t provide any information specific to the individual student or schools.

They do provide a training process for their essay consultants, but their essay consultants do not have training as college counselors, do not have experience as professional writers, and did not attend Ivy-Plus schools. They have been known to be very aggressive with their marketing emails, and have included some strange language in their sales pitches that seems inappropriate for high school students.

At a glance:

  • Cost: €2997/silver (one hour consultation and then unlimited written essay review for one application, no supplemental essays), €4797/gold (one hour consultation and then unlimited written essay review, incl. supplemental essays for up to 10 schools; waitlist letter, scholarship applications), €8797/platinum (unlimited consults), €12797/titanium (unlimited consults)
  • Essay coach qualifications: unknown

What we like:

  • They have more of an international scope

What we don’t like:

  • No information on their website about who the editors are
  • High prices
  • Not focused on undergrad admissions

Top 40 College Essay Services Considered

  • PrepMaven
  • College Essay Editor
  • College Essay Advisors Admissions Essay Advising
  • The College Essay Guy
  • College Vine
  • College Essay Mentor
  • Study Point
  • BeMo
  • Allison Karpf
  • The College Guru
  • Lotus Learning
  • Ivy Select
  • Summit Prep
  • Sofia Zapiola
  • Empowerly
  • Ivy Global / New Summits
  • College Essay Solutions
  • Your College Vision
  • Essay Edge*
  • Scribbr*
  • Wordvice*
  • PaperTrue*
  • ServicEscape*
  • Wordy*
  • Enago*
  • Kibin*
  • Editage*
  • PapersForge*
  • PenCamp*
  • QuickWriter*
  • Scribendi*
  • JustEditMyEssay*
  • JustDoMyEsssay*
  • PaperHelp*
  • ExpertWriting*
  • EssayPro*
  • SpeedyPaper*
  • GradeMiners*
  • 99Papers*

* A number of services will edit essays directly for students, or even write portions of the essay for students. We do not condone this. Admissions officers can tell when essays have been written or edited by adults and this can have severe consequences. We have excluded these services from our reviews.

student writing college essay

Why are college application essays important?

Can a great college essay alone get you into Harvard?

No. You’ll need your grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities (as well as letters of recommendation and interview) to be outstanding.

But can a mediocre essay be the reason you didn’t get into Harvard?

Yes. There are thousands of amazingly-qualified students who graduate from high school each year. Great grades and test scores might be a prerequisite for admission to a competitive college, but they alone aren’t enough.

Harvard University
Harvard University

College essays are a key component of a student’s application. When done well, they transform a collection of numbers—GPA, class rank, SAT or ACT scores, number of AP classes taken, AP scores—into a glimpse of a real, individual person.

Essays do many things. Good college essays can highlight extracurricular achievements which otherwise would be overlooked in a sterile list. Strong essays often indicate the student’s future plans—how they plan to leave a mark on their college campus and on the world. They can shine a light on unique challenges that a student may have had to face on their journey.

College admissions officers only have a few minutes to spend on each application. College essays need to be original, interesting, and memorable. They need to grab the attention of the admissions officer and persuade them that this is the student out of hundreds or thousands of other similarly-qualified applicants who should be admitted.

College admissions essays are usually unlike any other kind of writing that students have done before. They’re a combination of memoir and marketing pitch, and they need to be creative but also highly strategic. That’s a tough assignment!

What’s more, students are left to figure this assignment out on their own. A thoughtful and generous high school English teacher may provide guidance or offer to read essays and give feedback, but these teachers are responsible for many students, and they’re (usually) not experts in admissions strategies.

Princeton University
Princeton University

Why work with a college essay service?

You may want to consider a college essay service if:

  • You have no idea where to start in order to write your college application essays
  • You feel overwhelmed by all of the different ideas you have and don’t know what would be the most strategic for college admissions—and what topics to definitely avoid for college essays
  • You don’t know how to craft a compelling story
  • You’re not sure how to edit and refine what you’ve written
  • You have a hard time keeping yourself on track and want an external structure to hold you accountable
  • You’re tired of conflict between students and parents about college essays
  • You’re aiming at a competitive college (not just the Ivy League!) and know that you need your essays to be outstanding
  • Your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars aren’t exceptional, so you need your essay to make your essay stand out from the pack
  • You’re unfamiliar with the US college admissions process (a common situation for international students and first-generation families in the US)

Any of these are strong reasons to consider working with a college essay service!

It’s important to note that a good college essay service will not write your college application essays for you. This is unethical and illegal. 

A good college essay service will guide you through each step of the process, teaching you how to self-reflect and write well while sharing insider insight about admissions strategy.

Yale University
Yale University

What makes a good college essay service?

We strongly believe that students need to write their own college essays, and we do not condone plagiarism or “buying” a college essay.

However, writing college application essays requires a completely new set of skills that is rarely taught in high school!

Writing a personal essay is much more creative than simply writing a good paper for English class. It requires a compelling narrative and a great deal of writing craft. A good essay service will teach how to do this kind of writing.

There are many college essay services that will provide only written feedback to students, usually in the form of comments added to an essay draft. (Remember, it’s important that students write their own essays, so avoid any college essay service that will make edits directly to an essay document.)

Written comments can be an effective component of good essay coaching. However, writing college essays is a deeply personal process, and it’s incredibly difficult to guide a student through the process of self-reflection, brainstorming, and planning purely through written comments.

In addition, a great college essay coach will teach students how to do this entire process of brainstorming, planning, outlining, writing, and revising. It’s difficult to learn why an essay coach is advising certain changes through written comments alone.

For these reasons, look for a college essay service with live, one-on-one services, not just written feedback. These days, it’s easy to work with the best college essay consultants in the country over Zoom!

college essay coaching service online

Students need to reflect on their goals, their passions, and what drives them to be the person they are. This requires a great deal of self-awareness and self-analysis. An experienced college essay coach can help draw these ideas out of students through tested introspection techniques and brainstorming exercises.

On top of all of that, students need to be cognizant of which traits and accomplishments will be most appealing to colleges, and which stories will be cliche and boring. Personal statements and supplementary essays need to fit together to tell a cohesive story, and they need to work together with the rest of the student’s application (extracurriculars, grades, and other accomplishments).

In other words, there’s a great deal of strategy here! An experienced college essay service can help students decide how to present themselves in the best possible light.

Furthermore, most students don’t know how to edit effectively. A really top-notch college essay service will also teach students how to edit their own writing—how to reorder sections for better flow, cut unnecessary words to meet a word count, eliminate passive verbs, and make their writing vivid and exciting. Our students are routinely amazed by how transformative this step can be, and how much they learn by doing it together with the essay coach.

Finally, the best college essay services can also help students to make a writing plan and keep them on track, so that parents don’t have to be involved directly.

Ready to work on your college essays? Schedule a free 15- to 30-minute consultation with Jessica or one of our founders.


Summary

Best overall: PrepMaven’s

Best for individual consultants:

Best for unlimited essay assistance:

Best of the big platforms:


Next steps

Ready to work on college essays with one of our experienced writing coaches? Schedule a free test prep consultation with Jessica (Director of Tutoring) or one of our founders to see what would be the best fit for your family.

It’s always best to start early and not wait until the last minute to write your college essays! Remember that essays can be used to earn scholarships as well as college admission, so a few months of writing now can pay off with up to $300,000 in tuition saved later. 

We work with students at all stages of the writing process, from I-have-no-idea-what-to-write to final edits. To start working with an Ivy-League writing coach today, set up a quick free consultation with our team.

Ivy League schools

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The 6 Princeton Supplemental Essays: How to Respond
How to Answer the Harvard Supplemental Essay Prompts
How Colleges Read Your Application: A 4 Step Process
What College Admissions Officers Look For: A Must-Read Guide

Emily

Emily graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and holds an MA from the University of Notre Dame. A veteran of the publishing industry, she has helped professors at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton revise their books and articles. Over the last decade, Emily has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay.