College Essays

Work online with our expert essay consultants on your college admissions essays


The college essay writing process can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.

Hello! We’re Kevin & Greg – brothers, Princeton grads, and the co-founders of PrepMaven and its sister company, Princeton Tutoring.

Since 2005, we’ve helped thousands of students get into their dream schools.

We created a structured methodology, based on a deep understanding of the admissions process, to guide students through the creative storytelling process.

We combine this with a team of world-class tutors that includes Harvard-educated Hollywood screenwriters, former admissions officers, and writing specialists.

We offer the kind of personalized help that big test-prep and college consulting companies just can’t. As a smaller boutique company, we take the time to match each student with their tutor based on specific goals, learning styles, and personality.

We also don’t require families to commit to large packages: whether you’re interested in support for all essays or just a handful, we’re here to help.


“I talked to around a dozen companies before zeroing in on PrepMaven/Princeton Tutoring.” 

N.P., Parent of 12 Grader

Coaching for ALL Types of Admissions Essays


Common App Essays


UC Personal Insight Questions


Supplemental Essays


Transfer & Scholarship Essays

How Does It Work?

Get matched with a perfect-fit essay tutor, often within a couple of days.


Free Consultation

Speak with a knowledgeable consultant who will learn about your specific needs, answer any questions, and develop a customized plan.

Select a Package

Select an initial package that fits your budget and goals. Start with a smaller 6 hr package or get a larger one to take advantage of discounted pricing.

Personalized Match

No impersonal algorithms here. During daily meetings, our team debates which tutors would be the best fit for you, based on a careful evaluation of student needs.

“He just read us the Sequoia essay and it’s awesome.”

A.S., Parent of 12 Grader

A Thoughtfully Designed Program

We cover everything from topic strategy…to techniques from literature and movies to inject more personality & emotion into essays… to advanced tactics to improve flow and style.


Strategy & Planning

We help you get started and develop a plan to write essays that will succeed in the admissions process, while staying on track and meeting goals/deadlines.

  • What the college essay is (& what it isn’t)
  • How admissions officers evaluate essays
  • Deciding which strengths and values to highlight in your essays
  • Learning from other successful essays + qualities of a great essay
  • Staying on track: setting goals and timelines for deliverables


Build your College Essay Writer’s Toolkit

You’ll learn powerful writing techniques that are specific to the college essay (and usually not taught in school).

  1. Classic essay structures and templates
  2. Writing for engagement and emotional response:
    • Crafting a narrative arc
    • Integrating internal and external conflict
    • Building a world through descriptive language
    • Creating suspense and unexpectedness
    • Using symbols and literary devices
    • Integrating introspection and reflection


Pre-Writing & Drafting

We use guided brainstorming, introspection, and planning exercises to help you select a topic, and you’ll begin working on themes and structure for the essay.

  • Introspection and Brainstorming Exercises: determining your most important values, experiences, and insights
  • Topic Selection: finding the topic best suited to tell your story and showcase your strengths
  • Outlining: defining a structure to frame your story


Revising & Polishing

We evaluate your draft & guide you through a structured methodology to further enhance content, structure, style, and language.

  1. Big picture evaluation:
    • Does the essay tell the right message about you to the admissions committee?
    • What does the essay do well?
    • Where does it fall short?
  2. Structural Review:
    • Intro: Does the essay start in a way that sets up the main idea without giving too much away?
    • Transitions: Does each paragraph flow smoothly from the preceding one?
    • Body Paragraphs: Does each paragraph clearly describe a specific moment or articulate a specific point?
    • Conclusion: Does the essay end in a way that captures the main idea without feeling repetitive or unnecessary?
  3. Language and Style:
    • Improving word choice and varying sentence structure
    • Incorporating literary devices and enhancing descriptive language
    • Grammar and Proofreading
  4. Pruning (if necessary)
    • Making sure the essay adheres to word count limits
    • Eliminating parts of the essay that are unnecessary or take away from its message

“Hudson truly enjoyed working with you and is saddened to part ways. We are, collectively as a family, eternally grateful for such a phenomenal experience learning from the best of the best.”

C.V., Parent of 12 Grader

How Are We Different?

We care… about providing the highest-quality experience for our families… and about providing a rewarding experience for our tutors & employees. This drives everything that we do.

Deep Experience

We’ve been doing this since 2005
We think about college admissions all day, every day.

And we’ve learned a lot in the past 20 years.

We’ve taken the most effective strategies and techniques to create our college essay program.

But we don’t just rest on our achievements.

We regularly conduct research & collaborate with other experts (e.g. admissions officers, professional writers, writing teachers) to continually enhance our program.


Hi, I’m Ally 🙂 I’m a Princeton grad, taught HS English for several years, and am an award-winning journalist.

Exceptional Essay Consultants

Work with storytelling experts who are highly skilled at helping students uncover their best essay.
Our co-founders are Princeton grads who’ve developed relationships with student and alumni communities at Ivy League and Ivy+ institutions over the last 20 years.

Our pool of tutors, the majority of whom are from these selective communities, know first-hand what it takes to succeed in the admissions process.

But credentials alone aren’t enough – our tutors are exceptional writing coaches who have been carefully vetted and trained, and they know how to connect with students and bring out their best essays.



Former Brown admissions reader, 20+ yrs teaching English, Teaches other teachers how to write


Harvard English major, Hollywood screenwriter, Sold her 1st screenplay while in college


Yale MFA, Former college instructor, Playwright & Grammy award nominee


We’re known for ensuring a stellar student & customer experience.
As a small company, every single family is important to us.

Families put their trust in us & we don’t take this responsibility lightly.

This care – and the resulting referrals – is what has helped us steadily grow over the years & helped us come out of COVID even stronger.

We also back everything up with our Satisfaction Guarantee:

If you’re not happy with any session, whether it’s the first or the 20th, let us know and the next hour is on us. And if things still aren’t working out, which is rare, we’ll happily refund your unused balance.


I’m Elizabeth, and I support our families & tutors 🙂

“The girls have shared their essays with multiple people and the feedback has been fabulous.”

C.V., Parent of 12 Grader


Good things happen when you combine deep expertise with the world’s best tutors + throw in an unrelenting focus on customer service.


Google Ratings


Unsolicited Testimonials

> 70%

of our families are referrals

We don’t guarantee admissions to particular schools.


Because that’s not possible.


But we do significantly improve student chances w/ well-crafted essays.


Our students regularly get admitted to their top-choice schools.


And, yes, they’ve also been admitted to all of the Ivy+ schools.

What Our Students Say

The best part of our job is that we get messages like these all the time.

Hope all is well with you. Caris is attending Harvard University. Thanks for all of your assistance.

I GOT INTO CORNELL EARLY DECISION WHOOP WHOOP 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉I am now Cornell bound. Now I have time to play Suzerain because there are no more applications to do.

Our tutor Emma, was positively incredible in helping each of my daughters craft compelling personal statements and essays that underscored their individual personal and academic strengths. She was kind, patient, responsive, attentive, and supportive. Frankly, my daughters could not have gotten through or organized themselves to successfully complete the process of writing several essays for several schools without her. 10+!!!

I also wanted to share my thoughts on my student’s experience… In short – it was Fantastic! Not only did Colin experience tremendous results (he was admitted to Dartmouth, Cornell, UChicago, Northwestern, UC Berkeley and Stanford, and was waitlisted at Harvard and Princeton), he also grew as a writer tremendously….We honestly believe he engaged in a mini master class in advanced writing and it will pay off for years to come.

Katherine is attending Upenn this year. Thank you for your hard work to arrange tutors for her the year before, and thanks to those dedicated tutors.

Sydney enrolled in the NYU Stern School of Business this fall. Her #1 choice! Brandon was fantastic!

Nico was perfectly matched with my son to help with his college app essay writing. He was so patient and able to draw a lot of information out of a fairly shy kid, which did wonders for the essay content. He also offered great suggestions during the sessions for keeping the essay focused, compelling and genuine. Nico and the rest of the PrepMaven/Princeton tutoring team professionally and swiftly under a time crunch. Five stars is not enough.

Jackie REALLY values your help and input. You’re helping keep what could easily be a really stressful and unnerving time, especially on top of the workload at Lawrenceville, smooth and seamless… I know she takes comfort in having you there to “put the cherry on top” of her applications and will rest well at night knowing that, with your help, she’s done everything possible to present herself for admission in the absolute best way possible!

She got into her dream school, Carnegie Mellon, on early decision. Much appreciate what your company and wonderful tutors did for her.

Gregg got into his number 1 school. He started at the University of Southern California last week. He is thrilled. Please thank Greg for all his help and support with the essays.

Thank you! I read over the essay and I love it. It brings me back to each one of those experiences that I can remember Kaitlyn telling me about over the years.

Thank you so much – she was feeling stuck and emerged quite chipper from your working session!

I wanted to share the good news. Mina made to Cornell. We are extremely happy. Thanks for your support since 8th grade.

My tutor helped me get into my dream school by helping me with my common app essay! He was super helpful and awesome and I would definitely recommend PrepMaven/Princeton tutoring for college essay help. Thank you!

My son worked with Nathnael on his essays over the summer. It was such a stress relief for me to be able to get this support as it kept my son on track and his essays all ready in time for the start of the school year…I can easily say that the composition of essay is truly a strength in his application and that he was only able to complete this with the help of Nathnael. We are forever grateful.

I hope you are doing well! I wanted to check in and let you know that I received my acceptance from UT this evening!! I really appreciate all the help you gave me with my essays, you were amazing.

… and many more.

Frequently Asked Questions

When you hear the term “college essay”, it usually refers to the “Personal Statement”.

This is the most important essay because it can be reused for multiple schools.

The Personal Statement is also commonly referred to as the “Common App Essay”.

Even if you’re applying to schools that don’t accept the Common App and instead require a different application (e.g. Coalition Application, Universal College Application, UC Schools), each application will have its own version of the “Personal Statement”.

In summary… “College Essay” = “Personal Statement” = “Common App Essay” = “Coalition Essay”.

Additionally, each school might also require that you also submit “Supplemental” essays (e.g. “Why X School”?). These essays require a different approach.

The college essay is simply ONE piece of the puzzle.

And while an important piece, rarely will even an AMAZING college essay make up for lackluster GPAs or test scores.

For rising seniors, there’s not much that can be changed in terms of GPA.

Standardized testing, ideally, will be done by the end of junior year as well (there should still be chances to take the tests in the fall/early winter if need be).

The college essay is usually the last remaining part of the application that you can still impact.

IF you’re targeting more selective or smaller liberal arts schools… the college essay usually will be VERY important.

IF you’re targeting larger state schools or less selective schools…the college essay usually will be LESS important.

IF your grades and test scores are below average for your target school… consider spending more effort on your essay.

Conversely, IF your grades and test scores are above average for your target school… you have a little more breathing room with regards to your essay.

IF your target school has gone test optional… then every other part of the application, including the college essay, becomes a little more important.

Admissions officers look for students of exceptional potential who will become successful leaders.

How do you classify a student of exceptional potential? We’ve boiled it down to three pillars.

1 – Academic Achievement

Colleges are first and foremost academic institutions, so high school academic achievement is the number one quality that colleges seek in applicants. This pillar includes GPA, course rigor, and standardized test scores.

2 – Extracurricular Distinction

Students of exceptional potential don’t just achieve inside the classroom – they distinguish themselves outside the classroom as well.

Why? Because colleges want to know that you will contribute to their community and that you will enhance the experience and education of your classmates.

They want you to inspire your classmates, influence each other, challenge each other, help and learn from each other.

3 – Character & Personal Qualities

Colleges seek out students with remarkable personal qualities such as character, personality, intellectual curiosity, and creativity.

We define “character” to consist of 3 major components:

Values – what is important to you
Morals – what is right and wrong
Principles – guiding beliefs

Colleges try to understand your character through your actions (your academic and extracurricular achievements), what other people say about you (recommendations), and your stories (essays).



Many schools have Nov 1st deadlines for Early Action/Decision & Jan 1st deadlines for Regular Decision.

However… deadlines might vary for each school.

Some examples (2024-2025):

Later Deadlines – Georgetown’s Regular Decision deadline is Jan 10th, UW Madison’s is Jan 15th, etc…

Earlier Deadlines – UT Austin’s Early Action deadline is Oct 15th & their Regular Decision deadline is Dec 1st

UC Schools – The deadline for all students applying to University of California schools is Nov 30th (there is no distinction between “Early” vs “Regular”).

Arts Portfolios – You might have earlier OR later deadlines if submitting an arts portfolio. Stanford bumps UP the deadlines, while Princeton keeps their same deadlines but gives you an additional 5 to 7 days to submit your portfolio.

Specific Programs – Regular Decision deadline for University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance program is Dec 1st (vs Feb 1st for their other programs)

Rolling Admissions – Penn State has rolling admissions for regular decisions starting Aug 1st

And so on…

Give Yourself a 1 Month Buffer

You’ll certainly want to research the specific deadlines for each of your target schools.

Until then, you can use a shortcut & simply give yourself a 1 month buffer:

Early Action deadlines are mostly Nov 1st… so set an internal deadline of Oct 1st.

Regular Decision deadlines are mostly Jan 1st… so set an internal deadline of Dec 1st.

Targeting earlier submission dates will ensure you avoid scrambling to complete your applications, but is particularly useful if you decide to apply last-minute to another school/program with earlier deadlines.

Finish Your College Essays in the Summer (if possible)

Just because deadlines are later in the year does NOT mean you should wait to start your college essays.

Some students like to wait until the Common App & Coalition App officially release their essay prompts in August.

But there’s no need for that.

Essay topics are virtually unchanged from year to year.

We advise all our families to start the college essay process in early summer with the goal of completing their Personal Statement by the end of August.

This is 100% doable if you make it a priority.

What if summer has already come and gone? No worries! Start your essays ASAP.

In general, most students require 8 to 12 hrs of support to finalize their common app personal statement.

If we’re also helping w/ supplemental essays, our students average 12 to 16 hrs of support in total (common app + supplements).

Of course, some students need less and some students, especially those that feel very stuck, can need a lot more.


My name is Jess. My team is looking forward to speaking with you!

Let's Get Started

Searching online for a service provider is exhausting. You’ve come to the right place.
Work with experienced and trusted advisors… and create a a polished draft that you’ll be proud of.

In less time and with less stress.

Our students have an overwhelmingly positive experience. We’re confident yours will too.

We’d love to learn more about your student and see how we might be able to help!

We don’t lock families into expensive $10,000 comprehensive packages.

Our pricing starts at 85, ~166, and ~349/hr, depending on the tier of tutor. And our smallest package is only 6 hrs.

Contact us today!

To learn more or to inquire about tutoring, please fill out our form.

Alternatively, feel free to call us at 609-945-2264 or 888-402-2444 (Mon – Fri, 8AM – 8PM ET).  FYI, PrepMaven and Princeton Tutoring are sister companies.

After filling out the form, a member of our team will reach out to gather more information & answer any questions.

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