writing college essays

On the latest episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, Ian Fisher was back in the host chair reminding us that, with students heading back to school this month, the nearness of college application season is inarguable.

Inside the Admissions Office: Drexel University and Swarthmore College

This behind the scene look was brought to you by Kennon Dick, who spent many years working as an admission officer at both schools. Kennon began with a very brief overview laying out how these two schools, geographic proximity aside, are nearly polar opposites. One is large with a great co-op program allowing you to combine you career aspirations with your academic path. The other is a quite small and quintessential liberal arts college focused on the life of the mind. Kennon talked about where in the application he looked to determine intellectual fit at Swarthmore and gave some great tips on how students might want to approach the supplemental writing questions and the Early Decision deadline. Before ending the segment, they also talked about the role of the “Fast App” at Drexel and its impact on the enrollment management process. That led to a fascinating conversation on the shifting focus from fit to admitting the students most likely to accept an offer of admission.

Getting Started on College Essay Writing

Karen Spencer was back on the show to talk about how to know what to write your college essay about. Spoiler alert: You don’t—at least not just yet. Karen and Ian walked through the brainstorming process and how to get at the crux of the narrative you want to deliver. Karen shared her favorite tools to use when trying to uncover that core message and explained the differences between expository writing and a personal narrative. She revealed some of her favorite prompts which can help get your juices flowing. Speaking of prompts, they didn’t leave you without answering whether or not it matters which prompt you choose.

Tuition Contributions from Grandparents

If you were hoping to get tips on how to solicit such contributions, you will be disappointed… On the other hand, if you’re lucky enough to have a grandparent to help with the cost of college, Tara Piantanida-Kelly joined Ian with the answers on the various pieces to consider. Tara unpacked the potential implications on your need-based aid eligibility, what you can do to retain that eligibility, and what strategies to employ to minimize the tax burden for this gift. Ian asked some great questions on the ideal timing for these gifts and all agreed we would like to have this hypothetical grandma contribute to our children’s college tuition.

Be sure to download our next episode, when we dive into the new updates for the 2017-2018 Common Application, and more.


Written by Tova Tolman
Tova Tolman is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Prior to joining College Coach, Tova worked in admissions at Fordham University, Montclair State University, and Barnard College. Visit our website to learn more about Tova Tolman.