writing the why this college essay

She’s back! After a month away, Beth Heaton has returned to the mic! On the latest episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, Beth hosted two phenomenal guests—Jessica Elberfeld and Kara Courtois—to discuss two vastly different topics—undergraduate debt repayment and college-specific supplemental essays.

Paying Off $100k+ in Debt

In the first segment, Jessica Elberfeld joined Beth to discuss her success in paying off $113,000 in undergraduate debt in just under seven years. Even though Jessica spent the first two years of her undergraduate education at a tuition-free community college, Jessica accrued a significant amount of debt when she transferred to Belmont University for the final two years of her degree. Jessica’s initial approach to paying down her debt was to pay off the interest; but when the principal came due, she knew she had to start setting aside more money. In this segment, Jessica dives deep into her spending plan with Beth, discussing what she “gave up” to make her plan work—and whether or not she’d take out those loans again!

Supplementary Essays

In the second segment Kara Courtois, former admissions officer at Barnard College and College Coach educator, joined Beth to discuss how parents can (and can’t) help their students write college essays. Their top tip? Don’t start by having your child read other students’ successful college essays! Kara and Beth discussed not only how to approach the personal statement in this segment, but also how to approach school-specific essay prompts, like the dreaded “Why do you want attend X college?” prompt.

All in all, last week’s episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation should be on your “can’t miss!” list.


Written by Abigail Anderson
Abigail Anderson is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts. Abigail received her bachelor’s in sociology from Colby College. Prior to joining College Coach, Abigail worked as a senior admissions officer at Reed College and Emma Willard School. Visit our website to learn more about Abigail Anderson.