What is the College Essay Process Like?
What is the Skill Like?
At Vohra, we focus on the skills you need to write all of the many college essays, short answers, and supplemental essays.
You’ve probably read brilliant college essays about something as minor as tying your shoes, and really boring and tedious essays about winning a national debate competition or science fair. Those brilliant essays about minor topics aren’t just lucky. They are demonstrations of a well developed set of thinking and writing skills.
With our training program, you’ll learn how to write those casually ingenious essays on any topic - major or minor. If you develop the college essay skill, you can write a great essay about wrapping gifts, seeing a zebra, taking a nap, sitting on a couch, fighting with a sibling, building a robot, pens, dogs, tires, Socrates, colors, dreams, the ocean - literally any topic will work. Just as you can probably solve any two step linear equation on earth pretty easily, you will be able to write a college essay on any topic just as easily.
On the other hand, if you haven’t developed that skill, you probably can’t write a great essay on any topic! You could write an essay about the time you won the Nobel Prize, and it won’t be powerful enough.
As you master these skills, you’ll realize what all admissions officers and college strategists know: the topic doesn’t really matter. A great essay does not come from some particular topic. It comes from clever execution of any topic. To quote Ella Fitzgerald: It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.
Get in Touch
You don't need a first draft before contacting us.
Start as Early as You Can
For college strategy, the earlier you start, the more likely it is you'll get into your first choice college, even if it's a "reach" school.
Rising Seniors must start before June 30th.
Get in touch today to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.
$150/hr with Chelsey Snyder, College Essay Curriculum Developer or Founder Arvin Vohra
The Overall Process
The first time you solved an equation was probably harder than the 500th time you solved a similar equation. Similarly, your first few essays and exercises will be the hardest. But, it gets easier and easier. Some of our students get so good, they end up experimenting with several main essays in order to find the best one. They’re so good at writing essays, they can just write another one or two and compare!
Phase 1: Learning to Think Cleverly
This is the hardest part, where students learn to move away from the boring, hokey, obvious concepts most high achievers write, and on to the exciting, mind-blowing ideas that will wow application committees.
Phase 2: Learning to Write Effectively
This is the second hardest part. Most students are attached to very flowery, verbose, and boring styles of writing (taught almost exclusively in public and private schools). We have to break those habits and create new ones. Varied sentence length, vivid narrative, tiny moments, show don’t tell. It may sound easy, but get ready for a lot of drafts.
Phase 3: Writing a lot of Essays
In this phase, we draft out various ideas you’ve come up with. We try them out with different essay prompts and experiment with what sounds most intense and unexpected. This phase is not the final phasing of writing. It is a very important experimental phase of the process where you truly explore the best ways to show your brilliance to your future college.
Phase 4: External Review
When the essays have reached a point where they are solidly presentable, we subject them to ruthless external review. You share the essays with your parents, teachers, friends, whoever. You get feedback from the people who know you the best. And then, you make edits and rewrite the essay based on that feedback.
Phase 5 (Optional): Interview Preparation
Our interview training goes far beyond what you'll see anywhere else. We'll work on everything from vocal control and posture to how to control the direction of the conversation and create rapport.
Our interview training program has been used for McKinsey candidates, political candidates, and medical school candidates, in addition to college applicants. Your training will build on the profile development and clever thinking skills you worked on in the early phases.
Q: Do I need to have a draft or essay idea before I come in?
A: Definitely not! Most of the draft essays that students come in with are nowhere near the required standards, and are generally immediately scrapped. Also, because people tend to get emotionally attached to things they’ve worked on, the original essay becomes and anchor that slows progress.
You don’t need to have already solved a bunch of equations before your first algebra class. You don’t need to have any completed or started essays before your first college essay class.
You’re here to learn a powerful skill that you will use to write the several essays required as part of the process. You don’t need any completed work done beforehand.
Q: How long does it take?
A: If you’re intense about learning this new skill and ready to give it 110%, then a few months. If you’re planning to laze around in the pointless hope that we’ll write the essay for you, then it will take several years and you will definitely, guaranteed miss your first deadline (and possibly future deadlines).
Q: My essay absolutely has to be in by next week can you write it for me please?
A: No. Also you can apply during a later deadline, including the midyear deadline, next fall, next spring, etc.
The proximity of a deadline to which a student is emotionally attached won’t affect our policy at all. We help students develop college essay writing skills. We don’t write essays for them. There are no exceptions.
The Vohra Pledge
We will do everything we can to help you develop the skills you need to write your college essays. We’re quite good at it - most of our students get into their first choice colleges (which are generally top tier Ivies or combined medical programs).
However, we will never write your essays for you.
If you’ve worked with a writing tutor before, there’s a good chance that you’ve figured out a trick: if you stall until the last minute and act helpless, the tutor will basically write the paper for you. Many math and science tutors do the same.
If your essay isn’t ready by the deadline, you’ll just miss the deadline. If you miss the early deadline, you can apply during the regular deadline. If you miss the regular deadline, you can apply during the midyear deadline. If you miss that deadline, you can apply next fall. However, even if 10 years go by, we won’t write your essay for you. If you want to learn the skill that will help you produce world class essays and dominate your interviews, we’re the best place anywhere for that.
Fair warning: the essays you write with the skills you develop at Vohra will be much, much better than any essay written by a college essay writing service.