Writing Coach Helps Students with College Essay Tips

Posted: Updated: May 05, 2016 04:31 PM

EDINBURG — A writing coach shared her tips for getting into college with GEAR UP students.

Janine Robinson offers tips for writing college application essays on a site called “Essay Hell.” She said the name of the website is a metaphor for a place students don’t want to be in for too long.

Robinson said writing a college essay is hard work for some students who are trying to get into top-tier schools.

“Everybody knows when they have all these students with the same brilliant test scores, grades, extracurricular, they all start to look the same,” she said. “It's the essay often that is used by admissions officers to differentiate between the students and to pick which one they want at their school.”

Robinson said these types of essays are a different beast. They need to be more personal, and that’s why they’re called personal statements. She adds there are some tricks on learning how to sell personal stories and how to use them to showcase skills that set the student apart from others.

The writing coach said, “It can be really empowering because your stories, sometimes, they involve hardships or challenges or obstacles. And you think, ‘Oh I just need to show my impressive things to these schools.’ A lot of times, if you just show the things that you've had to wrestle with and overcome and deal with, then they understand how impressive it is, how far you've come.”

Robinson said every one of the students who attended the four-day workshop is ready to submit their college application essay.

“They’re all so impressive,” she said. “They are super bright and they are hard workers. They've been really focused, and what we're doing is helping them identify their personal stories.”

GEAR UP segments air on Thursdays on CHANNEL 5 NEWS at 5.