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Not long ago, I was trying to put together my own college essays to send to elite universities and a strange thing happened. Out of the countless drafts I’d written and revised with the help of my tutor/editor, all of them disappointingly not me, it finally clicked. I produced the final draft of my Personal Statement in fifteen minutes and then aced every supplemental essay thereafter in like fashion. What with having weak SAT Math scores, it was my writing that ultimately delivered acceptance letters from Columbia, Brown and more.  

Zak Aldridge

Columbia University '19

And that turning point carried further. At the end of my first year at Columbia, an essay I wrote was selected among hundreds of submissions to be published in the Morningside Review, an annual journal published by the Columbia Undergraduate Writing Program. Later I had an opinion piece published in the Columbia Spectator and while volunteering with the Urban Justice Center, I helped write, design and edit a research and advocacy report that was submitted to the New York City Council in the wake of a high-publicity arrest. Since then I’ve edited the autobiography of an American hitchhiker and occasionally publish on my blog uncanny (but true) stories from Kathmandu. 

What makes a wonderful college essay is communicating your truth. What makes a wonderful life is living your truth. We guide our students to notice and set free the story they have to tell, granting them acceptance to the school of their choice and a bridge to the future of their dreams. 

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Above all I learned that it’s a ritual of discovery, one that I’ve been on since high school when I wrote for local newspapers as a columnist, then later as a staff writer in my first summer back from Columbia University. While at college, an opinion piece of mine was published in the Columbia Spectator that grapples with the pressure to succeed even when we’re off the clock. After graduating in 2019, I worked in Morocco teaching English at a private language center where I continued to write on my blog and advise students privately in their writing.

Applying to college can be extremely stressful, but it can also be transformative. We’ll help you write your truth, find your voice, and enjoy the success you seek!

Few things can be as daunting as the blinking cursor on a blank page, especially when it’s an application to your dream college. How do I show my sincerity? How do I sculpt a body and voice for an application that is otherwise flat? All these questions rang in my mind not long ago, but with the help of some expert friends I transformed that blank screen into a compelling piece of writing that pushed open the door to my top choice schools.

Sam Aldridge

Columbia University '19


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