Getting into College the "Write" Way

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Qualified applicants can beat the odds on getting into the most selective colleges and universities by focusing on the area where individualism can really come through: the college admissions essay. Alan Gelb, author of the bestselling book Conquering the College Admissions Essay in 10 Steps, has helped his audience understand that the way to a winning college admissions essay lies in discovering your authentic voice.

Admission to colleges and universities in the United States is more selective than ever. The pool of applicants is larger, with over 100,000 foreign applications to U.S. schools alone, and many students who in years past would have gained entrance to the Ivy League are now vying for admission to second- and third-tier universities. With such competition, what can student applicants do to improve their chances of acceptance? According to essay coach and top selling Amazon author, Alan Gelb, college applicants can focus on an element of the application package that is often overlooked in importance — the essay.

In his book, Conquering the College Admissions Essay in 10 Steps, (Ten Speed Press, 2008) Gelb states, "With so many applicants claiming outstanding grades, SATS, and extracurricular achievements, the essay becomes a point of differentiation and an opportunity to stick in the mind of the admissions person." In fact, a recent survey from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling stated that the essay was the fifth most significant factor in determining one's chances of acceptance at a school, right after grades, test scores, and class rank and ahead of recommendations and extracurricular activities.

Gelb's strategy has struck a chord with many, which may explain why the book has regularly ranked in the top 10 of all college admission books on Amazon. In fact, the book has expanded Gelb's college essay coaching practice and now, with phone sessions, email, and Skype, he is serving clients throughout the U.S. and around the world.

"I find it particularly gratifying that the students I work with not only end up with compelling personal narratives, but have been admitted to top schools like Stanford, Brown, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, and Swarthmore," says Gelb. "At the end of the process, these young people have found an authentic voice, which allows them to claim complete ownership over their essays and feel good about what they've written."

Gelb has also written The Complete Student: Achieving Success in College and Beyond (Thomson International), and is an independent marketing consultant for colleges and universities. His novels and nonfiction have been published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, E.P. Dutton, St. Martin’s Press, Dell, and Avon, and he has contributed articles to The New York Times Magazine, Parents Magazine, and others. For more information on Gelb's college essay coaching practice, visit


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