TeenLife Blog

Supporting teen success, one post at a time

Author: Elly Swartz

Elly Swartz is the founder of The Essay Adviser, a writer, a lawyer, and a former teacher of Legal Research and Writing at Boston University School of Law. Elly helps navigate the application process, and is dedicated to providing personalized application and essay advisory services for college, graduate school and independent secondary school through individual advising and group workshops.

Posted Sept. 6, 2019, 10 a.m. by Elly Swartz | View Comments
college application writing tips

You sit on your bed, at your desk and in the library wondering where to begin your college admissions essay. It’s not like there’s a Google map showing you how to go from here to there. How do you dig through 17 years of experiences and select the one that shares your voice, your vision, your passion? Was it when you sat behind Grandpa’s dented old Buick the day you got your license, or the time you figured out how to rig your book to the shower door without getting it soggy so you could finish the last chapter of ...

Posted May 29, 2015, 8 a.m. by Elly Swartz | View Comments
Get it Done Over the Summer: 9 Tips to Tackling the College Essay

The college essay looms dark and foreboding like the legend of the Loch Ness Monster. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a path to tackling the monster and the essay. And, it begins in the heat of the summer. I promise you that this is possible even if you’re working as a barista, attending sports camp, or volunteering at a school in Peru. All you need is some planning and guidance and you’ll be on your way to walking into your senior year with the first draft of your college essay complete. So, here are some ...

Posted Dec. 9, 2014, 10 a.m. by Elly Swartz | View Comments
After you applied to college

You’ve just hit send on your early college applications and done the requisite victory dance around the kitchen. Truly, there is much to celebrate and be proud of. However, once the music stops and the dance is done, what now? There is a plethora of information and guidance on how to create the college list, fill out the applications, create the activities resume, apply for financial aid, and draft the ever-so-important college essays, but there is little input on what happens after you hit send. Here are a few tips to guide you through the college application process after you’ve ...

Posted Aug. 12, 2014, 10 a.m. by Elly Swartz | View Comments
start the college essay

The e-mail in your inbox from your college counselor, the back-to-school commercials, and the three college road trips you’ve endured listening to Mom’s playlist, strongly suggest it’s time to start writing your college admissions essay. It’s not that you haven’t thought about it. In fact, I bet you’ve thought about it on the bus ride home from soccer, in the shower between lather and rinse, and right before you fell asleep last night. Ideas are percolating, but now that it’s time to actually put the words on the page. The only problem, you’re stuck. You can’t seem to string together ...

Posted July 16, 2014, 12:32 p.m. by Elly Swartz | View Comments
Teen Graduating

“I’ve got it.” The three words spoken by college bound students hundreds of times to thousands of parents when asked about the college application process. This exchange is often followed by an eye roll, a sigh, or a very loud silence. You know the kind I mean, it awkwardly bounces off the doors of the car and lands like a brick in your lap. The result. The student is annoyed. You as the parent or care-giver extraordinaire are frustrated. The stress in the car rises exponentially. As a college application adviser and mom of two college students, I understand the ...

Posted June 30, 2014, 11 a.m. by Elly Swartz | View Comments
9 Tips on Making the Most of Your College Visit

You pile in the car with Mom, little brother, and a solid playlist to spend a few days visiting colleges on your list. By the time you leave College #1, you realize you should have mapped your route differently. Two hours later than anticipated, you arrive at College #2, and it’s pouring. You get out of the car in your sandals (no raincoat) just in time for the tour (despite your extended car ride), but the tour is full. You didn’t sign up ahead of time and the next one isn’t until tomorrow. I promise, there is a better way ...

Posted June 17, 2014, 10 a.m. by Elly Swartz | View Comments
6 Tips to Tackle Writer’s Block & Start the College Essay

You hear the tick of the clock and the whir of the dishwasher as your house sleeps and you stare at your blank screen. Mom and Dad turned in a while ago, followed shortly by your older brother. Your eyes are tired, but you’re meeting with your college counselor tomorrow morning to go over the college essay topics that remains unwritten. You’re supposed to be finding your voice and sharing your story, but all your thoughts are stuck. No worries. I can help you unblock. As a writer and a college application adviser, I know a few tricks that have ...

Posted May 7, 2014, 11 a.m. by Elly Swartz | View Comments
5 Tips on Starting the College Essay

Junior year is almost behind you and the college essay looms on the horizon. Its importance has been shared with you in meetings with your college counselor, in the too-many-to-count information sessions, and, of course, in family discussions over lasagna at the dinner table. You’re told this is where you can share your voice, tell your story, and make a difference in the eyes of admissions officers. You stare at your blank screen and wonder where to start. How do you dig through eighteen years of experiences and select the one that shares your voice, your vision, and your passion? ...

Posted Jan. 21, 2014, 11:54 a.m. by Elly Swartz | View Comments
6 Tips to Reduce Junior Year Stress

You’ve heard about the dreaded, yet, legendary junior year since your first day of high school.The year where your homework is relentless, your test schedule out of control, and everything matters. College is on the horizon and you feel the weight of every decision. It all feels so overwhelming. I understand. Truly, I do. As the mom of two sons who recently went through the process, and as an essay adviser with many students applying to college, I’m well versed on the stress that stems from junior year. Here are a few tips to reduce the stress and help embrace ...

Posted Jan. 21, 2014, 10:53 a.m. by Elly Swartz | View Comments
5 Tips for Editing Your College Essay

Congratulations! You’ve completed the first draft of your college admissions essay. You do the requisite victory dance around your room because you're finally finished with your essay! You tell your mom, dad, college counselor and essay advisor that you have finished your college essay. High-fives fly. Then you share your essay. Everyone is certainly proud, but the consensus is that you’re not quite done. It’s important to realize this wonderful tapestry of words is the foundation for the house, but not the house itself. It needs polishing, details, stories and, of course, spell-check. Here are 5 revision tips to help ...