People tell you that the Common Application essay is a personal narrative.

But it’s not. It’s really a strategic marketing document masquerading as a personal narrative.



During the past five years, the number of students applying to top tier public and private liberal arts colleges and universities has increased by one-third or more. At the same time, admit rates have dwindled. For example, Brown University, University of Chicago, Harvard University, Yale University, and Dartmouth University all reported record low admission rates for the Class of 2023.


But it’s not just elite colleges that are reporting record low admission rates. During the past ten years, California Polytechnic State University at San Louis Obispo saw a 53% increase in the number of applications; last year, the university rejected 13,000 students who had earned GPAs of 4.0 or better.


In today’s hypercompetitive environment, top SAT/ACT scores and GPAs are no longer enough to get you into college. Those objective measures will get you considered, but it is the softer, more subjective parts of your application that end up sealing the deal.


That’s where we come in.


During the past 15 years, over 90% of our students have gained admission to at least one of their top-tier schools.


How do we do it?


We work with you at every stage of the application process. This includes helping you build a strategic and balanced college list, brainstorming college essay topics, writing and revising essays, building and designing impactful extracurricular lists, choosing letter recommenders, and disclosing learning disabilities (LDs).



“Our son had his heart set on NYU-Stern. But he only had a 3.2 GPA and a 1470 on the SAT. But Susan showed him how to write amazing essays. In fact, his English teacher said Srikar’s essay was the best he’d ever read! He got into NYU-Stern ED as well as UCLA and USC!”

Punitha and Sriram, West Windsor, NJ parents of NYU-Stern freshman



Starting in ninth grade, Dr. Osborn identifies areas of improvement that will help you maximize your admissions chances, and she works with you to identify limiting beliefs that may be holding you back.

Because it takes time to build an admissions-winning course load and extracurricular profile, Dr. Osborn encourages students to start planning at least two years prior to application deadlines. For a detailed, year-to-year guide to all WCP’s college prep services for high schoolers, click here.


Straight assessment of your application profile and career goals, within the context of the college admissions process and as seen by admissions officers.

If there are weaknesses in your application profile, Dr. Osborn shows you how to use the time left to develop those areas into assets that will add value to your application and boost admissions chances.


Dr. Osborn helps you identify the stories that best illustrate who you are, and that will best sell you to the colleges on your list.

In addition, she works with you to develop narrative arcs that are compelling, cohesive, and distinctive without compromising your original voice and intention. She works with you on every step of the process, from brainstorming through writing, strategic rewriting, editing, polishing, and proofreading. Her work with you doesn’t stop until you click “submit.”

Dr. Osborn also shows you how to exploit the opportunities presented in the supplemental essays to make sure that your responses increase your value and boost admissions chances.


An extracurricular list that is clear, concise, and that showcases what you bring to your future college work is essential. Therefore, your extracurricular list needs to be strategized as carefully as your essays.

Dr. Osborn shows you how to highlight competitive advantages, how to turn weaknesses into strengths, and how to upload impactful descriptions of your activities into the Common App activities section.


Dr. Osborn helps you pick the right recommenders and show you how to help them write compelling letters that highlight your strengths and advance your candidacy.


Dr. Osborn works with you to create interview talking points that will help you make an admissions-winning impression.


Dr. Osborn shows you how to increase your odds of getting off a college waitlist and onto the admitted list.

For more information about Dr. Osborn’s background, credentials, and approach to college counseling, click here.

Schedule your free 20-minute phone consultation with Dr. Osborn to learn how The Writing Center of Princeton can help boost your child’s admissions chances.

The Writing Center of Princeton works with students and college applicants from all over the world via Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, Google docs, and phone.

What Makes Us Different from Other College Admissions Experts?

1. Experience 

Dr. Osborn is a veteran educator and college counselor who has worked in Admissions at Vassar College, in the Writing Program and English Department at Rutgers University, in the lab at The New Jersey Center for Research on Writing, and as a private tutor.

In addition to her degree work, she has completed graduate work at Columbia University’s Teachers College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Bank Street College of Education.

Dr. Osborn is also an acclaimed and award-winning fiction, popular, and academic writer.

2. Personalized Service

Dr. Osborn helps you identify and clarify your college admission goals. At the same time, she nurtures and designs your application strategy and a plan of action based on what best fits your time frame, your personality, your schedule, and your college aspirations.

3. Set Your Own Schedule

Dr. Osborn doesn’t like package plans and she knows you don’t either. WCP doesn’t offer them and never has. You are free to schedule as many or as few appointments as you wish.

4. Unlimited, 7-day a Week Text Support with Dr. Osborn

Once you sign on with Dr. Osborn, you are welcome to text her whenever you wish, about whatever questions and concerns you have related to your college application strategy, plan, and essays.

5. Emotional Support

Applying to college (or independent school) can be emotionally difficult and often puts a strain on a family. One of Dr. Osborn’s most important responsibilities is to be here for you and your child and she takes that responsibility very seriously. Whether you need to vent or just need to talk things over, you can rely on her.

Two things really impressed me about Susan. First, her intelligence. She’s wicked smart, she knows what she’s doing, and she doesn’t waste time. Second, she’s incredibly personable. She really got me to dig deeper into myself and my personal goals, and then she collaborated with me on all steps of the process—from brainstorming my essays through the final edits. It was an absolute pleasure working with her. BTW, she also has a wicked sense of humor.

Ashok, University of Pennsylvania freshman from Princeton, NJ


Some of the Colleges to Which Our Students Have Been Admitted

Alfred University
Amherst College
Barnard College
Boston College
Boston University
Brandeis University
Brown University
Bucknell University
Cal Tech
Cambridge University
Carnegie Mellon University
Case Western Reserve University
Catholic University of America
Chapman University, Argyros School of Business
Clark University
Colby College
Columbia University
Connecticut College
Cornell University
Dartmouth University
Drexel University
Duke University
Emory University
George Mason University
Georgetown University
Georgia Tech
Grinnell College
Harvard University
Haverford College
Indiana University, Bloomington
Johns Hopkins University
Lafayette University
Lehigh University
Maryland Institute College of Art
Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Michigan State University
Middlebury College
Muhlenberg College
New Jersey Institute of Technology
New York Institute of Technology
Northeastern University
Northwestern University
NYU and NYU-Stern
Ohio State University
Oxford University
Parsons School of Design
Penn State University
Pratt Institute
Purdue University
Quinnipiac University
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rhode Island School of Design
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rutgers University
Saint Joseph’s University
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Smith College
Stanford University
Stevens Institute of Technology
Swarthmore College
Syracuse University
The College of New Jersey
Trinity College, Dublin
Tufts University
Tulane University
University of Arizona
UNC, Chapel Hill
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Chicago
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Connecticut
University of Delaware
University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
University of Iowa
University of Maine
University of Maryland
University of Massachusetts
University of Miami
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
University of Notre Dame
University of Oxford
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Richmond
University of Rochester
University of Southern California
University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business
University of Texas, Austin
University of Vermont
University of Virginia
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Vanderbilt University
Vassar College
Villanova University
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest University
Washington University at St. Louis
Wellesley College
Williams College
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Yale University

What to Do Next?

Schedule a complimentary 20-minute consultation with our founder and head admissions expert, Dr. Susan Osborn.

I look forward to speaking with you about the many ways we can support you and secure your child’s admission to the top college on the list!

Susan Osborn, Ph.D.

College application services

for Students in 9th and10th Grade

Starting in your child’s first year of high school, we help you:

• Design a course load that will capitalize on your child’s learning strengths and interests, and make an impact on college admissions committees
• Maximize admissions chances by designing an extracurricular program that will add value to your child’s academic profile and boost college admissions chances
• Prepare your child for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT
• Build a network of connections with community leaders, college professors, and experts who will write stand-out college recommendation letters
• Create an ideal college application timeline for junior and senior year

• Build self-confidence and independence
• Take the worry and stress out of the college application process right from the start


During the second half of your child’s junior year, we help your applicant:

• Develop a college list that suits your child’s intellectual interests and professional aspirations
• Pick essay topics that will show how your child is outstanding
• Write college application essays that show that your child is ideally qualified for every college on the list
• Strategically revise, edit, and polish college application essays
• Write supplemental essays that maximize admissions chances by adding value to your child’s application
• Write, rewrite, revise, reorganize, and reformat extracurricular lists to optimize admissions chances
• Prepare for SAT, ACT, and AP exams
• Create compelling talking points for college admissions interviews
• Write requests for letters of recommendation that ensure letters will boost admissions chances
• Use a learning disability (LD) in a positive way that adds value to your child’s application and boosts admissions chances
• Maintain an organized admissions schedule
• Build self-confidence and independence
• Reduce stress
• We also help parents write parent statements that will help you child’s guidance counselor write a unique and compelling letter of recommendation.