college essay writing

The College Scoops Podcast

Episode 122: How To Write A College Essay – An Author’s Perspective

May 17, 2022

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Being a writer, whether you’re aiming for a writing career or simply crafting an essay to get into college, is daunting. Julie Gerstenblatt, who is an author and teacher, joins us on the podcast to give advice on the writing process and talk about professional publication. With her experience as a college essay coach, she also provides guidance on how to craft the most nerve-racking essay a high school student will write: the college essay.

Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t waste opportunities to write.
  • There is so much work that goes into researching for a novel to accurately recreate the world and time period.
  • Historical writers learn more than they need to include in the novel where they must leave some behind to allow for the creative writing aspect. 
  • The editing process includes, but is not limited to, finding agents, doing revisions, an inclusivity reading, and marketing before release date.
  • College essays take space, patience, and time.
  • College essays are higher stakes compared to your typical class essay. But, you never get a grade, feedback, or a rubric. So, you have to decide what’s important on your own with advice from those around you.
  • A conversation with someone else is a great way to start the college essay process.
  • Don’t stop at 650 words on college essays. It’s better to write more, then you can cut it down to fit the word count.
  • When writing college essays, cut to the main part of the story and skip background details.

Important Resources and Links:

Julie Gerstenblatt


Meet Julie Gerstenblatt

Julie Gerstenblatt

Julie Gerstenblatt holds a Doctorate in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and has taught everything from writing at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island to middle school English on Long Island, NY.  In 2016, she began a college essay coaching consultancy to help high school students – and their parents – mitigate the stress of applying to college.  

Julie’s debut novel, A TINY SPARK, will be published by Mira books, an imprint of HarperCollins/Harlequin, in the spring of 2023. This historical novel explores the intersecting lives of three very different women in the days leading up to and immediately following Nantucket’s Great Fire of 1846. 

Julie’s essays have appeared in The Huffington Post, Cognoscenti, Grown & Flown, and Kveller, among others.  When not writing or teaching, she works as a producer for A Mighty Blaze, a social media and marketing organization of volunteer creatives dedicated to connecting writers to readers during COVID and beyond, which has grown into a leading resource for author interviews.  Julie lives in coastal Rhode Island with her family and one very smart poodle.

Thank you Julie for sharing your story on how you wrote A TINY SPARK. So, what does it take to write a book? There are many different facets of writing a novel, one of which is research. Writing a novel requires a lot of research before the actual writing begins. Authors dedicate a lot of time to interviewing people, researching locations, time periods, and history to lay the groundwork for a novel. There is also the business aspect of writing a book. This includes finding an agent, marketing the book, packaging, and more. As a college English professor and educational consultant, Julie shares her experience working with college students in college level writing courses and her work helping students write essays for their college applications.

Episode 122 Full Transcript

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College Scoops has a team of college interns who share their insights and expertise with our community. Our team consists of editors, writers, videographers, social media experts, and storytellers who work hard to produce relevant and interesting content for students (and parents) whether they are applying to, attending or graduating from college.

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