Helping Students Apply to Highly Selective Colleges & Universities

A Video Course for Counselors and Educators

Led by Tom Campbell (former Pomona College admissions officer) and Ethan Sawyer (nationally recognized college admissions and essay expert)

Learn more and Register

This past summer we conducted a surveyed for counselors and asked: “what area do you most need support with?”

The top answer? Highly selective admissions. By a landslide.

As counselors and educators, we know that less than 1% of U.S. high school graduates enroll at the most selective colleges (the Ivies, MIT, Stanford, UChicago and Caltech, etc.). We also know that students can find parallel programs, opportunities, qualities, and experiences at many of the 2,000+ other colleges and universities across the country.

At the same time, these realities don’t stop students from applying in droves.

And so, our Helping Students Apply to Highly Selective Colleges mini-course was born.

Led by
Tom Campbell and Ethan Sawyer, this course covers all things highly selective admissions. Counselors will leave with a clearer understanding of the current selective admissions landscape (and what’s changed in recent years), an inside look at how admissions officers read applications, and case studies of successful applicants.

Since we’re also firm believers that “where you go is not who you’ll be,” we’ll also share information about other paths and college options (and tips on how to get students and families to see these as valid!)


We'll help you:


Demystify the highly selective admissions process for your students and families and gain clarity around what these institutions are looking for.


Teach students how to demonstrate their unique skills, qualities, values and interests to highly selective institutions.


Bring more ease, purpose and joy to your students' college process – especially if they have their sights set on highly selective schools.


Helping Students Apply to Highly Selective Colleges

A Video Course with Ethan Sawyer and Tom Campbell


This course covers all things highly selective admissions: what these institutions are, what they offer, how to talk about them with your students, what they're looking for, and how the process works.


 We'll cover:

  • Data that helps illustrate the reality of applicant pools at highly selective institutions
  • Visuals and analogies to help better understand the nuances of the competitive college landscape
  • Case studies and examples of students who’ve been successfully admitted to highly selective institutions (as well as examples from competitive applicants who were rejected)
  • A “behind the curtain” look at the most common reading process and workflow at highly selective colleges (called Committee-Based Evaluation)
  • Brainstorming exercises and writing techniques to help your students crush one of the things they have the most control over when applying to selective colleges: their story
  • Lots more
Register | Helping Students Apply to Highly Selective Colleges and Universities

Are you a student or parent?

See our sessions for students here:

For Students & Families

After the course, you'll be able to answer these frequently-asked student and parent questions:

  • What are admission officers looking for?
  • Who typically attends these types of schools?
  • How different are the application processes and priorities at these schools? Why are they so competitive?
  • How much do the different application components (courses, grades, test scores, activities, recommendations) matter?
  • Is it possible to “chance” myself at these colleges?
  • I’m an international student with high financial need, and highly selective institutions tend to be the only ones with aid policies that would fully fund me. How does my process differ?
  • What are the biggest myths about highly selective admissions?
  • How much do “hooks” matter at highly selective colleges? And if I don’t have a hook, what should I do?
  • Is applying to highly selective colleges even worth it?
  • What types of scholarships are available at highly selective colleges?
  • What role do essays play at highly selective colleges? 
  • How many of these schools should I apply to, and how do I juggle all the work that comes along with it?
  • What do successful applications look like and what do these applicants do differently?
  • If I started thinking about this relatively late, is it “too late” for me to be competitive—and how can I know?
  • How many highly selectives should I apply to (if I do decide to apply)? How many schools in general?
  • Is test-optional legit?

What folks are saying about our online courses:


“CEG is undoubtedly the best resource for anxious college applicants. They make the process exponentially easier, less stressful, and rewarding to go through. If you're on the fence about it, go ahead and commit. Every person involved genuinely wants the best for their applicant and will do their best every time they meet with you."


- Brandi F.


“Starting these courses, I thought I was prepared to put together a good application, but I'm able to recognize now that my application and essays would have been pretty lifeless. Now I have strong, unique essays and a cohesive application that I hope will help to make me a much more competitive applicant at selective schools.”

- Natalie

"I had no idea how to structure my essays, what content to use, and the appropriate language to include before using Ethan's course. I would definitely recommend these courses to anyone during any stage of the college application process! The videos were very professional and surprisingly enjoyable, and he includes several handy resources and guides to jumpstart your brainstorming and finish your essays!"

- Gwynn



Meet Your Facilitators

Tom Campbell has reviewed thousands of college essays and applications and interviewed countless students as an admissions officer at Pomona College and the College of the Holy Cross. He also works on CEG's internal college essay review committee where he provides insight and practical feedback on college essays and applications. He has also worked as a college counselor at a selective independent high school and understands how challenging writing about oneself can be and how high stakes it can feel — you’ll find nothing but empathy and solidarity from him as you craft your narrative.


Ethan has been eating/sleeping/breathing college essays for most of his waking hours since 2003. He is a nationally recognized college essay expert, sought-after speaker, and author of the Amazon bestsellers College Essay Essentials and College Admission Essentials.

Each year he helps thousands of students and counselors through his online courses, workshops, articles, products, and books, and works privately with a small number of students.

A graduate of Northwestern University, Ethan holds an MFA from UC Irvine, two counseling certificates, is certified in Myers-Briggs and hypnotherapy. He lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife and daughter.


Ready to help your students stand out?


One-time Payment

Access to the Full Course

Recordings of Sessions and Q&A

PDF Resources

Register - $397.00

Payment Plan

Access to the Full Course

Recordings of Sessions and Q&A

PDF Resources

Register - $133 X 3 months

“College Essay Guy reduced our family's stress, increased my daughter's confidence, and kept her on schedule while helping her create fantastic essays that reflected her personality and future goals--priceless!”

  Sarah, parent

Can’t afford this course?

Access is really important to me. In fact, it’s at the heart of most of everything I do and is why so many resources on my site are free. It’s why I’m offering pay-what-you-can spots for high school college counselors in schools, CBOs, or non-profits with small budgets and few resources for professional development.


“Wait, so if our counseling department doesn’t have a budget, we can still join?”


Yep. If that’s you, request a pay-what-you-can spot. Don’t be shy; I’d love to have you.

Request a pay-what-you can spot

Frequently Asked Questions