Practical Coaching Strategies for the Average Student Writer

An On-Demand Course for College Counselors and Educators



Every year, counselors ask us how to:

  • Encourage students who say they have nothing to write about
  • Encourage students who lack confidence
  • Encourage students who don’t recognize their storytelling superpowers
  • Work with students who are intimidated by advanced example essays
  • Teach students to tell a great story (in a tiny space)
  • Uplevel students' details from safe to unique
  • Coach students to take risks in their writing
  • Give line edits that encourage more insight
  • Explain what insight even means!
  • Coach students how to cut
  • Help students understand what revision really means
  • Encourage students (who’d rather have someone else–or something else–write their essay) to do the writing themselves 
  • Is it ethical to use AI on a college essay?
  • How do I talk to students about the use of AI?
  • Is a college essay worth doing without AI?(or) How do we still honor a meaningful process of reflection and metacognition during this transitional time? 

We hear you, and here's our response: 


Practical Coaching Strategies for the Average Student Writer

An On Demand Course for College Counselors & Educators


I (Ethan) am partnering with Lyn Fairchild Hawks—college essay coach and author—to bring you this course and offer specific and practical strategies to help students of varying writing abilities tell powerful stories, offer meaningful insight, and complete serious revisions on their college essays. We’ll get real about AI developments and how we’re talking to students about their writing process in this transitional time

In this 3-week course, we’ll cover:

  • What to do when a student says they have nothing to write about
  • What to do when a student is in love with big, fancy words
  • What to do when a student says they hate writing
  • How to coach students at their readiness level
  • How to encourage specific, cinematic detail
  • How to give line edits that prompt storytelling gold
  • How to use before and after models of dull to shiny writing
  • How to create a culture of celebration and trust
  • How to help students identify insight via mentor essays
  • How to get students answering analytical, evaluative, and speculative questions
  • How to coach unique epiphanies
  • How to help students express vulnerability that leads to insight
  • How to use mindfulness techniques that lead to insight
  • How to coach each part of the writing process
  • How to follow best practice with line edits
  • How to coach students out of revision ruts
  • How to help students see how their storytelling gold and personal insights are far more unique–and honest–than whatever AI can scrape from the Web–and why colleges want that
  • Plus new brainstorming exercises, and lots more

Help your students through the entire essay writing journey.


"I have no idea what to write about"


"I'm ready to write."

And all the way to:

"I did my best and I'm proud."

What folks are saying about this course:

"I have found that students really get the idea of "gold." And once I highlight examples in their essay, they are able to replicate that. This has been one of the most helpful approaches to working with students I have encountered."
- Jacki
"The workbook was super helpful as were the takeaway slides, which I've already used with students. I liked that they were specific, but also customizable."


"Lyn's approach to writing the college personal statement essay not only will help counselors and coaches and applicants organize the process, but it will also help instill a dynamism to the craft so that the writing speaks to its reader, saying, "Look at me, here I am!"

- Kieran

"Thank you for a wonderful experience. I have long struggled with coaching my students on craft, so your workshop was like finding a genie in a bottle. Because of your expertise I now have coaching tools for producing excellence. It has been the single most transformative approach to my coaching, editing, and writing."

- Kirk

Taken our courses before and wondering what’s new?

We’re answering many of the questions we get about coaching the reluctant student writer and will help you find the “just right” strategy, content, and approach for students at any ability level.


You'll be ready next time a student says:

"I don't get it."

"I hate writing!"

"I have nothing special to write about."

"I need to use big words to sound smart."

"I haven't written anything since last session."

“I was messing around with ChatGPT and look what it did…”


Meet Lyn (our Host)

Lyn Fairchild Hawks is an experienced essay coach with her own business, Success Story, and loves helping students tell cinematic stories. Her students earn merit scholarships and hear good news from schools such as Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, Cal Poly, and Cornell. She is a graduate of Stanford University with a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Education, and holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She is the author of young adult novels, short stories, and books for educators, including lessons for teaching Shakespeare. As someone juggling critiques from agents and editors, she understands what it’s like to wrestle with feedback and make deep revisions.

For 15 years Lyn designed and ran online programs for gifted youth at Duke University and loves personalizing writing activities for students as well as training teachers. She lives in Chapel Hill, NC with her partner, Greg Hawks, an Americana singer-songwriter, and Sonny the orange tabby, the namesake of bluegrass, jazz, and blues musicians. Her stepson, a proud graduate of DePaul, now mixes sound in an L.A. film studio and still forgives his stepmom for making him rewrite all his essays. She loves drawing, cooking, dancing to ‘80s music, and Wordle.

Meet Ethan (the Guy)

Ethan Sawyer 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, and is certified in Myers-Briggs and hypnotherapy. He lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife and daughter.


Meet Andy (Special Guest)

Andrew Simpson has helped 10,000+ students on their journeys toward higher education. He attended Stanford and Oxford, earning degrees in Political Science and Drama.

He taught college classes in Los Angeles in Critical Thinking, Sociology, Anthropology of Media, Political Science, English Composition, and Public Speaking. He believes Myers-Briggs is flawed and there are better personality tests out there.

He has worked with Ethan for more than 15 years, is Ethan's go-to coach when he gets stuck with a student, and now works with College Essay Guy full-time.



Meet Hanah (Special Guest)

Hanah Lim is the Head of Workshops and Curriculum at College Essay Guy. She is a former high school English teacher and essay specialist who is passionate about helping demystify the college admission process for young people and their families. Before teaching English at the high school she attended growing up, she worked as a college consultant for students in Bangkok, Thailand, and directed SAT prep centers in Irvine, California. She was an EL coordinator and an AVID teacher/coordinator at a public high school in California and made it her goal to help close the achievement gap. In addition to coaching seniors write their college essays, Hanah has also trained teachers and counselors internationally on how to take students through the college essay process. She graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Education and is a credentialed single subject teacher. As part of her work, Hanah oversees CEG's workshop and curriculum programs and organizes college application and essay workshops for students at schools and organizations in the US and around the world. Hanah finds joy in watching musicals, visiting Disney parks with her husband, and playing with her two cats.


Coach students at every level of writing ability.

Practical Coaching Strategies for the Average Student Writer

  • Six Hours of  Instruction
  • Hands-on Exercises for Students
  • Take-home Resources for Counselors
$597 One Time - Register →
$199 x 3 Months - Register →

Can’t afford this course?
We're offering pay-what-you-can spots

Access is really important to us. In fact, it’s at the heart of most everything we do and is why so many resources on the site are free.

It’s why this course is available at Pay-What-You-Can 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, click on one of the orange buttons below to request a Pay-What-You-Can spot. Don’t be shy; I’d love to have you.


Request a pay-what-you can spot

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