Jill Shulman


  • Over twenty years of experience in writing, teaching and college admissions.
  • Has taught personal essay writing, creative writing and expository writing at New York University, The New School for Social Research, City University of New York and Gotham Writers Workshop.
  • Evaluates thousands of college applications as an Admissions Evaluator and has participated on the Admissions Committee at elite liberal arts colleges.
  • Has run programs for both high achieving and at-risk high school students in New York City, the Midwest and Massachusetts.
  • Published personal essays have appeared recently in national publications, including The New York Times, Family Circle, The New York Times Blog, Full Grown People, Family Fun, Errant Parent, Parents, Parents.com, Good Housekeeping, and O the Oprah Magazine.
  • A graduate of Williams College, B.A., and New York University, M.A..


  • Coaching is available for all written components of the college application, including the common application personal essay, supplemental essays and resume of honors and activities. I am happy to work with applicants on any or all aspects of the application writing process.
  • I demystify the application process from the point of view of a College Admission professional to alleviate anxiety about who reads these applications and what they look for.
  • As a seasoned writing teacher, I offer personalized writing instruction throughout the process.
  • Students benefit from the guidance of a professional writer. I write and edit my own personal essays until they are ready for national publication. I'll guide you through your writing experience with the empathy and insights of a veteran writer.
  • For many students, hiring a writing coach is a luxury. Therefore, I coach two students per season free of charge based on financial need.
  • Contact Jill Shulman to discuss rates based on your needs at jill@otherwords.us.


  1. Generating ideas. The mythical "writer's block" is really nothing more than going about the writing process in the wrong order. The editor within you shouldn't emerge until after you have poured your essence onto the page. I will help elicit a flow of ideas, sift through them and guide you toward your most promising topics.
  2. The blurt draft. The personal essay is far more fun and creative than the labored high school papers conscientious students may be accustomed to writing. The best, most inspired writing emerges when your "inner editor" is fast asleep. This draft will evoke the kind of passion and spirit that will stand out among the hundreds of essays an Admissions Officer will read.
  3. Editing. It's time to awaken your "inner editor." I'll guide you through restructuring, cutting anything extraneous and adding clarification, detail and reflection. You will mold your blurt draft into a narrative that will grab your audience's attention, paint a captivating picture of you at your best and then conclude with a provocative punch.
  4. Proofreading and polishing. The final draft is dedicated to sentence level revisions, sharpening and perfecting your prose. Line by line, word by word, we will comb through, sculpt and smooth your essay until it is mistake-free, polished and reflects your unique personality and attributes.


What qualifies you to guide me through my college application essay writing?

After reading and evaluating thousands of applications for admission to elite colleges, I can quickly spot over-used topics, what can be a turn-off to an admission reader and what shines in an essay. As a personal essay writer, who has taught writing for two and a half decades, I have elicited sharp, publishable, eye-catching prose from a wide variety of writers.

How long will this take?

If we're starting from scratch, four weeks is a reasonable amount of time to choose a fresh, powerful topic, write four or more drafts and produce a compelling essay you'll feel fantastic about submitting. We can assess this better when we talk.

When is it best to get started with my essays?
The summer before senior year is the optimum time to complete your personal essay and write a resume of honors and activities ready to upload into the common application. While brainstorming essay topics, we almost always unearth topics that can be used for supplemental essays to write any time from summer through fall of senior year. My rates do increase if you wait until the last minute.

How will we work together long distance?

Since we are dealing with the written word, all of our work can usually be achieved through email and telephone. When further communication is helpful, I am available through Skype, or in person if you live nearby in Massachusetts.

Will I get anything out of this other than a college admission essay?

The personalized work will be transferable to all modes of writing, including the college papers you will be required to write once you are accepted! Additionally, as a former college writing instructor, I seize opportunities to provide you with writing strategies and tips you can use for the rest of senior year, in college and beyond.

Is getting help with my college essay from a professional writer ethical?

I will not write your essay for you. The essay you produce will be from your own original ideas, written in your own words, in your own distinctive voice. I'll apply my expertise to make this process as inspired, clear, stress-free and enjoyable as possible. Everyone has a unique story and the intellect to tell it. You don't need me or anyone else to articulate it for you. I’ll help you recognize your personal story and give it shape.

Can you promise me I'll be accepted to the college of my choice?

Of course not. The Admissions Committee will consider all aspects of your application when making a decision. However, your essays are your big opportunity to infuse personality into your college application. I can promise to be thoughtful, thorough and candid with feedback about your work so that your essays reflect you at your finest. The resulting essays will transform you from a two-dimensional applicant into an impressive, engaging, three-dimensional person.


* Acceptances for fall of 2019

American University, Washington, D.C.
Amherst College, Massachusetts
* Arizona State University
Auburn University, Alabama
* Babson College, Massachusetts
Bard College, New York
* Barnard College, New York
* Bates College, Maine
Beloit College, Wisconsin
* Bennington College, Vermont
Bentley University, Massachusetts
Berklee College of Music, Massachusetts
Boston College, Massachusetts
* Boston University, Massachusetts
* Bowdoin College, Maine
* Brandeis University, Massachusetts
Brown University, Rhode Island
Bryant University, Rhode Island
Carleton College, Minnesota
* Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania
Case Western Reserve, Ohio
* Christopher Newport University, Virginia
* Clark University, Massachusetts
Clemson University, South Carolina
Coastal Carolina University, South Carolina
* Colby College, Maine
Colby-Sawyer College, New Hampshire
* Colgate University, New York
College of Charleston, South Carolina
College of William and Mary, Honors, Virginia
College of Wooster, Ohio
Colorado College
Colorado State University
Colorado University, Boulder
Columbia University, New York
Columbia University, New York, Graduate Engineering
* Connecticut College
* Cornell University, New York
Cornell University, New York, Graduate Engineering
Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
Dickinson College, Pennsylvania
* Drexel University, Pennsylvania
* Elon University, North Carolina
Emanuel College, Massachusetts
Emory University, Georgia
Evergreen State College, Washington
Fairfield University, Connecticut
Florida Institute of Technology
Florida State University
Fordham University, New York
Franklin Pierce University, New Hampshire
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania
* Goucher College, Maryland
* Grinnell College, Iowa
Hamilton College, New York
* Hampshire College, Massachusetts
* Hampton University, Virginia
Harvard University, Massachusetts
* Haverford College, Pennsylvania
* Hobart and William Smith College, New York
* Indiana University
Ithaca College, New York
Johns Hopkins University, Maryland
Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island
* Juniata College, Pennsylvania
Keene State College, New Hampshire
* Kenyon College, Ohio
Lafayette College, Pennsylvania
Lehigh University, Pennsylvania
Louisiana State University
Loyola Marymount University, California
Loyola University, Illinois
Loyola University, Music & Fine Arts, Louisiana
* Macalester College, Minnesota
* Marquette University, Wisconsin
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
* McGill University, Québec
McMaster University, Canada
Miami University, Ohio
* Middlebury College, Vermont
* Monmouth University, New Jersey
Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts
Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania
* New York University
* Northeastern University, Massachusetts
* Norwich University, Vermont
* Oberlin College, Ohio
Pennsylvania State University
Pepperdine University, California
Pitzer College, California
* Prairie View A&M University, Texas
Princeton University, New Jersey
Queens University, Canada
Reed College, Oregon
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, CT
Rice University, Texas
Rochester Institute of Technology, NY
Saint Anselm College, New Hampshire
Saint Edward’s University, Texas
Saint Joseph’s University, Pennsylvania
Saint Lawrence University, New York
* Saint Louis University, Missouri
Saint Michael’s College, Vermont
Saint Olaf College, Minnesota
* Salisbury University, Maryland
Salve Regina University, Rhode Island
Samford University, Alabama
Santa Clara University, California
* Sarah Lawrence College, New York
Scripps College, California
* Simmons College, Massachusetts
* Skidmore College, New York
* St. Andrews University, Scotland
* State University of New York
* Stonehill College, Massachusetts
* Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania
Syracuse University, New York
* Temple University, Pennsylvania
Texas A&M University
* Texas Tech University
* The Citadel Military College, South Carolina
* Towson University, Maryland
Trinity College, Connecticut
* Trinity College, Ireland
* Tufts University, Massachusetts
* Tulane University, Louisiana
* Tuskegee University, Alabama
* University of Alabama
University of British Colombia
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, San Diego
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Central Florida
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Connecticut, Honors
* University of Denver, Colorado
University of Florida
* University of Hartford, Connecticut
University of Houston, Texas, Honors College
University of Illinois
University of Maine
* University of Maryland
University of Maryland, Honors College, Clark School of Engineering
* University of Massachusetts
University of Miami, Florida
* University of Michigan
University of Mississippi
University of New Hampshire
University of New Haven, Connecticut
University of New Orleans, Louisiana
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
University of Oregon
University of Pennsylvania
* University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
University of Richmond, Virginia
University of Rochester, New York
University of South Carolina
University of South Florida
University of Southern California
University of Tennessee
* University of Texas
* University of Vermont
* University of Virginia
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Utica College, New York
* Vanderbilt University, Tennessee
* Vassar College, New York
Villanova University, Pennsylvania
* Virginia Military Institute
* Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Virginia Tech, Graduate Engineering
Wake Forest University, North Carolina
Washington & Jefferson College, Pennsylvania
Washington College, Maryland
Washington University, Missouri
Wellesley College, Massachusetts
* Wesleyan University, Connecticut
West Virginia University
Western New England University, Massachusetts
Wheaton College, Massachusetts
William and Mary, Virginia
Williams College, Massachusetts
Worcester Polytechnic Institute, MA
* Yale University, Connecticut


Contact Jill Shulman at jill@otherwords.us.

Contact Jill Shulman for a free consultation

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Jill, you are a total magician. I read my son's essay and I think it's great -- and I also think it's true! I'm so impressed with your process. I knew you were a great writer and I knew you'd be a terrific and compassionate coach in this process. But you do much more than that. My son was trying to say what he thought "they" wanted to hear in this whole application marathon, and I've been complicit in treating the process as a game. You turned it around by asking him to think about what's actually true, what matters to him and moves him -- and it is a much, much better essay as a result. He's happy with it too, which is even more remarkable. So THANK YOU! You're amazing at what you do.

Eve, son at University of Pennsylvania


Your help and assistance completely transformed my essays. Before speaking with you, I had many ideas of what my college essay might look like; however, with your insight into the college admissions process and great writing skills, you bring out the most unique and standout qualities of someone in an essay. I am extremely happy with my final essays, and I would have never imagined that my essays could represent me that well! I even had college admissions personnel call me and specifically comment on how great the essay was! Thank you!

Asher, George Washington University

Your guidance, counseling, and coaching have been invaluable. While he is not overly expressive with his parents, my son greatly appreciates all your wisdom and encouragement. I greatly appreciate the confidence he has in this process, mainly due to you.

Theresa, Asher’s Mom


Jill was amazing to work with. Her process of helping my son write his college essay was so impressive. He really enjoyed all parts of it, from the brainstorming to the editing. Working with Jill was a pleasure, and he ended up with an essay that was truly from his heart. Many schools actually commented on how touched they were by the story he told, and how they related to it themselves. We could not be happier with the outcome. Jill was also extremely knowledgeable about the college process and the colleges themselves. My son got into 16 of the 18 schools he applied to, and is attending his first choice, Bowdoin College, in the Fall. Thank you Jill!

Christine, son will attend Bowdoin College


Having our son work with Jill on not only his college essays but also how he presented his extra-curricular activities and his application in general eliminated a major point of stress in the process. She kept him on task with reasonable, but enforceable deadlines. He felt very supported, and as parents, we didn't have to badger our son to get things done. He worked with Jill over the summer and went back to school in September with his essays and applications pretty much ready to go. Jill was a dream for our son to work with. She will be the first person we contact when our younger son is ready to apply to colleges!

Kathy, son will attend Bates College


Jill’s coaching work with both of our high school juniors was extremely helpful. Jill brings the relevant expertise to the table and has a useful and friendly, but structured approach to keep students working towards their vision and meeting the tight timelines. I particularly appreciated the way she encourages the student’s unique voice and compelling narration to shine through. As a family living overseas and somewhat removed from the intimidating US college application process, it was comforting to have guidance from someone so keyed in to what works. We can highly recommend Jill!

Sarah, son at Williams College, daughter at Swarthmore College


Ms. Shulman was an outstanding help to me and was always willing to go the extra mile! She is fervently passionate about her work and genuinely connects with you on a personal level by giving candid advice and rooting for your success!

Max, will transfer to University of Virginia


You were an enormous help to my daughter, just getting her started, helping her sort through everything and most importantly, feeling confident about her essay and the whole application process.

Andrea, daughter will attend University of Vermont


My son's experience with you was an invaluable one. You were able to glean the best possible essay out of him by keeping him on task and focused. That, in turn, aided his application, resulting in the best case scenario for my son. I have recommended you to several of my friends, explained that it will be money well spent and will give them and their children peace of mind knowing that it will result in one of the most well written pieces of work their children will produce!

Katherine, son will attend St. Andrews, Scotland


I am not the strongest writer, but every time I had to make revisions to one of my essays, I would get a mini English lesson along with it. Every writing assignment I have completed during my senior year has impressed my teachers tremendously and I could not have done it without you. Everything you did to help me through this process is the reason why I am going where I am this fall. Had it not been for your continuous stream of feedback, or your continuous boosts of morale, I don’t know what I’d be doing or where I’d be going after graduation. Thank you for everything you did, and I hope that future college applicants choose to work with you, because they won’t regret it one bit.

Luke, will attend University of Maryland


I really appreciate your help with my college essay and helping me get my best work in the end. Working with you made me feel more confident in my writing and prepared to take on the daunting task of writing essays in college.
Thanks again,

Hannah, will attend Tufts University


Jill, thank you for your amazing care and counsel that led to a trusting relationship between you and my son, which then resulted in a productive essay writing process. You guided him to write authentically and truthfully. His essay showed his true self to the admissions counselors. He was accepted to five of the six colleges where he applied! Thank you.

Sue, child will attend Salisbury University


Having my son work with Jill was a dream come true! Jill magically made my video-game-addicted son get his main essay done before his junior year summer vacation ended without any prodding or involvement from me! In addition to writing stellar essays, he learned how to take responsibility for communicating with her, setting up all the appointments himself, and getting his work done according to their schedule. She helped him become a better writer too - and this fall, he wrote such a good paper for his African American history class that his teacher wants him to submit it for an essay contest. He's learned lessons from Jill that will carry him forward in college and in life. She also helped him with his supplemental essays and activities. She went above and beyond - and was always happy to just chat with me and give us general advice in choosing colleges to consider. We are so grateful to Jill and would highly recommend her!

Vivian, son at Boston College


WOW is all I can say. I finally had the long awaited pleasure of reading my son's essay. It's way more than I ever imagined it would be. Thank you so much for pushing him to work hard and to perfect this! I'm so impressed. On an acceptance letter, there was a handwritten note: "You wrote such a cool and engaging essay! I loved how you connected music to other aspects of your life and hope you bring that talent to our college!" Thank you, Jill, for working with him on his essay and encouraging him to do his very best.

Penny, son at State University of New York, Geneseo


My honest feeling about all that goes in to college applications is that it’s way over the top and way too much pressure. So, thankfully, we found you - a clear voice of what is expected and how best to manage through it, putting your best foot forward with who you are and what you’ve accomplished. Your understanding of what these colleges are looking for and your input were extremely valuable for my son’s successful admission to three out of the four schools to which he applied. You are very knowledgeable about the individual schools themselves, which was another huge plus.
The ease and availability you offer makes working with you very doable and enjoyable - even for a busy senior who doesn’t like to write! Your ability to relate to your student client is also a great benefit that leads to a successful outcome. I highly recommend you and your services to anyone seeking professional guidance through the subjective nature of the college application process. Thank you for your help with our son. We will contact you again when his sister starts applying.

Connie, son at University of Florida


Jill Shulman is patient and kind. I was very nervous about applying for college and she helped me with my whole application, making the whole process so much easier and less stressful. In the end I was accepted to my first choice college and I can't thank Jill enough for helping me get to that point! Thanks again for all your help!

Claire, Wellesley College


Working with you helped me tremendously. I started an essay the other day for my English class and I thought of how you taught me to entrance the reader and make it an essay only I could write. Just that advice alone has changed the way I write for the better. You helped me realize that I can always go a little deeper and create a few more vivid details to make any essay or story I write the best that it can be. For that, among many other things, I want to say thank you!

Alexis, Clemson University, Honors College


We came to Jill Shulman after our son was deferred from an Ivy League school in the Early Action process. Jill showed us what was lacking in his application and what he should change to be more competitive. It worked! Our son was accepted to Dartmouth College, and we know it was because of his revised application. Jill Shulman is a true professional who can glance at a student's Common App and instantly know what needs to be improved. Thank you, Jill!

Kristine, son at Dartmouth College


Before working with Jill, I couldn’t imagine essay writing in any capacity being fun. However, Jill does a magical job of transforming a normally painful experience into an entertaining one. She not only made my college applications ten times better, but she made me a better writer overall. Her admissions experience provided an insider’s glimpse of an admissions officer’s thought process and mentality that put my mind at ease throughout the entire process. She has been a Godsend, and I honestly would have gotten into a lot more fights with my mom without her! (I know my mom is eternally grateful as well.)

Matthew, College of William and Mary

I love my son’s Common Application essay. It really captures him in a unique way. Thank you for making this process so much fun for him. You are a treasure!

Teri, Matthew's mom


My son is an excellent student with plenty to say, yet he’s a procrastinator who thinks he can't write. Jill helped him define topics that made him stand out, and somehow got him to put his thoughts to paper. After the first draft, she offered such useful writing tips that he continued to implement her advice for other projects. I’m a professional writer myself – we hired Jill for her college-content expertise, yet even I was wowed by the final result.

Rona, son at Cornell University


You helped me do the soul-searching I needed to not only write a killer essay, but also to figure out my own values and what I want to get out of college. The process was so much more enjoyable because I got to share it with you. It will be so exciting for me to read a piece of writing that reflects so much about my 18-year-old self a few years down the line. You have been such an influential and sympathetic motivator throughout the whole college process. With your help, I was able to get into nearly all of the schools I applied to. I cannot thank you enough for being so warm and patient with me.

Emma, Colorado College


My daughter is going to Yale! We cannot thank you enough. The Asst. Director of Admission hand wrote this on her letter, “I thoroughly enjoyed your essay about learning to gracefully accept help from others and offer a hand when needed. You will be an amazing teammate and community contributor.” One thing I learned was that the essay truly must come from the heart of the student!

Michelle, daughter Yale University


Working with you really helped me on my journey to accepting and believing in myself. Although a constant journey, you taught me to go for things that I could not see as realistic as a possible first generation college student. The college process was a very unique and complicated time for my development as a person and I am glad I had you there to help me find my way past all of the superficiality and negativity that all applicants encounter every year. Thank you.

Josiah, Tufts University


Jill made the essay writing process meaningful, less stressful, and fun. She asked me all the right questions, and I came out of our conversations with original and authentic ideas for my essay. Her great attitude kept me from getting overwhelmed, and her thoughtful input was invaluable for me. I'm so grateful I was able to work with her.

Bethany, Washington University

Jill has made the application process an easy and inspiring experience for both my children and for us, the parents. She has a real talent for teasing out subjects for the college essay and prompting kids to really put themselves into their essays. Our two children have gotten into their top choices in no small part due to Jill's expertise in the writing process. I can't recommend her enough!

Meg, Bethany's mom, son University of Massachusetts


My twins’ experience with you was so much more than writing a college essay. I truly believe they grew and evolved through the process and subsequently through the entire college application process. Self-awareness (and acceptance) in my view is one of the most important traits one needs for both personal and professional success.  You took them to that place and encouraged them with great patience and skill.

Michelle, daughter Tufts University, son Loyola University New Orleans, College of Music and Fine Arts


I don't think my daughter would be going to her dream school without your help. You are a wonderful, patient teacher and were invaluable to her. Your knowledge of the admission process, as well as your skill as a writer and mentor, made the essay process understandable in a way that I hadn't thought was possible.

Catie, daughter at Mount Holyoke College


In brainstorming ideas for my Common App Essay, I was stuck.  I had no idea what I wanted to write about and felt as if I had nothing to write about.  But even after one session with Jill, I felt confident in my options and incredibly relieved--she helped me write a compelling, thoughtful, and well-planned essay. Thank you so much, Jill, for all that you did for me! I am so grateful.

Emma, Bowdoin College


It's an invaluable experience to have Jill's help. She offers the best perspective possible as an admission officer and writer, the best professional I have ever encountered: very competent, efficient, firm but kind, honest and sincere. What my daughter learned from Jill will be beneficial throughout her life.

George, daughter at Rice University


It was amazing to have the perspective of someone who is both a great writer and who has read a bunch of these essays. Her insightful, clear, incredibly helpful suggestions were a lot easier for my son to hear than anything coming from Mom.

Kelly, sons at Williams College and Babson College


I'm in the car on my way to Vanderbilt!!! I just wanted to thank you again for all your help with my application. You really helped me pull together my essays. I don't know how I would have found those mistakes or gotten such amazing advice without you. Thanks for everything,

Simon, Vanderbilt University


I’m really a math/science guy, but somehow, Jill actually made writing my college essays fun. My college applications included the best essays I’ve ever written.

Matt, Rochester Institute of Technology


THANK YOU! Your help brought me from a place of confusion and frustration to one of gratification and confidence. You are great at what you do!

Myles, Vassar College


I've decided to attend Swarthmore next year! It was a hard decision, but I think Swarthmore was the best fit. Thanks so much again for all your help, and you made the whole process much less stressful.

Dan, Swarthmore College

Thanks so much for helping my son get through the process of applying to college. Your assistance with the essays was exactly the right mix of critical distance and support.

Sean, Dan's mom