In this series, we spotlight a student who worked with Vanguard on their college admissions process. Here is our interview with Amav, who applied to college for the fall of 2023 and was accepted to Yale, Harvard, and Brown!
What were you most nervous about when you started the college process?
The essays, especially the Common App essay. I was new to the writing process, especially this kind of narrative writing. I knew I had to write a story other people could relate to, but also tie in my own character traits that I wanted to demonstrate. I didn’t really know where to begin.
Why did you choose to work with Vanguard on your college essays?
One of my friends had worked with Vanguard through the application process. I asked him what his experience was like, and he told me how helpful it was to have someone keeping track of all the different things he needed to send to colleges, and especially how helpful Vanguard’s essay coaching was. There are so many different ways you can go wrong in the creative writing process, and I knew I needed outside feedback.
What was the essay coaching process like?
Vanguard went above and beyond for me. My Essay Specialist, Katie, met with me once a week at first, but then she adjusted her schedule when I asked to meet twice a week so I could get even more feedback. I had an idea in mind when I started at Vanguard, but Katie helped me brainstorm and refine the idea and structure over many drafts – in the end there were 48 pages in my essay document!
What did you end up writing your essay about?
My two main passions are gardening and the Japanese language. In the end, we used an early obstacle in my gardening journey, when there were rats in my garden, and used it to illuminate the parallels between Japanese and gardening. Writing so many drafts with Vanguard really helped me realize my vision for the essay.
Did you feel like your writing skills improved in general after working with Vanguard?
Yes, definitely. I’m more organized in my approach to writing now – I can brainstorm a lot better, and then follow up that brainstorm with a more fully realized draft. I’m also better at interpreting advice from other people and taking it in my own way, now that I know more about the principles of good writing. I’ve applied this to my scholarship applications, and sometimes school essays as well. Vanguard’s feedback helped me focus on developing my own voice.
I also just felt so much more prepared for the college application process in general. When I looked at my friends who did the same process without help, they were confused and asking me for advice a lot of the time. Vanguard was so patient with all of my questions (I had a lot of questions through the whole process), and I always had someone to reach out to, a trusted source to rely on and get an answer right away. I’m so grateful to Vanguard for that.
Applying to college soon? You can learn more about our essay coaching and college counseling services here.