1. “Be as vocal as possible in asking for help,” said Anabel Graff, a college essay coach. “Ask family and friends who have recently gone through the process, ‘Can you give me the book you had last year?’ Or ask friends who graduated from your school what they wish they had known that you might tell an incoming student. Go to teachers who you have a relationship with and ask for help.”
2. Libraries are a treasure trove. The East Hampton Library, for instance, is offering 30-minute essay coaching sessions today, Monday, and Oct. 28. The John Jermain Memorial Library has a practice SAT session coming up on Saturday. They also usually have the most up-to-date test prep books and lots of other tools kids can use.
3. The internet also has plenty to offer. Ms. Graff recommends popular blogs and coaches including Essay Hell (essayhell.com), College Essay Guy (collegeessayguy.com), and Yelena Shuster (theadmissionsguru.com), who all offer free resources in addition to paid services.
4. Start early, says Lynne Brown, East Hampton High School counseling coordinator. Common application essay questions are released each summer, so students can start writing drafts. Even underclassmen can get ahead of the game by taking advantage of the common application questions.
5. Students who are nervous about SATs and ACTs can look for test-optional schools. Many colleges no longer require standardized test scores for admissions decisions. Some highly rated schools are on this list, including Sarah Lawrence College, Smith College, Hofstra University, George Washington University, and Wake Forest University.