"The student and I had an excellent first session discussing college applications. I asked him to tell me more about himself, and he gave me a fantastic narrative of his personal development, from chess championships, to financial modeling, to business and entrepreneurship. His story (as he tells it) is one of gradual personal expansion, from independent intellectual exertion (chess championships), to interactions with broader systems (financial modeling), to a broader interest in learning from and helping other people. This is a great basic narrative for the college essay -- the trick will just be sharpening and focusing it! I've read some of his past essays, and they do a fantastic job highlighting his brilliance, passion, and accomplishments, but I don't get as much of a sense of who he is as a person (his abilities of self-reflection, his real curiosity about other people and other ideas, his laid-back personal demeanor). Our job as we work on the essay will be to create a narrative that combines both! The student and I spent some time discussing the application process -- the common application and its various supplements -- and how he'll be working to create as full a picture of himself as possible through a variety of submitted materials (from grades, scores, essays, recommendations, supplemental materials -- perhaps part of his program?, extra essay on why X school). We spent the end of the session generating possible focal points for the college essay and discussing different emphases he might use to describe his journey of personal growth (in one, he emphasized the intellectual challenge when he learned about the concept of value creation, in another, he described how his accomplishments have shaped his ability to confront new types of problems). For our next meeting, I asked the student to start doing some free-writing about his story -- and about what he most wants to communicate to the schools to which he's applying. I also encouraged him to start some free-writing about what he wants out of his college experience -- this will help him both to focus his list of schools and to be able to articulate in his essay how he thinks this next step in his journey will change him. Looking forward to our next meeting!"