"I sent an email to both students detailing the items that I would like for them to prepare (or bring) to our first tutoring session. These were: 1) personal calendar/agenda; 2) list of schools to which they are applying and the application deadlines; 3) an activity resume (list of their extracurricular activities, the dates of involvement, and their role/contribution to that activity); 4) list of individuals writing their letters of recommendation (just their names); 5) no more than 3 specific reasons motivating their selection of colleges mentioned in #2; and 6) draft version of essays they are working on (or any essay they have written this school year).
Since it was our first session, we spent more time than we will in subsequent sessions discussing our expectations of one another and my goals for them with their essays and written language skills. I asked if they have had the opportunity to visit the campuses and become better-acquainted with the 'culture' of each program to help in writing their essays. We discussed the significance of the college essay and they shared how the U.S. admissions process is markedly different from that of Italy and Belgium (their respective countries of origin). We discussed their familiarity with essay writing, the basic anatomy of an essay, and the objective of college essays (it serving as the only component of the application that allows a student to express their personality and convey their interest in applying to the school). They asked for my suggestions on language-building for the SAT (both are currently taking SAT prep courses). Considering that they are applying to Business Schools, I suggested that they read The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist. I asked that they look into other reading materials on the topic of Finance and Business as well. One student mentioned that his friend from Italy suggested that they try an app that reviews a quantity of words daily for SAT practice. I asked them to try out the app and we could discuss any improvements they saw at our next session.
The students provided me the application deadlines and we worked backwards from the deadline dates to establish "due dates" for the intermediate steps needed to complete their application (TOEFL, SAT, recommendations submitted, etc.) I recommended that they include a 2-week "buffer" for the admissions deadlines.
We discussed their concerns about writing the essays and some feedback that one student received from his school's program counselor. I asked that they email me the list of items that I asked them to prepare/bring to the session and that I would review their essays before next week's session. I also suggested that they brainstorm potential essay topics, so that we could write at our next session."