Personal Essays; Written by the Experts

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“Students are essentially paying a third party to ghost-write their story in an essay which is supposed to be a culmination of their skill set,” (Rabinowitz, 2016).

The personal essay is a college application requirement for seniors to write a 400-600 word piece about themselves. “The personal essay is a snippet of who you are and where you’re coming from – a snapshot for the admissions officers to look at as they read your application,” according to Harvard University. 

Essay tutors are becoming popular among high school seniors, where an expert writer helps craft the perfect essay for applicants. Senior Chloe Counts had a writing tutor help with her personal essay. “I wrote it with the tutor and he basically was like, ‘just give me this and let me write it’, and he wrote it for me,” said Counts. “Then when we had to do it in my English class I rewrote it, took some of what he said, and some of the writing tips, but then made it my own. So I wrote it myself and I kind of disregarded what he told me.”

Writing tutors generally cost between $30 to$40 per hour, but it can range over $85 for a more experienced mentor. “It becomes edited by an adult who’s done this for years, and they know what colleges are looking for, but then it’s not you anymore,” said senior Brooke Beenhouwer. 

This puts students who can’t afford a tutor at a disadvantage. “A lot of money can get you more, so students who don’t have access to that aren’t going to have the same opportunities,” said Counts. 


It can also be argued that spending money how you choose is a personal right. There is no way of limiting applicants’ access to tutors. There is nothing truly illegal with the business and colleges have no way of knowing if the writer had a tutor helping. 

“Sure, we can all agree that it’s a rigged deck—that the kids whose parents can pay $150 for a few hours of my time are at an unfair advantage. But we could just as easily make the same argument about, say, regular meals, or any of the other benefits that middle and upper middle class kids enjoy.” (Slate, 2012)

The advantages of getting into a high-level college may also be temporary for those who heavily relied on a tutor for their personal essay. These students may suffer more when forced to be independent, or fail out of college. 


The United Kingdom is currently considering a bill banning companies that ‘ghostwrite’ essays for students in school. These ‘essay mills’ charge a fee based on the quality of work. While this is not the same thing as hiring a writing tutor to help with personal essays for college, it is clear that there is a growing business in fraudulent writing. Although this bill is currently only being considered in the UK, the legislation, if passed, could influence U.S. policy. 

“[One website] advertised that it would provide a 15,000-word piece of masters degree coursework in 60 days for £4,000, “ (Financial Times, 2021). “On its website, it also said that their service is not cheating and students should ‘use our custom essays as a guide to direct [their] studies’.”



Rabinowitz, Elana. “Put the Personal Back in the College Essay: Column.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 1 Nov. 2016,


“21 Million Sessions.” Online Tutoring, Homework Help and Test Prep in Math, Science, and English –,


Staton, Bethan. “UK Clamps down on Academic Fraud with ‘Essay Mills’ Ban.” Subscribe to Read | Financial Times, Financial Times, 5 Oct. 2021,  


Chamberlain, Shannon. “A College Admissions Tutor Spills All! but There’s Not Much to Spill.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 30 Nov. 2012,