This particular essay draft was different

IMG-8078One evening in late August, a rising high school senior brought over an amazing draft of a personal essay for the Common Application. Here in lies the rub: she wrote 789 words, and the prompt calls for 650 words. She is applying to several competitive universities, so her eloquent writing style will impress the admission reps, and her story will carry the reader’s attention to the concluding statement. It was as if she created the most beautiful cake, yet knew that only a portion of it would ever be enjoyed.

In my decade of experience working with student on college applications, writing a first draft with more words than necessary is most often a good thing. Reviewing the essay and prompt with my students allows them to select their most important statements, often eliminating repeated ideas as well as tangents. This particular essay draft was different – it was whole.

My student was so brave! She set aside her emotional attachment to the art she created to keep to the task and word count at hand. As she stepped off my porch on that summer evening, I complimented her, affirming that the edit she performed under my guidance was very difficult. She looked back at me, thoughtfully reflecting on her enormous effort completed while keeping true to her writing. Pausing to thank me, she smiled knowingly, and then walked off into one of her final summer evenings before senior year.

Michelle Machiele

Michelle lives in Ann Arbor, MI and is passionate about helping students in transition, as well as Italian baked goods. htttps://


April newsletter

Happy Spring to my College Apps Families!

So here we are, only weeks away from the May 1 deadline for college deposits. Some of my students have finalized plans, while others are submitting additional applications this week. This is an exciting time of year for me as my junior class has started their application appointments too!

The most I can wish for my seniors is to have a choice in college options by April of senior year. Looking forward to hearing how your family is doing as college deposit day nears. Please free free to reach out to me for short conversations from 7:30AM – 10:30PM.

The Class of 2018 has many choices for college admissions – hard work is paying off! In addition to acceptances, my 2018 seniors have received $1,123,000 in scholarship offers – this is nearly half of my students’ total offers of $2.5 million dollars. This number will grow as a few students are hearing of scholarship offers in the next two weeks.

College visits for admitted schools   Please be sure to visit your top choices for college soon, if you have not done so already. Talk with campus reps, and get off the beaten path to get a feel for the culture of each college.

Mark the completion of the college apps journey   Be sure that you mark the moment as a family when your student makes their college decision. Often in our culture we head back to work before celebrating an accomplishment. College applications are more complex than ever, so be sure to celebrate the end of this journey with your son or daughter.

Facebook    My Facebook page is updated often, please ‘like’ the page to receive timely information:

College Application Road Ahead session on April 22, 3:00-4:00PM    Please pass along an invitation to my next info session: High school students and parents are invited to this informative group session with neighbors & friends! (No fee for this group session.) Group sessions are intended to give families a clear picture of what could be done each year of high school to improve your chances of admission to your dream colleges, as well as accessing available scholarship opportunities. Please RSVP for location information:

Online calendar    Please keep utilizing my calendar to set appointments:

Feel free to contact me as you have questions – this is an important time for our seniors.

Warm regards,  Michelle

Newsletter for mid-November 2017

Hello to my college apps families!

My heart is so full of joy as today I received an email with news that one of my students received a scholarship offer for $88,000 from Loyola University. Please happy dance with me! I appreciate the efforts of each of my families – it is an honor to know your family and travel with you on this exciting path to your child’s future.  Scholarship tally for my families is now over $1.3 million.

We rounded the corner in application season as we are now in mid-November. Please keep in mind that there is plenty of time to apply to more schools!

Sharing a list of schools that my students have applied to so far this year. This list may inspire you to apply to another school, especially for those searching for scholarships. (Note: each year, Wittenberg University offers a full scholarship for one Washtenaw County student.)

For more ideas of colleges, go to the “Home” tab on my website 7 scroll down to see the  “Success Stories” College Acceptances map. I will keep updating this map over time, so let me know as you hear back from colleges.

Keep utilizing my calendar to set appointments:
I will be available the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.

Feel free to email and call/text.

Warm regards,

college name and website
Bethel University
Butler University
Calvin College
Case Western Reserve University
Central Michigan University
Chapman University
Cornell University
DePaul University
Duke University
Eastern Michigan University
Georgetown University
Grand Valley State University
Harvard University
High Point University
Hope College
Indiana University
Kalamazoo College
Kenyon College
Kettering University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Miami University (Oxford Ohio)
Michigan State University
Michigan Technological University
New York University
Northwestern University
Ohio State University
Purdue University
University of Michigan
University of Michigan–Dearborn
University of Minnesota
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Notre Dame
University of Pennsylvania
University of Texas at Austin
University of Utah
University of Wisconsin
Vanderbilt University
Villanova University
Washington University in St. Louis
Wayne State University
Wesleyan University
Western Michigan University
Wheaton College
Wittenberg University

Newsletter for November 2017

Hello to my college apps families! November 1st (a major deadline for many college applications) is almost here! See information below for November information and ideas. 

Keep utilizing my calendar to set appointments:

Warm regards, Michelle 

Follow up with each college  Follow up with each of your colleges to be sure that they have received all materials needed to process your application (transcript, test scores, recommendations, main application, etc.).

  • For colleges with November 1 deadlines, TODAY is a great day to call the college or check your status online if available.
  • If you find that something is missing, ask clarifying questions as to the best way to get the information to the college as soon as possible.

Advisor role on the Common Application Many families have listed me as an “Advisor” on the Common Application, which has been terrific to review your information & essays to catch mistakes and make corrections! Please be sure to notify me as each essay is ready for review (main essay as well as essays for each college). To edit information, students and I have connected via phone, FaceTime video, Google Docs to edit as needed. For more information on this new role,

FAFSA Parents and students who have not filled out the FAFSA, now is a great time to do this together.

Students and Parents  Please feel free to text/email/call me as needed. A few minutes for us to chat/clarify/brainstorm/celebrate/comfort together can take away the pain of college applications. Most days, I am available 8:00AM until about 11:00PM, and will get back to you quickly if you need to leave a message.

Speaking of celebrating  Do take time to celebrate milestones in the college application process together! It seems like the deadlines never end, so mark the milestones between start and finish to help keep up the energy. Examples of families marking the milestones together include happy dancing in the kitchen, a special dessert, and a walk around the block together in the evening.

I LOVE to receive texts from students marking when they apply, and I send them virtual confetti in reply. Please call/text/email news of applications submitted, replies received, and scholarships offered. I like to keep a running tally – so far my clients have received  +$1,281,920 in scholarship offers.

Website update  As of October 30, the Paypal link on my website will be working again – thank you for your patience as I know this is a convenient way for many families to pay. You may access online hourly payments (not for packages though) on my website:

For families with a monthly hour-tally, I will send out invoices after the November 1 deadline has passed.

It’s not over yet – still many applications to go!  Keep applying to colleges in November and beyond as many wonderful opportunities are out there. I know a student who learned about his dream college in January of his senior year of high school. He applied and was accepted to the college as well as the college’s soccer team.

It is a pleasure to know so many families supporting their students, and I look forward to talking with you. Thank you for all you are doing together at home!



Newsletter for October 2017

Hello to my college apps families! Here comes October – see information below. 

Keep utilizing my calendar to set appointments:

Warm regards, Michelle 

Note regarding November 1 deadlines: Did you know that it takes weeks to process your materials after you click submit? Put your best foot forward for a

  • deadline of November 1, complete your applications by October 16
  • deadline of Thanksgiving, complete by November 6
  • deadline of Winter Break, complete by December 8

 New on the Common Application – good news!   An “Advisor” is a new type of recommender for your Common Application. To add Michelle Machiele as an Advisor to preview your Common Application with you, add email address

– If you receive support from advising and community-based organizations, you will be able to work with those counselors just as you work with your school-based counselors and teachers within the application.

– Advisors will then be able to manage their caseloads and view student progress within the Common App system.

– In addition, if you wish to do so, you will be able to share a view of your in-progress application (read-only) with your school counselor, advisor, or mentor.

– If you choose to invite an Advisor, that action will remain private. The Advisor invitation and profile information will not be visible to a your colleges or any other invited Recommender.

Transcripts  Check with your high school counselors to be sure of the process for sending your high school transcripts to colleges. For example, Ann Arbor Public School high schools have families utilize Parchment to send transcripts to colleges.

Test scores   Per Ann Arbor Public Schools, scores sent from Ann Arbor Public Schools are considered “unofficial.” Students are responsible for requesting official test scores be sent to the colleges to which they are applying. Scores can be sent during test registration with the testing company, or at a later time (allow 1-2 weeks for colleges to receive scores). See the testing company websites. (For SAT, go to the College Board website, click on ‘SAT tab’; SAT dropdown ‘Scores’; ‘Send Score Reports to Colleges.’)

 FAFSA  The FAFSA opens on October 1, 2017.  From experiences with my own children receiving scholarships, colleges asked if we filled out the FAFSA before giving our children the scholarships. I encourage my families to fill out this information on the official government website. Beware of copycat websites!

Common Application Personal Statement Essay: The Beauty of Question #2

IMG_5404.JPGAt a party last evening, I met a university student who is interning for a friend. I told the intern that I am a College Application Coach and one of the high school students I’m working with is applying to the exact university and program where he is enrolled. I asked about the intern’s college application essays, specifically what was the theme of his Common Application personal statement. Yes, I knew this was one of many essays the intern had written years ago.

This is a fun icebreaker question, especially when meeting college students at a party – try it yourself sometime. Many people remember the theme of their college admissions personal statement essay. It turns out that the question the intern answered had the theme of a lesson learned from a failure or obstacles. The student told me a quick synopsis of the essay, and we instantly bonded. Obviously he was successful in his application and in life.

With five prompts to choose from, only 17% of applicants write on the Common Application Question #2, the ‘lesson learned from failure’ question. This question allows students to write reflectively, to beautifully rise above life’s circumstances, and demonstrate proof in the pudding by moving forward.

My advice to students is to write a draft essay on Question #2. After the brave first draft, read the prompt again and make sure that you answered the question, specifically the part about learning from experience. Before submitting your essay, show your draft to someone who will be somewhat critical of your writing to get feedback on how clearly you communicated your ideas.

Be memorable.

Michelle Machiele, mother of four, provides college admissions coaching and application advice. From her 2015-2016 students, 100% attend the college of their choice and 30% received generous scholarships. (This is the second blog in a series on Common Application personal statement essays.)


Common Application Personal Statement Essay: The Slippery Slope of Question #1


Students have a choice of five prompts when writing their essay for the Common Application. In 2015-2016, forty seven percent of applicants submitted an answer for question number 1, making it the most common essay submitted: “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”

From essay drafts that I’ve read, question #1 has the slipperiest slope of the five. Writing college essays can put people in an emotional state. In responding to Question #1, students should watch for taking up precious word count describing other people and events of the past (such as parents’ divorce). Focusing on other people may prove a missed opportunity to submit an essay featuring the student. The majority of the essay spent on ideas such as ‘what did you did about an incident?’ and ‘what resources did you engaged?’ will prove helpful to college application reviewers.

My advice for students who want to write about a hardship in the past is to write if you must, and then set aside the essay. Spend time on another essay prompt describing who you are and differentiating yourself. When well rested, revisit both essays with someone you trust to be somewhat critical of your writing, and then choose which essay to submit.

Choice is good.

Michelle Machiele, mother of four, provides college admissions coaching and application advice. From her 2015-2016 students, 100% attend the college of their choice and 30% received generous scholarships. (This is the first blog in a series on Common Application personal statement essays.)

Cooking for my First Students

A student arrived soaking wet and smiling from ear to ear – he biked over to our home in pouring rain. I hosted an Italian feast for my first undergrad students from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. My husband gave the young man some sweat pants and we put the wet clothes in the dryer during dinner.

In many ways, these college juniors and seniors are my kindred spirits – trying hard and sometimes missing, we keep going. A non-traditional student and mother of four, it took me eight years to finish a master’s degree, but I finished with a 3.98 GPA and joke with other moms in school that we only cry once each semester. Fortunate to finish my internship hours toward a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership as a teaching assistant for MO324 “Managing Professional Relationships” by Dr. Robert Pasick, it was a gift to cook for the juniors and seniors I hadn’t seen since last December when our class ended.

My high-energy husband pitched in to make coffee while I quickly stuck toothpicks through fresh basil, bits of tomatoes, and mozzarella. When the first student to arrive appeared in our kitchen early, I stopped cooking to give her my full attention. She was so animated, giving me a thank you card and telling my husband about her scholarship to study in Peru this summer (I wrote her letters of recommendation), and also how she lives with and cares for her grandparents while attending college. Not everyone from class could come on Sunday afternoon: some were working a campus job while others were overseas fighting homesickness at their first job after college.

Students shared ravioli, meatballs, whipped mascarpone over berries and talked about lessons from class, Dr. Rob, classmates that we kept in contact with since the last day of class, as well as future plans. During exercises in class, a high achieving young lady became passionate about nonprofit work, so she pursued City Year. Her new employer will pay her a 60% salary to work at a nonprofit in New York City before she starts her job at a big bank in The Big Apple. Another student is a first generation college student, whose next step is working at LinkedIn in Silicon Valley. Her parents are so excited as she is the first in her family to move away from their small town. We talked about many young people working +50 hours a week, and I wished we had covered more material during class on self-care in the transition to employment.

My favorite quote of the evening: “Before you go to college, people tell you it’s going to be the best four years of your life, with parties and all. It’s not. There are bumps in the road, and it’s a lot of hard work.” In a class of forty-one students, three of us lost loved ones that semester. Students interviewed for scholarships and jobs that they didn’t get. Funny how no body says, ‘College – yeah, hard things will happen and you will figure out how to keep studying anyway.’ Remarkably resilient people…such a lovely graduation gift for me to have my first students around our dining room table.


Michelle Machiele

Michelle lives in Ann Arbor, MI and is passionate about helping students in transition as well as Italian cheeses.

https://career-advice-for-college-students.comhttps://college-essay-help.comScreen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.26.44 AM

Keep calm!

College application time is exciting yet stressful. Keep calm by reaching out to me. Drawing on my experiences from more than 1,000 student advising meetings, I am able to assist both students and parents. From essay editing to application strategy, I’m here for your family.

Looking forward to helping you “Keep Calm!”Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 11.04.19 AM


Aug. 12, 2015 – College Application session for families, please RSVP to

Aug. 12, 2015 – College Application session for families, please RSVP to

This is a very exciting time of year – sunshine, swimming pools, and the Common Application! Please pass along to your friends that on the evening of Aug. 12, 2015, I will host a College Application session for families. Rising seniors and their parents will learn strategies in applying to colleges, common bumps in the road for the Common Application, and be inspired to go for that reach school. More than 100 people have attended this session in the past few years. Please RSVP to

Be sure to check out the list of colleges that my students have been accepted to: