The College Application Essay Workshop

In this two-day workshop, students go from having no idea what to write to completing a compelling essay that showcases their leadership, growth and unique story.

Imagine watching your child open a stack of college admission decision envelopes and each one contains a letter that says, “Accepted.”

Your heart bursts with pride knowing that all their hard work has paid off and that they'll be taking that first step towards a great career.

You start dreaming about your child’s future after college: traveling to exotic locations, having the means to pay for whatever they want, and making a big impact on the world doing that thing that brings them joy.

You’ve been thinking about it since the day they were born: “Which college will my child go to? A small liberal arts school? A large public school? An ivy league?”

And, you’ve been planning for college for years. You’ve likely looked up ways to pay for college Googling until 2AM, left work early to drop your child off to after school programs, and chauffeured them to and from activities — all while knowing that these endless sacrifices will give them the best future possible.

Hi, I'm Mary Grace Gardner. As a college admissions and career coach, I help your child stay organized with their applications, stand out from the crowd, and increase their chances of getting into their dream school all while helping them develop the confidence and self worth that they can carry with them throughout their career.

After getting accepted into the nation’s most competitive universities like UCLA, Yale, and Johns Hopkins, working with students over the past 10 years, and spending time on the admissions team for the University of California, Berkeley, I know exactly what it takes for your child to stand out from thousands of other students.

Using everything I’ve learned from reading hundreds of college applications, I take your child step by step through the application essay writing process, help them identify their strengths, and will teach them skills that will help them succeed in college.

When your child submits college applications in the fall, you want to be sure their application stands out, highlights their strengths, and grabs the attention of the admissions committee.

You and your child have such busy schedules. You want to see your child get a head start on the application process, know exactly what to write, and not get overwhelmed by the process.

Simply put, you want to see your child succeed.

After reading hundreds of college applications as an admissions committee member and helping dozens of students prepare for college, I know

  • You’re invested in your child’s success through tutoring, test prep and summer programs with the hopes that it will increase their chances of getting into a good college.
  • You have to stay on top of things to make sure your child gets good grades and strong test scores while still having time for friends and family.
  • You want to be supportive of your child and will do whatever it takes to ensure their success even if it means tapping into something that they don’t see themselves
  • You’re tired of feeling like you have to tip-toe around whenever you talk about applying to college in order to avoid an explosive reaction from your child.
  • You worry that there’s a chance that your child won’t get into their top choice school and land a job of their dreams once they graduate.

The landscape of college applications has changed since you went to school and you want to get straight to the right answers. If this sounds like your experience as a parent, you are in the right place. Nearly all parents of high-school students heading towards graduation worry the same way. During these last few months, with your child living at home before heading to college, the decisions you make now will impact the course of their lives.

After dedicating years to making sure your child has what they need to be successful as an adult, you find yourself perplexed that your child wants to push back on your attempts to be helpful as they prepare to apply for college. Simple questions like, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “Which schools are you applying to?” are sometimes enough to set your child off into a ball of stress.

You know that your child has the potential to be whatever they want to be, so you do whatever it takes to help them live up to that potential. Even if it means sacrificing your own time so your child becomes your top priority.

The truth is, you’re no longer sure how to best help them get into their dream school, but you want to make sure they have every chance possible.


I work with the hard working students who want to get into their ideal college, land a successful career, and make a positive difference in the world.

I know you’ve already tried to do it on your own: searched “how to apply to college” on Google, coerced your child to meet with the high-school counselor, and asked your network of friends and family for advice.

But, you’re not sure what to do with this information overload. And, you want your child to be directly guided through the steps so that they get the best information out there to improve their chances of getting into their dream school.

Not only are you already super busy, but you know it’s critical for your child to go through these steps themselves and learn how to be more independent before heading off to college.

Your child might even insist that they can figure it out on their own. But, each time you ask about their progress, they still have so much left to do.

When you suggest topics they can write about in their college admissions essays, they give you that apathetic look and deliver that audible sigh that annoys you to know end — and terrifies you.

So, you find yourself anxiously letting time go by as that college application checklist continues to grow.

So, what does your child need to secure that competitive edge in the college application process?

A step-by-step guide that is customized to their needs.

When your child knows exactly which steps to take in a realistic timeline, they’ll be less overwhelmed and less intimidated by the process.

And when they get a head start on writing stunning college application essays, it leaves more time to focus on school, extracurricular activities, and other important steps in the college application process.

Most importantly, they’ll also get a chance to enjoy precious family time during their final year at home before leaving for college.

Take a moment and imagine:

  • Watching your child excitedly call their grandparents to tell them they got into their top choice college
  • Sharing with your friends the list of colleges your child was accepted to
  • Seeing your child’s confidence boost as they realize they can achieve whatever they set their mind to
  • Hearing the incredible educational experiences your child will have at the college of their choosing
  • Feeling a sense of relief knowing your child is on track to get a degree at a great school and land a job

These results can be within your reach if you’re ready to invest the time and energy now to reap the rewards in the near future.

These live, remote workshops are for busy, high-potential students looking to get accepted into their dream school. During this highly interactive course, your child will learn exactly what admissions teams look for in a college application essay when deciding who gets rejected and who get accepted.

I’ll teach your child how to identify a list of unique stories and select the best ones to write about.

I’ll hold your child accountable from brainstorm to first draft and will let you know what you can do to help.

I’ll give your child the tough love, detailed feedback their friends, teachers or parents won’t be able to give.

I’ll help your child with a structured approach that’s easy to follow and shows them exactly what they need to do to make their college application essays stand out from thousands of other applicants. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Module 1: Organize and brainstorm

In this module, your child will learn:

What the essay prompt is REALLY asking for (it’s definitely not what you might think)

How to organize all the essays they have to write so that they can use one essay for multiple applications without sounding generic

How to brainstorm the best topics that showcase their unique accomplishments

Module 2: Why should they accept you?

In this module, your child will learn:

How to write their “why” (Why this school? Why this major? Why this career path?)

How to describe why the college of their dreams should pick them….in ONE sentence (you can use this in college interviews, too!)

How to create an organized outline that will make writing their essay a breeze

Module Three: Craft a winning essay

In this module, your child will learn:

Exactly what colleges are looking for in an essay and the things that drive them crazy

How to overcome procrastination and get the first draft of their essay done using fun and simple ways to stay on track

How to turn their outline into an essay the college admissions team can’t resist

Module Four: Polish your essay

In this module, your child will learn:

How to revise their draft into an essay they’re proud of using tactics they can repeat again and again

How to eliminate meaningless fluff, deliver concise messages that make an impact, and stay within the word count limit

How to finalize their essay so that it is grammatically error free

For added motivation, as a reward for taking action, students who complete all assignments by the deadlines and complete a workshop feedback form will be entered into a raffle for fun prizes.

Virtual Workshop dates: Aug 17 - 18

1pm - 4pm PST

2 Day Workshop + Office Hours


One week of instructor guided prep 

Myers Briggs interest and career assessment to help spark essay ideas

A seat at the two day live workshop 

Four group office hours after the workshop (Saturdays at 1PM PST 8/24 -9/14)

A step-by-step approach on how to stand out on application essays and increase their chances of getting into their ideal colleges


I created the College Application Essay Workshop for busy parents like you who want their child to have a competitive edge and get into their dream school, but don’t have the time or patience to sift through the endless pile of information out there.

As an overachiever in high school, I remember how stressed out I was about the application process. With a schedule full of AP classes, club meetings and sports, a simple question from my well-intentioned parents about applying to college was enough to push me over the edge.

I quickly recognized that I needed a system to keep me organized, on track and hitting goals so that I could get everything done without the stress. I got accepted into great schools and ended up in a career I love.

After hearing parents and students each year share the same struggles to balance it all while preparing for college, I noticed they were feeling short on time, unsupported and overwhelmed.

I knew that the process could be so much simpler. And, as someone who has been on both sides of the fence — as a student who got accepted into top colleges and as an admissions reviewer for the #1 public university in the country – I know exactly what it takes for your child to get accepted into their dream school.

In contrast to other options out there, the College Application Essay Workshop is a mentorship program designed to specifically meet the needs of busy parents like you, while leveraging the technology your child already uses.

You won’t have to drive your child to and from sessions. Instead, they’ll be able to watch classes, submit work and ask questions on their phone, computer or tablet. Imagine seeing your child on their phone and knowing they are using social media to write their college application essays!

You’ll have an expert guiding your child through the process, and I’ll keep you posted on what you can do to make sure they stay on track.

By the time our work together is done, your child will have the best chance of being accepted into their dream school.

I’ve designed this program so that your child can get the specific guidance, feedback and accountability they need without having to pay high prices for a tutor with an outdated approach, claiming to know the secrets of getting accepted into college just because they got accepted into college. They are missing half the picture.

With this program, you can stop those searches for “How to write a college application essay” on Google — the advice you read was conflicting, anyway.

And, you won’t have to buy thick college essay books, chase down teachers or counselors to walk you through the process, or hope your child will figure it out.

Pre-work begins the week before the workshop. Students should expect to budget at least 30 minutes per day to complete required tasks.

Money back guarantee: If you are unhappy for any reason after the first lesson, I offer a full money back guarantee. Show me your child did all the work and I’ll issue you a refund. I’ll even cover the processing fees.

 This program is perfect for your child if:

  • You’re a busy parent who wants to see your child succeed
  • Your child has a lot of potential, but just needs a nudge in the right direction
  • You’ve tried researching things on your own, but don’t know what specific advice to give your child on how to write their college application essays

This program is not for you if:

  • You have the extra time to read all the college prep books, organize the information you find online and edit your child’s essays on your own.
  • Your child doesn’t have the minimum GPA and test scores required by the schools on their “safe list”
  • Your child really doesn’t want to go to college and isn’t willing to put in the work.

I know how much is on the line. I’m so thankful my parents gave me the support I needed in high school. I give them credit for the for the great colleges I got accepted to, the networks I created and the dream job I landed afterward. Being able to graduate debt-free on my own, buy a car and home shortly after college, and live a life I love was all possible thanks to their investment in me.

I know you want the same for your child. If you are ready to take action — to stop guessing what your child should do to increase their chances of getting into their dream school.


Check out what my students and their families have to say:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. If my child cannot make the live classes, can they still participate?
A. Yes. The classes will be recorded and available online. They can be watched any time during the two day program. 

Q. Is this safe?
A. Safety is my top priority. If I catch anyone cheating, plagiarizing or bullying, I will ban that student from the program and no refund will be issued.

Q. What if my child has no idea what to write about? Or, has too many ideas?
A. I’ll help your child brainstorm all possible topic ideas and narrows it down to the best ones.

Q. Can you guarantee that my child will get accepted to school “X?”
A. No, no one can guarantee that your child will get accepted to a specific school, and if they do, it’s probably a scam. There are many factors that determine whether or not your child gets accepted into a certain university such as: grades, test scores, awards and extracurricular activities. What I can guarantee is that if your child follows my program, they will increase their chances of getting accepted.

Q. Will my child have access to the online class recordings after the two day workshop?
A. Once the two day workshop is over, they will no longer have access to the recorded materials. To encourage action and prevent procrastination, all deadlines will be strictly enforced.

Q. What if we want to continue working with you after the workshop?
A. Four group office hours will be available after the workshop. The option to enroll in additional office hours will be available for those in need of more support.

Virtual Workshop dates: Aug 17 -18

1pm - 4pm PST

2 Day Workshop + Office Hours


One week of instructor guided prep 

Myers Briggs interest and career assessment to help spark essay ideas

A seat at the two day live workshop 

Four group office hours after the workshop (Saturdays at 1PM PST 8/24 - 9/14)

A step-by-step approach on how to stand out on application essays and increase their chances of getting into their ideal colleges



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