Don't Even Think of Starting College Apps
Until You've Read This

Whew! That load of AP tests and finals are finally over for student. The hardest year (junior year) is over, and summer has just peeked its head around the corner.

You’re now the parent of a rising senior. That means the next big thing is coming…the most dreaded thing yet…the lifetime event you’ve heard so much about from other parents and older students…

College applications.

Does it feel like your entire life lately has been leading up to this? All those years your student put in at school, all those endless hours cramming for tests, writing papers, participating in sports and community service, playing in Marching Band or percussion—that entire resume of impressive achievements all comes down to this:

“Will my student get into his/her dream college?”

Get Into Your Dream College

As a parent, you’ve done your share of the heavy lifting. Much appreciation goes out to you. You’ve dragged yourself out of bed to prepare lunch and drive your kid to school every morning. You’ve pulled yourself into countless parent-teacher conferences. You’ve worked hard to be able to hire help for your student—tutors, summer classes, online programs—and supported your child through all their activities.

Because you want your student to be successful. You dream that they will surround themselves with intelligent friends and teachers who push them to achieve their full potential.

Imagine for a moment that all your blood, sweat, and tears actually paid off. You proudly declare to your friends and family that your student is going to Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, UCLA, USC, or another perfect college. A smile spreads across your child’s face as he or she opens the email that reads...

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the college of your dreams! You’ve been admitted!”

Your student has to re-read those lines a couple times to believe it, but the words are as true as the dedication you’ve given them all their life. They were admitted! Suddenly, they burst into excitement, screaming, “Oh my God!!! I got in!!” They run to hug you, maybe for the first time in a long while, and tell you how thankful they are for your love and support all these years.

You couldn’t be prouder. It’s the happiest season of your life as college acceptance letters roll in, one after the other like clockwork. Thick acceptance envelopes overcrowd the junk mail and tumble out of the mailbox.

Before you can even put down your keys when you return home, your student runs to you, unable to contain themselves. They can’t wait to surprise you with the good news.

There’s a bright future ahead, but you want to make sure you give your student every advantage, so doors will open. The most selective and high-paid or fulfilling jobs. The most lucrative scholarships and competitive graduate programs. You want to enable them with all the opportunities, resources, and network that only a top college can provide.

Imagine if your student had a reaction like this:

Yes, that was one of my students last year…among the hundreds of successful students I have helped over the past decade or more.

You are incredibly proud of your student, not only because they got into their #1 college, but because of who they are and who they will become.

The options are boundless, and that starts with a successful application strategy and captivating essays.

Because NOT every impressive student gets accepted.

Overwhelmed by the Admissions Process?

You’ve heard there’s so much to do. You know it’s important to start early, but you don’t even know where to begin or how to help your kid. Researching schools, writing 15 or more college essays and supplements, requesting teacher recommendation letters, creating a resume, filling out extracurricular activities, preparing for interviews, visiting the schools, and so much more. It’s overwhelming!

What if someone could help your child organize this whole process, keep him on track with all the deadlines, motivate him, and keep him accountable? Someone who has been through this process and has seen how all the pieces of the admissions puzzle fit together.

Having helped hundreds of families through this confusing process, I can tell you the biggest, most time-consuming piece of the application is the essay. Well, there’s actually far more than one. The typical student will write anywhere from 10 to 20 essays, supplements, and personal statements by the time they’re done.

Who has the time?!

Summer has barely started, but you know if your student is not careful, that time will slip away like satin through his fingers. They’ve got a summer internship or research gig, or maybe they’re enrolled in a long summer class or have to study again for the SAT or ACT. Time management is critical.

And senior year is no cakewalk either. Their schedule is loaded with AP classes, a relentless percussion or swimming schedule that eats up the whole weekend, and endless other club commitments. How is he going to find the time to fill out the apps effectively? Can he even write a good essay and present himself in the best way possible?

But they are oh-so-important. The essays are one of the ONLY things that lets your child come to life off the page. Well-written personal statements turn your child into an actual person and reveal their personality, beyond the numbers (GPAs, test scores, etc.).

Admission officers really do look forward to reading these essays—as long as the story is captivating. The problem is, most students have no clue what to write or where to start!

Alexis L., Viewpoint School
Accepted: UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Michigan, Boston University, Emory University, full scholarship to George Washington Univ., and more

"Before Peter, I was honestly lost about what to write about and how to even start my college application essays and supplements. I felt as though the college counseling team at my school wasn’t any help for me, and I wasn’t given any direction for the essays. I felt ashamed that I was behind my peers in the application process, especially because I felt as though I had no idea how to start or what to do. I became very stressed and felt overwhelmed by all of the work I would have to do on my own, especially because I had no idea how to write a college essay. I’m the oldest child in my family, so this process was new to my parents and to me.

The best things about working with Peter were his eloquence in his writing and the fact that he was able to help me get everything done in a very short amount of time. Peter is an amazing writer, so his tips and approach that he taught really did help me formulate a very well-written and organized essay.

Before I met with Peter, I didn’t realize I could write about a topic that encompassed everything I did extracurricularly in high school, and never realized that minuscule experiences would be so impactful in writing. He helped me make my story more intriguing and vivid, and was able to help formulate a well-written and flowing essay by helping me organize my own thoughts and experiences. Without Peter’s help, my success in this process wouldn’t have been possible, and I truly mean that!"

Your student constantly assures you that they’re brainstorming and thinking, but suddenly, months roll by and they still don’t have an idea. Nothing seems to be clicking.

Before they started working with me, many parents told me that every time they peeked in their child’s room, their kid was playing on the computer or on the phone, Instagramming or texting. They were always hanging out with friends, watching Netflix, or playing Xbox.

These parents desperately wanted to help their child get the ball rolling.

You Don't Want to Nag, But...

“When is my student going to start?” you might wonder.

Or, “How are they going to find the time?”

That pressure affects the entire family. The teenage years, as all parents know, are some of the most difficult. Maybe you’ve already begun to feel the effects. I’ve had countless parents tell me that just mentioning the word “college” makes their student irrationally upset. Their voice becomes irritable as they hiss, “Mom, stop nagging me!" or "Dad, I’ve got this college thing handled!”

But do they? Deep down, you really worry—do they truly have their college applications handled? No one wants to be the “bad guy,” but you wonder do they truly realize how much work there is to do? When will they begin to take college apps seriously?

What if someone could help motivate your student, someone that they’ll actually listen to and take advice from? Imagine if you could accelerate the process and flatten the learning curve, so your child could finish their essays quickly.

Carol DeMirjian, mother of Dominique DeMirjian from Campbell Hall
Accepted: University of Southern California (USC) - 1st choice - and more

"I was familiar with the angst that plagues parents as they enter the junior and senior years. I didn’t want that to be me. Peter came over and immediately both Dominique and I felt comfortable with him. He is bright and articulate, but also “gets” teenagers. Ok, so he went to Brown University (not too shabby), but beyond that you could tell he was dedicated to a successful outcome. Guess what? Yesterday, she was accepted to the University of Southern California. This is her dream school.

She took his advice, and I got to stay out of it and keep the relationship with my daughter intact. They worked for several weeks, adding and editing, fine tuning, but making sure the essay was HER voice. In the end, when I was allowed to read it, I found it thoughtful and eye opening, articulate, and raw. Peter and Dominique wrote about her learning differences in a positive way exposing her unique artistic process.

I am so forever grateful to Peter, not only for his guidance and expertise all along the way, but for making what could have otherwise been an unpleasant experience pretty relaxed. No won’t find it from him. I would recommend Peter with the utmost confidence. I plan on enlisting him again as my sophomore daughter prepares for her college process. He will get you through this potentially stressful time. He will make it so that you and your student survive!!!"

Cecilia Avila, mother of John Desan from the Stony Brook School
Accepted: Duke, Columbia, Cornell, Rice, Vanderbilt, Washington Univ. in St. Louis, and more

"This was not an easy journey, since my child is a typical, quite social teenager, and I had to become the bad cop in my family to maintain my child focused during this process and to complete this exhausting journey. But Peter helped alleviate this tension—he was not only a great friend to John, but an excellent mediator for my son and I. Peter helped my child and I keep a healthy relationship throughout the process.

After seeing Peter's comments/recommendations on College Confidential [the largest college forum around]...I felt that these were the issues my child had been struggling with and I contacted Peter. He worked with my child via Skype for several months, and my child not only improved his ACT score to a 34, but also his overall performance at school due to improvement in overall reading and writing skills.

During the college application process, Peter and my child brainstormed together, then my child wrote the essays, then Peter reviewed the essays in a critical but constructive way. Peter helped my child communicate authentically in powerful paragraphs. He really knows the ins and outs and what colleges are looking for. Thanks so much!!!!"

After helping polish hundreds of essays, I want to share the time-saving process that gets my students to jumpstart their brainstorming, zero in on the best details and organization, and tweak their words to maximize the emotional impact.

A Mountain of Contradicting Advice

There’s so much generic advice out there, but it’s all vague, contradictory, and unhelpful. Things like “Be yourself—write about what’s most important to you.” I mean, hello, Captain Obvious! Everyone already knows that because it’s common sense!

Here’s my favorite piece of useless advice: “Don’t write what you think colleges want to hear.”

Sorry, but the whole point of college essays is to impress the admissions officers, so you definitely want to write what they want to hear. The problem is, what most people THINK colleges want to hear is very different than what ACTUALLY appeals to them.

There’s no set formula like, if you mention X, Y, or Z, then they will love your essay. But there are certain essay structures and stories that are extremely effective at moving the needle towards “admit!”

What if your student had these specific insights? If he or she could work under the guidance of someone who has read thousands of college essays and can point out when something is too cliche or off track? Your child doesn’t have to write like the next Pulitzer Prize winner or a best-selling author, but they do need to pinpoint their greatest strengths and stories.

Whether Your Student is a Strong or Weak Writer, You Want to Get This Right

Maybe your student isn’t the strongest writer and struggles to express themselves. They need help brainstorming the right ideas. You’re proud of how much they’ve done, yet they don’t seem to think their accomplishments are a big deal to colleges. He’s just not sure what to write about or how to present himself in the best light.

Imagine your student sitting down with someone and having a heart-to-heart chat. In this conversation, the mentor guides the student through some of the most defining moments of his or her young life. He teases out those forgotten experiences and memories, those key qualities that make your student so unique.

Suddenly, a light bulb goes off as a wave of relief washes over your student’s face. They’ve identified a truly impressive story to tell, and your student is actually excited to begin to write now!

Or perhaps your student loves to write and is great at it! But this is such a high-stakes application that you want to make sure they get it right. Whether they’ve got 100 ideas rattling in their head or are faced with the greatest case of writer’s block in history, imagine if your student could be guided through a reflective brainstorming session to hone in on the perfect story. All they needed was a little help identifying the right topics and the creative angles to take.

A sense of clarity pours over them as their bodies visibly relax. Now they’re ready to write those authentic, emotional essays that get at the heart of who they are.

How Can My Student 
Stand Out?

For the past 16 or 17 years, you’ve provided everything you could to raise a smart, happy, caring, and ambitious student.

You’ve taken your son or daughter to piano or violin lessons since they were 5. They’ve earned multiple recognitions and won national competitions. But you wonder, is it enough for college?

You’ve paid for all their expensive activities, like Marching Band, percussion, Speech and Debate, studio art classes, and theater costumes. But is it enough?

You’ve supported them through long basketball, volleyball, or swimming seasons. You’ve sacrificed your weekends to cheer them on at their games or drive them to faraway tournaments. But is it enough?

You’ve relentlessly reached out to your professional connections to secure a hospital or lab research internship for them. You found them a computer programming job. But is it enough?

You’ve sent them through the best SAT or ACT classes and paid for all their tutors. You’ve enrolled them in multiple summer classes. But is it all enough?

You really there anything else that can help them get into their dream college? The answer is yes, and it isn’t anywhere close to as difficult as all the wonderful opportunities you’ve already provided for your child.

With emotional essays that reveal your student’s greatest strengths, your student will sear themselves in the minds of the admission officers. Your student will be unforgettable, so when it comes time to make final admission decisions, your son or daughter’s name will be at the tip of their tongues.

Your student’s essays are the one tool that transforms their application from a pile of lifeless numbers and stats to a real, live person. These essays drive what admissions officers feel.

But what do they generally see? The same generic stories about leadership and volunteering. The same unoriginal takes on being captain of the volleyball or basketball team. The stories all seem to blend together because they’ve been told a hundred thousand times. The committee can’t tell Jimmy apart from Henry, or Sabrina apart from Megan.

Admission officers aren’t some heartless, stoic sentinels trying to keep kids out of college. No, they are real human beings with emotions who desperately YEARN to admit students, real students they can connect with. So if your student’s essays can touch, inspire, or impress them, then chances of admission are looking very good.

You've Done the Hard Work, Now Package It Right

You and your student have done all the hard work with all those years at school and all those activities. But colleges don’t know that yet. They don’t see all the late nights your son stayed up studying for his Calculus test, or the all-nighters your daughter pulled to revise her history paper. They weren’t there as he poured hundreds of hours into organizing his Boy Scout Eagle project, or as she dedicated every weekend to reading to kids and organizing a citywide literacy project. They weren’t there when you were stressing out to find ways to help your student.

You want colleges to know just how amazing your student is, and the best way to do that is to make their achievements come to life with vivid essays. Resumes, grades, and test scores DON’T move people, but authentic stories DO.

Now it’s just time to package those achievements all up and present them in the most attractive way. If your student is a smart, caring, capable person, but things haven’t always been perfect on their record, then the essays can express his or her truly attractive qualities.

Or maybe your student does have top-notch grades, but you’ve heard the horror stories—kids with perfect GPAs and SAT or ACT scores, along with a slew of impressive activities and leadership positions still get rejected. Memorable essays truly separate the wheat from the chaff, letting your exceptional child stand out like an alpha wolf from the pack.

First impressions matter. If you’re worried about getting this final step right to package and present your student in the most impressive light, then let me guide you through…

The Hyper-Competitive
College Landscape

College admissions has become viciously competitive these last few years. In 2016, Stanford’s admit rate was an impossible 4.69%. Harvard 5.9%. Princeton 7.9%. Yale 6.8%. Berkeley 14.8%. UCLA 17.3%. USC 16.5%.

Compare that to just 8 years ago, when acceptance numbers were roughly DOUBLE! This isn’t just happening at the elite schools either. It’s happening across the board:

College NameOverall Acceptance % Today (2016)Overall Acceptance % in 2008
UC Berkeley14.8%21.5%
University of Southern California (USC)16.5%21.0%

And with the influx of international students that many colleges are actively recruiting, is it any wonder that the application process is the highest stress point of your young student’s life?

It’s a lose-lose situation. As more colleges join the Common Application (a single application that allows you to apply to up to 20 schools at once) and the UC schools make it easy to apply to all their campuses with a few mouse clicks, students have begun to apply to more colleges than ever. Every year, colleges receive a record high number of applicants, which in turn, means schools have to reject a record number of students.​

So the acceptance percentages plummet, sending everyone into a frenzy. Students hear about these insanely low admit rates, so they are compelled to apply to even MORE schools, thus perpetuating the cycle. Even the old “safety schools” aren’t looking so safe anymore, are they?

​With all these hundreds of thousands of shot-in-the-dark applicants, is there any way for your child to truly rise above the competition?​

The Surprising Rejections

You’ve heard the horror stories—students with perfect GPAs and SAT or ACT scores still get rejected, even by lower tier schools. Students are crushed, despite their incredible laundry list of accomplishments that make you scratch your head.

I hear these heartbreaking stories every year. Kids lock themselves in their rooms, refusing to eat dinner with their family anymore, literally crying for days as they plead with admission officers with emotional appeals or wait list letters.

These students beat themselves up as they wonder, “What did I do wrong??!”

The sad reality is, they didn't do anything wrong. In fact, they did everything they've been told...but they STILL were denied by all their dream schools.

The problem is, they’ve blindly followed the same generic advice. “Study hard, be a leader, be well-rounded.” All seemingly good advice, but it TOTALLY misses the mark of what colleges are REALLY looking for in their “must admit” candidates.

Colleges aren't looking for well-rounded students; they want well-rounded classes...made up of specialists. The best scientists and engineers, the most creative artists, the greatest future politicians, the top musicians. Think about it.​

​If you're the BEST at something, then you have a much higher chance of making the college famous in that field. But if you're "just okay" or even "pretty good" at everything, then you aren't likely to make the college famous in anything. The college essays need to reflect your strategic specialty.

Listen to this recent nightmare: A successful student from Arkansas was his school’s valedictorian (#1 out of 500+ people in his class). Perfect 2400 SAT score as a freshman, and 35 out of 36 on the ACT. Perfect 800s on four SAT Subject Tests and 790 in Spanish. He also maintained a perfect 4.0 unweighted GPA with a heavy load of AP courses.

​He was certainly a leader as well—president of his school, plentiful research internships, engaged in his community.

​Yet he was rejected by every single one of his top schools—Stanford, MIT, all the Ivy League schools, except for a slim-chance waitlist option at Yale. The only school that took him was the University of Arkansas, the ultimate safety school for someone of his caliber.

What caused his downfall? Somehow many students were able to get into the Ivy League, Stanford, and MIT...even with far less impressive grades/scores and activities.​

Clearly, there’s more to the story. In your gut, you probably know this. I want to share with you the strategies that have helped hundreds of my students get into their #1 school, including every Ivy League school, Stanford, MIT, Caltech, all the UC campuses, and more.​


The College Application Summit
An intensive workshop to get into your dream college.

"Dramatically skyrocket your child's admission chances and accelerate the process!"

For the past several months (perfected over a decade of 1-on-1 work with hundreds of students), I’ve been working hard with a team of expert college counselors to put together an intensive Summit workshop for motivated students.

We’ll cover all the strategies and pull back the curtain on every admission secret, so your child can get accepted, stat! We’ll cover everything from developing application strategies to writing authentic, emotional essays that scream “ADMIT!”

Imagine if your child were the most talked about candidate in the admissions boardroom, the one who’s so memorable that schools are fighting to admit your son or daughter.

Who Is Peter?

With 10+ years of essay coaching experience, I’ve helped hundreds of students identify and implement the best strategies that have gotten them into every single one of the top 25 schools in America and more, including the entire Ivy League, Stanford, Caltech, MIT, all the UC schools, USC, NYU, and top liberal arts colleges like Pomona.

I’m NOT your typical advisor who spews the same, tired advice, like “be authentic” or “write from the heart.” These are nice thoughts, but they aren’t tangible steps. It’s like telling someone, “Just be confident”—it doesn’t help. You need a concrete framework and guidance through a step-by-step system that shaves dozens of hours off this application process.

Work with someone who has actually succeeded in the process himself and graduated from Brown University (Ivy League), plus gained admission into every single University of California school, USC with merit scholarship, and so many more. Can you really afford not to work with someone who hasn’t been able to succeed in this himself?

I’m Peter Peng, the best kept secret in college admission essays, your personal writing coach. Not only was I voted by my competitive high school of 3,000 students as “Most Likely to be the Next New York Times Bestseller” and published in a Stanford anthology, but I’ve also studied creative writing at Brown and guided hundreds of students for over 10 years to produce amazing college essays that express the heart of who they are. Getting kids into college is my full-time job, so you can bet you’ll get deep essay insight.

Ever wonder why it is that certain students get in, while the “top” students are rejected left and right? I’ll show you how to stand out as the obvious choice, even in hyper-competitive fields like STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) or computer science...even without perfect GPAs or test scores.

The admissions game is rigged, but I can’t wait to share with you how to come up with winning essays.

Take a look at what my students and their parents have said:

Sylvia Hatfield, parent of Matthew Hatfield from Arcadia High School
Accepted: Harvard University, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and more

“There aren’t enough words to explain how grateful I am for Peter. In just a few short essay sessions, Peter expertly identified key points in my son’s life and got him to reflect deeply about the meaning of his experiences. Before finding Peter, we struggled to find topics and essays that would capture my son's sensitivities and best qualities. We needed to stand out, but we needed help.

Peter had no problem quickly discarding topics he knew would not be effective, and he drilled deep to find the impressive and unique details that truly painted Matthew as the intelligent, compassionate young man I know him to be. Just meeting for Peter for the first time, my son got so excited at what Peter was explaining. His eyes lit up, and under Peter’s mentorship and personal commitment, my son produced beautiful and poignant essays that truly moved everyone who read them. When he got the acceptance from Harvard, we were just floored! Peter is one-of-a-kind, truly an incredible writer and mentor!”

John K., The Buckley School
Accepted: Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Washington Univ. in St. Louis, UCLA, University of California (USC), New York University (Stern Business), and more

"I'm honestly speechless at what Peter has helped me accomplish. I'm naturally a picky person—almost a perfectionist. I almost never work with the same individual for an extended time, but Peter's skills and personal commitment are unparalleled. Peter not only went above and beyond my extreme expectations, but was a true friend who put personal care into making my dreams a reality.

I knew I needed to stand out, but I didn’t know how. I had great overall grades and scores, but essays were the one thing that would breathe life into my app. As more of a math/science guy, I have to confess that I’m a terrible writer and always feared English, my worst subject. But Peter’s patience and vast experience allowed him to quickly help me organize my thoughts and reflect on my life. He suggested so many creative and deep ideas. It was as if he knew my inner thoughts better than I did—because he knew just the perfect questions to ask to get me thinking in the right direction. He gave me more than direction and mentorship. In my moments of doubt, he gave me hope, backed up with complete competence.

His incredible writing skills and creativity truly shone through in the application process. He helped me map out my life and put the details together persuasively. Honestly, I didn’t know where to start or how to write a cohesive story. Before Peter, I was never the most eloquent and loathed to write, but his feedback completely upped the sophistication level of my writing, both in content and style. He even helped me earn multiple As for papers in English class, a subject I've always struggled with.

Peter's tremendous attention to detail helped us fine tune our strategies and make sure my application fit together as a whole. We came up with many unique, impressive essays that showed all the best parts of myself. Even though I had a thousand questions, he would not let any detail get past him, so I felt truly secure under his guidance.

Upon his recommendation, I even created a website that demonstrated why I thought I was a great fit for a particular college. It showed colleges why THEY should accept me. This is one of many examples of where his creative thinking paid off. The results were more than I dared dreamed. I got into a top Ivy League school, Columbia University, and can’t wait to go! My god, it would be impossible to overstate exactly how I felt when I saw my acceptance letter. My father, who runs an extremely successful business, told me that this was by far the happiest moment of his life.

In the end, Peter and I became true friends. He is constantly encouraging and advising me in life outside of just school and essays. He has been and will always be there for me, and I just can’t say enough how committed and great of a person he is. Working with Peter has by far been one of the greatest decisions I’ve made in my life. If you are a student looking to create incredible college essays, and be admitted to your dream college, I implore you to work with him. He IS the best out there, and I’d consider anyone lucky just to have the opportunity."

Ishaan Dev, Arcadia High School
Accepted: UC Berkeley (Chemical Engineering), UCLA, UC San Diego, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Illinois, UT Austin, and more

"Peter is a lot more to me than just a tutor. He is my mentor. He has stuck with me through thick and thin. While I was balancing Boy Scouts, Percussion, and other activities, Peter was always very supportive and took the time out of his schedule to answer my annoying questions and even shoot me reassuring texts…When I finally became an Eagle Scout, I was allowed to hand out little medals of gratitude to a select few who had made a lasting impact in my life. I spent hours forming and refining a list, taking names on and off. One was never erased though. And that was Peter Peng.

[He] helped me brainstorm ideas for my essay that not only had a lot of depth and meaning, but also conveyed who I was as a person. Peter worked alongside me through nights of typing and rewriting. He is a very calm and open individual, so it was easy for me to share my personal thoughts with him. He then took these thoughts and the bits and pieces of myself that I had shared with him and created a rough road map as a base for my essay. Peter’s tutoring gave me direction and confidence as I wrote applications for 15 universities. In January, I came out of my application-writing hibernation satisfied with the product I was sending to schools.

Peter is an absolutely exceptional counselor for essay writing. He not only helps with the editing, but also teaches his students to be better writers. I definitely produced some great college essays and improved dramatically in AP English after working with Peter.

The results were fantastic. With so many choices, I didn’t know where to go! Which, honestly, is not the worst problem to have. After talking to Peter, my parents, and friends, I happily decided to study chemical engineering at UC Berkeley."

Sam Lin, father of student from Harvard Westlake
Accepted: Cornell University (Early Action)

"Once, we had to revise an essay one day before the deadline due to an unforeseeable request from the university’s admission office. Peter, my daughter, my wife, a second college counselor, and I had all carefully checked the requirements, so we were shocked when the college suddenly required a brand new essay 24 hours before the application was due. I have never seen a college do such a thing before.

Not only this, but the new essay’s requirement was several pages long, so Peter worked diligently with our daughter to produce a wonderful, thoughtful essay. Just hours before the deadline, the college changed the requirements again! Suddenly, they said the essay had to be under 300 words—after Peter had helped us edit a two-page essay! All our hard work was lost because of the college’s last minute requests, but Peter gracefully navigated this nightmare situation. He quickly and effectively re-edited the essay to capture the core message, but still stay within the new word limit requirement. He demonstrated absolute confidence even under such pressure and relieved the worries of everyone involved.

Despite his busy schedule, Peter came to our house twice that day and worked with my daughter until midnight to meet the college’s last minute request. This kind of professional dedication and personal affection to his clients is truly inspirational. We were fortunate in having found Peter and being able to put trust for our daughter’s academic future in his hands."

What's Included at the Summit?

The College Application Summit is designed so your child will walk away with SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS—in a SHORT but action-packed period.

Whether it’s the Common Application, the UC application (which has SIGNIFICANTLY changed this year, 2016), or the new Coalition App that was introduced for the first time ever this year, we’ve got you covered.

WHAT: This is a live, interactive workshop, so students should prepare to get their hands dirty and do REAL work. They’ll get personalized attention because each workshop is intentionally limited to 15 students only.

We are offering two Summit locations. We will also be holding two Summits at each location, but the second round details are still being worked out (to be announced soon).​


WHERE: Arcadia Chamber of Commerce. 388 W Huntington Dr, Arcadia, CA 91007

WHEN:  Arcadia Round 1 enrollment now closed. Please check back for future Arcadia Summit dates.

June 20 - 29
(except Saturday and Sunday)
12:30pm - 4:30pm on June 20th
1:30pm - 5:30pm all other days

Before the Summit, all students are highly recommended to participate in an individual 45-minute consultation to help us get acquainted and strategize a personalized game plan (we'll reach out to schedule your consultation)​


WHERE: To be determined. Registrants will receive exact address via private email

WHEN: August 1 - 7
10:00am - 3pm | Aug 1 - 6 (30 min lunch)
10:00am - 3:30pm | Aug 7 (30 min lunch)

Before the Summit, all students are highly recommended to participate in an individual 45-minute consultation to help us get acquainted and strategize a personalized game plan (we'll reach out to schedule your consultation).

The Summit includes 35 hours of live instruction, split between two phases (both included):

  • ESSAY DEVELOPMENT PHASE (16 hours + one 90-min. consultation)
    Led by me, Peter Peng, from Young Prodigy
  • APPLICATION STRATEGY PHASE (16 hours + two 45-min. consultations)
    Led by Vince Garcia & Caryl Kristensen, expert counselors from Q&A College Admissions

There will be multiple 1-on-1 breakout sessions with me and the counselors for personalized advice during the Summit, plus 3 individual consultations (45 min. from Vince/Caryl before the event, another 45 min. from them after the event, and 90 min. from me after the event).

Essay Development Phase

By the end of this phase, students will have:

  • A solid idea, overall outline, and well-developed draft(s) for either the main Common App essay or two “UC Insights” questions
  • Specific strategies for the remaining essays: supplements, special requirements essays, and unique circumstances essay
  • Direct 1-on-1 access to me for a 90-minute consultation (to be used within 3 months after the Summit), in which I'll provide one of the following:
    • An in-depth, line-by-line analysis and feedback on essay drafts + several paragraphs of overall commentary with specific suggestions (delivered via email)
    • An in-person or Skype session to refine further essay strategies, work through writer's block, or fine-tune essay ideas and wording/organization

I’ll take Summit students through my 3-stage guidance process, proven by and tested with hundreds of students:


Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” By this he meant preparation is key.

Many people believe they need help with their writing, but actually, 80% of a strong essay is in the preparation before the first word is ever written. It’s about brainstorming a unique angle, framework, and message and presenting them authentically and emotionally.​


This is the nitty gritty. I help students go from conception to creation. We work closely to put pencil to paper, structuring the essay, phrasing ideas, and transitioning. I’ll advise students on areas that need to be expanded, condensed, or even eliminated.

The personal statement is not just a story from your life, but an exploration of the significance of these events in shaping your identity. I help students strike the right balance between beautiful writing and meaningful reflection.


In this stage, I help add that extra flair. I improve the overall sophistication and eloquence of the story by suggesting smoother transitions, phrasing, and other stylistic fixes. While I do check over grammar and spelling, the polishing phase is much more about refining the message, increasing clarity, and striking the right emotional tone.

Many students write well over the explicit word limit too, so I suggest ways to cut down the length without sacrificing readability or emotion.

Strategies for Every Essay Type

Furthermore, I cover the 4 major essay types and the strategies to approach each one (most students write about 10-20 essays in total).

Essay Type #1: Common App Main Essay/UC Personal Insight Essays—these are the most important ones. Much of the brainstorming done here will allow us to move rapidly through the additional essays, but the first essay generally takes the longest to perfect, especially as students are getting accustomed to the proper writing style.

​Essay Type #2: Supplementary Essays—many schools require multiple additional essays that ask why do you want to attend their school, what will you contribute, what academic course you’d want to create if you could, and other more creative prompts. I guide students on the proper approach for each specific question type. Some questions involve researching individual schools, which I teach students to do as well.​

Essay Type #3: Special Interest Essays—specific majors/programs may request additional essays such as artist statements, engineering essays, business ideas, etc. I devise specific strategies to approach each type of additional writing.

Essay Type #4: Special Circumstances—essays to explain poor grades or other unique situations.

Students will learn:

  • To identify & transform their life story into reflective, authentic, and emotion-infused essays that scream “Admit!"
  • To brainstorm the perfect college essay topics and decide the best answers for each prompt
  • To recycle their best essays to reduce the amount of writing and increase quality
  • To write an irresistible, but counterintuitive response to most popular supplement question: “Why do you want to attend our specific school?”
  • To inject personality and humor, without relying on gimmicks
  • To write eloquently by painting powerful images and telling moving stories
  • Simple word tweaks and organization methods to create unforgettable essays
  • How to research schools properly to present compelling reasons for admission
  • To swipe tried-and-true essay outlines, templates, and scripts—while sounding completely original
  • The major cliches and unoriginal topics to avoid at all costs
  • To understand what worked and what didn’t in actual successful and unsuccessful student essays (real ones)

How to Pick Your Perfect College Essay Topic

I’ve spent over 15 hours preparing this SPECIAL REPORT on brainstorming your perfect essay topic for you. Many students don’t have any clue what to write about, or how to turn their lives into powerful, impressive stories.

This is just a SMALL taste of what’s in store at the Summit.

"Fireside Talk" 
with UCLA's Director of Admission

Also, please join me and Q&A College Admissions at our upcoming "fireside talk" with
UCLA’s Director of Admission, Gary Clark
(formerly the senior associate admissions director at USC).

Arcadia High School, Multipurpose Room
180 Campus Drive, Arcadia, CA 91007

UPDATE: The event turnout was tremendous, with about 150 people showing up! I will be releasing summary points of Gary's talk (perhaps a video) of the event soon!

Inside the Decision Room: Case Studies

Why do some applications stand out, while others fall flat? Create a POWERFUL application by learning what works, what doesn't, and why, as I and expert college counselors take you inside the decision room. We'll dissect and analyze different student applications and give you the skinny.

RSVP required!
Please email with email subject line: RSVP

UPDATE: We had another wonderful turnout as we taught 45 eager people how to think like an admissions dean. From essay analysis to application overview to school context, we revealed it all. To get notified of events like this in the future, email

Q&A "Quick Guide" for Parents

I've partnered with the expert counselors at Q&A College Admissions, who are graciously offering their Q&A "Quick Guide for Parents"—learn how to support your child by staying informed without taking over the process!

Again, this is just a SMALL taste of what’s in store at the Summit.

Application Strategy Phase

Remember, in addition to the "Essay Development" phase, the "Application Strategy" phase is also included in the Summit at no extra cost.

Led by Q&A College Admissions, students will:

Get legitimate, actionable advice from Vince Garcia, a real former admission officer from UC Berkeley, UCLA, Pomona, Occidental, and Cal Lutheran—yes, the person with the power to accept or deny students, the ONLY kind of person who can give you the EXCLUSIVE view from the know, the actual inside of the college admissions process.

I’ve partnered with Vince Garcia and Caryl Kristensen, counselors from Q&A College Admissions, because they are simply the best—they’ve served at private high schools and as independent college counselors for over 15 years each.

You can trust they know what they’re talking about because, unlike 99% of all the counselors out there, they’ve actually been on the other side of admissions. Plus, after so long in the industry, they’ve nurtured close personal friendships with the deans of admissions at top schools like Stanford, Columbia, USC, UCLA, and countless more.

For specific details on what you’ll get in the APPLICATION STRATEGY PHASE, visit the Q&A College Admission website HERE.

Summary of What You'll Get

BOTH the “Essay Development” and “Application Strategy” phases are included!

Your child will receive 35 hours of live instruction, which includes multiple 1-on-1 breakout sessions for personalized guidance and 3 individual consultations:

Led by Q&A College Admissions (Vince Garcia & Caryl Kristensen)

    • ​a finalized (or near finalized) college list
    • an comprehensive application strategy and theme in a "College Admissions and Comparison Report"
    • case studies and analysis of real student applications (what worked & what didn't)
    • college interview strategies with live feedback and videotaped mock interviews
    • techniques to ensure glowing teacher recommendation letters
    • strategies to fill out the high school data packet and get the best counselor recs
    • an extracurriculars/achievements resume that strategically emphasizes the right strengths
    • a calendar of critical tasks and deadlines to ensure they complete the process on time
    • strategies to leverage special talents, like art, music, or leadership
    • guidance on the importance of demonstrating interest in specific colleges
    • copies of Q&A College Admissions "Quick Guides" and ongoing access to admissions newsletters, resources, and tools—including access to Q&A virtual workshops
    • one 45-min individual consultation before the Summit to start planning a personalized application strategy, and another 45-min individual consultation after the Summit to discuss "next steps" to effectively implement strategies

Led by Young Prodigy (Peter Peng)

    • a solid idea, clear outline, and well-developed draft(s) of the main Common App essay or two UC Insight essays
    • deep insight into what college essays must convey and how to do so effectively, even if you're not a strong writer
    • specific strategies to brainstorm, write, and recycle writing for 4 major typesso you can reduce the hours of writing by half
    • simple but effective exercises to come up with “deep” essay ideas on command
    • proven essay templates, scripts, and outlines (while sounding completely original)
    • the surefire test to know if your essays are good
    • essay organization & writing strategies that draw admission readers in
    • powerful words tweaks to evoke emotions and impress admission officers
    • one 90-minute consultation after the Summit to get line-by-line essay feedback via email or an in-person or Skype session to discuss further essay strategies, overcome writer's block, or fine-tune essays

We’ll cover all the strategies and pull back the curtain on every admission secret, so your child can get accepted, stat! Imagine schools fighting to admit your son or daughter.

"You and your student have put in YEARS of hard work. Don't risk losing all of that by submitting 'flat' essays. Let me help you get this crucial last step right!"

-Peter Peng (Young Prodigy)

Ethan Chen, Arcadia High School
Accepted: University of Texas at Austin (Business), New York University (NYU), Boston University (BU), and more

"My parents understood the stress of college essays and seeing as though Peter helped me raise my ACT scores very well, they welcomed Peter for another few sessions for college essays. I sought Peter’s help because I had heard from my friends that he was extremely helpful. My friends spoke the truth.

When we worked on essays, I honestly had no idea how to start out my essays. In school, we learned to write essays in the analytical formats, like evidence, analysis, thesis, etc. Peter first had me read multiple essays, allowing me to gain a different perspective on writing. The theme was to tell a story that represents your character for colleges to see. We brainstormed for many hours, and he helped me pull out specific experiences of my life to help express my emotions and character.

After brainstorming, we tackled essay after essay, as he constantly fed me advice and alternatives to phrasing each sentence. Each essay was finished feeling eloquent and neat. I’m proud of my work with Peter, as I’ve gotten accepted into schools such as the University of Texas at Austin, New York University, Occidental College, Boston University, Pepperdine University, and many others.

Now that the exams and college essays processes are over, I am moving on to the next chapter of my life: college. I feel accomplished of what I did in high school, but I couldn’t have felt this way without Peter helping me accomplish the scores I wanted, and reflecting on my experiences through my essays. The skills I’ve learned in essay writing will be carried throughout my college career."

John Desan, The Stony Brook School
Accepted: Duke, Columbia, Cornell, Rice, Vanderbilt, Washington Univ. in St. Louis, and more

"Writing essays with Peter was always a little bit magical. I remember feeling like I had nothing to say in the beginning, but Peter helped me find essays in events of my life. He was able to get on paper feelings that I was unable to explain.

My mom found several tutors for me, but the only one I clicked with was Peter. Peter was able to find my weakness and knew what exercises to do to make me better. He is no doubt knowledgeable as he was my tutor for the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, ACT, and college admission essays. I think the main reason why we got along so well is because of how friendly he is. Let’s face it, the college process is not a lot of fun. Luckily, Peter's friendliness and positivity help out.

Having the college process behind me, I am very glad that I had the help I did. Peter was an amazing tutor. While Peter is friendly, he knows what he is doing and is tough. The best student for Peter is one who is ready to work hard. I can promise you that if you do work hard, great results will come about. I would recommend Peter to anyone who needs help in the college world."

Reserve Your Spot!
Get Into Your Dream College 

BOTH the “Essay Development” and “Application Strategy” phases are included!

Spaces limited to 15 students/workshop. First come, first serve.


Secure Checkout

To avoid double charges, please sign up through ONE website only (either right here, or Q&A College Admission), not both. It's the same program, so it doesn’t matter which site you use.

Your Other Options

Now, you may be wondering, does my student really need to attend this Summit to have a fighting chance at their dream schools?

​The honest answer is, no, of course not. When I was in high school myself, I successfully navigated the whole process alone—no counselor help. I just did the best I could all my life, got some great grades/test scores, participated in some activities to make an impact, then prayed for the best when I applied. I armed myself with just a couple of cheap strategy guides from the local Barnes and Noble, and that was it.

But let’s consider your different options:​

Option #1: Your student applies alone, maybe reads some strategy books (usually outdated or not very detailed).

Will they know which strategies still work? Do you want to leave your student’s college options up to the whims of chance? You can certainly spend 100+ hours, like I did, researching all the school requirements and what each school offers, managing the deadlines, devising an overall strategy, crafting all your own essays, and learning how to get teachers to write extraordinary recs.

Or you can drastically flatten that learning curve by working with expert counselors who have successfully been through the ringer, countless times.

Option #2: Get 1-on-1 mentorship and counseling (very effective...if you work with the right people. But how will you know who’s reputable?)

For many years, I’ve almost exclusively worked 1-on-1 work with hundreds of students to achieve extraordinary results. It works, but it’s costly. Frankly, many students do not NEED such an option to be successful.

If students are willing to learn the strategies and do the work, our Summit will provide the accountability, personalized feedback, and tools.

We do provide additional 1-on-1 guidance if you prefer.

Option #3: Attend a different college "boot camp" or work with other counselors. But have they ACTUALLY been real admission officers who have seen the other side, or are they just parroting the same, cliched advice with no real insider information?

Did they actually successfully get into the Ivy League themselves?—if they can't walk the walk for themselves, then how do you expect them to help you?

Is this their full-time job and passion? Or is it a mere part-time gig because they have other aspirations, like becoming a screenwriter, music producer, or some other life dream? Most companies are run by part-time, inexperienced instructors, but not us!

With us, you get insight from a REAL admission officer, ​an ACTUAL Ivy League alum, and expert college counselors with over 40 years of combined experience. With us, you get full-time counselors who provide your child 1-on-1 attention. With us, you'll find a proven track record that's gotten our students into every elite school.

Option #4: Get a step-by-step process and individualized strategy as we guide your student through our College Application Summit.

The intimate, small-group size (only 15 students maximum, with multiple 1-on-1 breakout sessions with me and the counselors) will provide you with the best admissions strategies, essay techniques and feedback, and personalized accountability to stay on task.

Your student will be light years ahead of their peers, especially as a busy senior year rolls around.  While everyone else is stressing, you and your child can be smiling. Let us help you strategically present your child's application and essays in the best possible light.

Imagine that senior year has started. You begin what others have done over the summer: a nice vacation, a few summer classes, some research internship. But they’ve barely scratched their college apps. They’re scrambling now, stressing out about what schools to apply to, how to write their essays, and come up with an effective application strategy. The activities haven’t stopped. Sports season is winding up. The AP workload is daunting.

But your student is just relaxing. They are 100% ahead of their peers. They’ve got the entire process organized. Essays are near completion, if not already done. They’ve prepared exactly how they’re going to approach their teachers for recommendations, they’re equipped to interview with the college reps, and they know exactly how to fill out their resumes and high school data packet. Everything is clicking into place for your child—no stress. While all their friends and other parents are freaking out.

Sign up now for the College Application Summit. Spaces are at a premium (only 15 students per Summit) and disappear quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions:

Is the Summit right for me and my student?

How can I contact you?

Are there other dates and locations for the Summit?

Which site do I sign up at? Young Prodigy or Q&A?

Reserve Your Spot!
Get Into Your Dream College 

BOTH the “Essay Development” and “Application Strategy” phases are included!

Spaces limited to 15 students/workshop. First come, first serve.


Secure Checkout

To avoid double charges, please sign up through ONE website only (either right here, or Q&A College Admission), not both. It's the same program, so it doesn’t matter which site you use.

Hey! Did You Just Skip Down Here?

Good, I’ll get out of your way, but check out what my students and their families have said.

Tamao Cmiral, Campbell Hall
Accepted: Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), University of Southern California (USC), and more

"Another fantastic way Peter helped me out was the he way he worked on the essays with me. The amount of time, support, and work he put into them to help was amazing. There were several brainstorming sessions that got the best ideas out of me onto paper. My main essay topic was unusual and difficult to write about, but Peter found ways to work with them and we concluded with one of my most interesting and absorbing essays.

I went through the college audition process for piano and at one of my auditions, a professor congratulated me by telling she really enjoyed reading my essays and that she liked my style of writing. What I found to be Peter’s best approach to help with the essays was when he and I would sit together and talk everything out. Anything I mentioned or any idea in his head was immediately written down. The more we wrote down, the more we had to work with and later we could take everything by putting them together to formulate the essay we strove to write. I think the essays he helped on by pouring nothing but hard work into really pushed me forward in the application."

Joshua Nikfarjam, The Milken School
Accepted: UC Berkeley, University of Southern California (USC), University of Michigan (Ross Business), and more

"Before I met Peter...I was completely lost in the college process. I knew I had to write my Common Application essay, but I had no idea what to write. When I first met Peter, he emailed me several helpful videos and essay tips to jump start the process. After writing down my ideas, Peter helped me discern specific traits I had that would be indispensable for the admissions committee to hear. Peter allowed me to be independent and write on my own, but he would then spend a lot of time refining what I wrote. I love how Peter would be brutally honest with me about my ideas; if something shouldn't have been included in essay, he had no problem telling me.

One struggle I had that Peter helped me a lot with was “showing instead of telling.” My writing was initially very dry and boring; however, Peter helped me write with captivating imagery. In the end, I’m sure that the admissions committees were blown away by my personal statement.

Peter also did a phenomenal job helping me with my supplemental essays. He taught me how to research specific colleges and what to look for on their websites. His advice was to impress the admissions counselors by doing specific research rather than writing generic essays that can be copy and pasted for each college. He spent countless hours outside of our sessions revising my essays, and I will forever be grateful for that."

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