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Marla Kelley: Essay writing specialist

Doctoral degree in Law, Loyola Law School
Bachelor's Degree in English, University of California-Irvine

After a career as a litigation attorney and partner in a southern California law firm, when her own three children were applying to college, Marla designed a method to guide students toward writing personal statements for their college applications. Marla’s tried and true method has successfully helped students navigate their way into some of the most competitive universities in the country over the past 16 years.


Hundreds of Marla’s students have been accepted to colleges from Harvard to Stanford, the UC's, and most schools in between. Many of them credit Marla’s advice on their essays as the factor that brought them admission to their dream schools. Marla dedicated herself to this calling and presented her expert methods and strategies about the college essay writing process at dozens of meetings and seminars throughout Southern California.


  • A completed draft of their Common App personal statement

  • Outlines for all four UC PIQs

  • A completed draft of at least one PIQ 


Dates: 7/3-8/11, Tuesday & Thursday

(7/4 class will be on 7/5)

Time: 1:30-3:30 pm

Office Hour: 1.5 hours per week for 1-1 instruction (dates & time TBD)

  Students will learn  

  • Introduction to various types of applications and associated essays required by different universities, including the Common App, UC application, the Coalition Application, and universities with their own applications (e.g. MIT & Georgetown).

  • Techniques for brainstorming essay topics that highlight personal experiences, achievements, and aspirations. 

  • Analysis of successful essay samples to gain insights into effective writing strategies.

  • Insider's advice on the dos and don'ts of both generic writing and college essay writing.

  • Strategies for selecting essay prompts that align with personal strengths and experiences, and how to "recycle" essay content for multiple application requirements.

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