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Quick Q&A with Coach Stef!

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

Hello, and thank you for being here! I’m Stef Tschida, the coach behind “MN College Essay Coach.” Today, I’m sharing a bit about who I am, my passion for helping students, and how I can help with your college application essays. The application process is winding down, with most application deadlines on January 1, so if you’re feeling the pressure or want some extra support, schedule a free consultation today!


1. You’re passionate about helping students through the college essay writing process. Can you tell us a bit about your college application experience? I’ve helped dozens of students with the college essays, using some fundamental ideas from my corporate communications career to help students get clear on what makes them unique and clearly communicate it – just like any celebrity, politician or corporate executive would when they’re launching a movie or product.


2. Where did you attend college? What was your favorite part about the college experience?

I went to Iowa State for undergrad and the University of Minnesota for graduate school. My favorite part about college was meeting the people who are my chosen family and best friends today.


3. How did you choose your career path?

I always loved reading and writing as a kid and knew I wanted to do something with words. I tried out newspaper reporting and realized it wasn’t for me when my turn came to call the family of an Iowa State student who had died unexpectedly. I recognized the value of writing a story about their life, but did NOT want to be the one to ask those tough questions. Somehow, I realized that a career in corporate communications would enable me to be on the other side of things – enabling executives to answer the tough questions, but not having to ask them myself. I kind of stumbled into it but have loved every minute.


4. What did your life look like after graduation?

I graduated on a Friday and started at Carlson Companies on a Monday, as an intern. I wasn’t thrilled about having to do a third internship, especially after I’d already graduated, but I held out the hope that it would turn into a job. After nine months, it did, and I stayed there 11 years and learned a ton!


5. What led you to launch MN College Essay Coach?

Like all great things in my career, I feel like I kind of stumbled into it! I was thinking one day about other groups of people who needed communications support, who I could serve with the core skills I’d be using in corporate America for 15 years. I wrote down a ton of different groups, but for some reason, “high school students applying to college” jumped off the page. I asked some friends if they’d let me coach their students for free to test out my ideas, and the rest is history!


6. What does it mean to be an essay coach?

It means I help students understand what makes them unique and special, and communicate that to potential colleges. It means I help them convey what the things they’ve done in the past say about how they’ll show up on campus in the future. In the end, I help students share why their desired colleges simply must have them attend there!


7. What kinds of students should consider hiring an essay coach?

Anyone! I work with students who have done a million extracurriculars and have perfect grades, who want to be sure they convey all of it in the best possible way. I also work with students who have a more “typical” profile and know they need some extra polish and positioning to stand out in a really competitive situation. Some are better writers than others, but everyone can use a good editor, and everyone needs outside help to see things about them that they may not be able to see for themselves.


8. What has been most meaningful to you, as you’ve coached high school students?

Just seeing how fantastic they all are! Sometimes I think this generation gets a bad wrap for always being on their phones texting – or whatever! – but that’s not what I see. I see impressive, engaged future citizens who are going to do awesome things to change the world. They’re thinking critically about the way things have always been and demanding it look differently going forward. I can’t wait to watch what they’ll do!


9. Can you share some words of wisdom for high school student anticipating their next chapter?

Many of my students have learned this one the hard way: they didn’t perform well academically during their freshman and even sophomore years, then realize they need a strong GPA to get into college and spend the rest of their high school career trying to get perfect grades to offset their bad start. Many do, in fact, achieve 4.0s, but can’t fully undo their previous mistakes. That’s the #1 lesson many of my students have learned the hard way. So, my advice is to do your best right from the start of high school. Your grades don’t have to be perfect, but they should reflect your best ability at all times.



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