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The Right Tech for Your College Application Essays

Using the right technology for your essays can be the difference between a stress-free and a stressful application experience. In this guest post, admissions expert Alex Thaler compares the four most common methods for preparing essays.

It’s the zombie apocalypse and the leader of your roving band of survivors has given you a job: dig a ditch around your camp. You look around and find a spoon, a garden spade, and shovel. Which one do you use?

When it comes to writing essays, there are different technologies available for you to use. Some are spoons, others are shovels. In this article, I examine the pros and cons of the four most common methods for preparing application essays. Let’s get to it.


Students still use paper? Yep. It’s easy and cheap. But it’s also inefficient, perishable, and hard to share. Don’t use paper.

Email/Word Processor

Many students and counselors use a combination of word processors and email to write and share essays. The success of this method depends in large part on the organizational abilities of each student. Students must create a system of files and folders, as well as some sort of naming methodology that helps them identify what each file is. It’s difficult to sync files across different devices, and there is always the risk that a crash will erase the drafts on a user’s hard drive. If you are working on several essays at the same time, tracking different versions over email can be tricky. Not the best tool for the job.

Google Docs

Now we’re talking. Google Docs is a cloud-based word processor with real-time editing capabilities. All files are automatically synced online for all users, a clear step up from email. It’s very easy to share drafts in Google Docs, and the user has options for controlling sharing settings. There is still the files/folders problem, but many students can manage that without too much difficulty.


To address the files/folders issue we recently launched Zoomita, a free cloud-based essay management system that also tracks all of the essay requirements for over a thousand colleges. There are no files or folders in Zoomita; every draft for each essay is automatically organized in a feed-style format. Editing is not quite as robust as in Google Docs (notably there is no real-time editing), but the formatting features are more than enough for most users. There is literally no room for human error on Zoomita, because document management is completely automated. Welcome to the future!

So there you have it. Of course, picking the technology is easy; writing the essay…not so much. For tips on writing, check out some of the other excellent articles on the Magoosh SAT Blog.

Best of luck on your college applications!

Author Bio: Alex Thaler is the Founder and CEO of Edswell. He has over 11 years of experience in test prep/admissions consulting and is the author of “The Art of the Personal Statement.” Alex received his B.A. from UC Berkeley and JD from University of Pennsylvania.


About Guest Author

This post was written by a friend of Magoosh.

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