Karen Hott sits beside the Mr. Rogers statue at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Fred Rogers graduated from Rollins.

Karen A. Hott is an educator with 40 years of experience working with teens and young adults. She is committed to helping students make informed choices about colleges, in the process educating parents as well. In her words:

Realizing that many students overly rely upon what they’ve heard from others and seeing the outsized influence of U.S. News & World Report rankings, I began studying the college-selection process, leading me to the University of California, Irvine, program in Independent Educational Consulting, which I completed with a 4.0. The coursework covers ethics, online and print resources, personality testing, learning styles and college teaching styles, concepts of “match” and “fit,” developing balanced college lists, learning disabilities, graduate school admissions, and navigating the financial aid network.

With the IEC certificate from UCI, I joined the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) as an associate member. In 2022, I was accepted as a professional member of HECA, the Higher Education Consultants Association, and in 2023, I moved up the professional membership with IECA. These associations are networks of professionals in college admissions, financial aid, learning differences, and more.

I helped students craft their college application essays for many years, always careful to keep a hands-off approach and to allow the student’s own voice to shine. (See “Karen Hott on Essays” below.)

I have a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis, as well as the Independent Educational Consultant certificate from UC Irvine. Along with IECA and HECA, I’m a member of two local affiliates of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling (PCACAC), and the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling (SACAC).

Before retiring from the Anne Arundel County (Maryland) public school system, I taught Advanced Placement English Language and Composition, journalism, and newspaper production. In that position, I not only helped students with their own writing, I wrote many, many recommendation letters.

Teens and writing have been part of my entire adult life. A lover of learning and words, I am passionate about students, writing, and higher education.

Why “Two Bridges” College Consulting?

Truth be told, if I were to start this consulting business today, I’d use my name: Hott College Consulting, or K. Hott College Consulting, or Hott College Advising. I love my name; however, it does tend to generate a lot of unpleasant spam.

I chose the name “Two Bridges” because it works on two (there’s that number again!) levels. Figuratively, it reflects my belief that every student has more than one pathway to a successful future. On a literal level, I have two homes, one near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland and one near Tampa Bay’s Sunshine Skywy in Florida. In my practice, I help students build bridges to successful futures.

Karen Hott on Essay Coaching

It can’t make or break your chance at admission, but the essay may move your application from the “maybe” pile to the “yes” pile, so it’s an important piece of the application process.

I’ve spent a lifetime working with student writing–in a completely ethical, hands-off manner. I call my approach “coaching.” Coaching is different from editing. The coaching philosophy begins with the premise that your essay belongs entirely to you. You will not email me your essays for me to revise. I will sit down with you, in person at my Kent Island office, at an Annapolis-area Starbucks, or through Zoom, and coach you. We will look at your essays together. I will start wherever you are. If you don’t have the prompts, we’ll find them. If you don’t know what to say, we’ll talk. If you have something already written, I will ask you to read aloud to me what you’ve written. We will talk about what’s strong and what’s not so strong, what should lead and what should finish it off. I will listen to you and question you so that you say what you mean to say and your voice comes alive.

You have a unique voice. But sometimes voices get muffled, drowned in excess wordiness and stiff formulas, or in someone else’s idea of what sounds “smart.” Sometimes the voices are strong, but they meander without direction. As your coach, I will not be correcting your writing; rather, I will coach you to find out what you mean to say.  I will not go through your essay with a red pen and hand it back to you for corrections, though I will point out the function of your syntax and punctuation. Your essay may not be perfect, but it will be a perfect representation of you. Colleges want to hear your authentic voice, not mine or your mom’s, so we’ll be sure to keep the essay all yours, from start to finish.