Currently enrolled in the Independent Educational Consulting program at University of California, Irvine, Karen Hott has completed coursework on principles of advising and navigating the financial aid network; she will have earned the UCI certificate before the fall of 2019.

An IEC is a private college counselor who has the time to get to know her students and to help each devise a list of colleges that have the right fit. An IEC is a student of colleges, and as such, Karen has been visiting colleges, talking to admissions representatives, and seeing first-hand what colleges are like.

Karen is recognized as an independent educational consultant (IEC) by the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling (PCACAC). As an IEC, she has coached students (ethically–see below) both in person and virtually to craft essays that gave them the edge needed in a very competitive admissions climate. 

The parent of a daughter in law school, Karen has had personal experience with the angst-provoking process of applying to college and graduate school.

She has a master’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College in Annapolis, National Board for Professional Teaching Certification, and a CJE (Certified Journalism Educator) designation from the Journalism Education Association. In addition, she is a member of the Modern Language Association (MLA).

Since retiring from the public school system in 2016, she has worked part-time as a writing instructor at the Anne Arundel Community College Writing Center on campus and online. Before retiring with 35 years of teaching experience, Ms. Hott taught Advanced Placement English Language and Composition, journalism, and newspaper production.

While working with students on their application essays, Karen realized that most students had a limited understanding of the many possibilities they had. So many students based their college list on what they already knew, not bothering to research their options. This led Karen to widen the scope of her practice from essay coaching to full-scale college admissions consulting.

To the Student: Your Application Essays

The application essay can move your application from the “maybe” pile to the “yes” pile, so it’s an important piece of the application process. Ms. Hott has worked with student writing–in a completely ethical, hands-off manner. She calls her 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, and coach you, usually at a public place with wi-fi. I also have an office on Kent Island. We will look at your essays in hard-copy format and on the computer. If you are unable to meet face-to-face, we can use video conferencing.

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 do have a unique voice. But sometimes voices get muffled, drowned in excess wordiness and stiff formulas. 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 will be flawless, but only because you will make it that way.

Colleges want to hear your authentic voice, not mine, so we’ll be sure to keep the essay all yours, from start to finish.