At McNeil Admissions, we help you craft essays and applications that stand out and get results.
We helped 96% of our clients get into top-35 universities and 26% into an Ivy. How? Our full-service consulting focused on crafting breakout college essays. Spots are limited.
John is heading off to Dartmouth! I think it came down to the essay. It was phenomenal… We hung it on the fridge at the end of the cycle. If Alex and team are available, stop looking.
Jeanette S., McNeil Admissions Client (21-22')
A full-service college consulting firm—with a flair for essays, an exceptional record, and a reputation for care.
Meet your new admissions team.
Our partners are experts —former admissions officers and superb writers from schools like Vanderbilt, Stanford, and Harvard. Combined, we've worked in elite admissions for more than 30 years.
Everyone on our team has a stake in every application. And we share a common view that our best interests lie in being obsessed with client outcomes.
Alex McNeil, MA
Founder, McNeil Admissions
Alex is an experienced writing coach and admissions thought leader who has helped 500+ students get into the best schools in the country. He writes regularly about admissions and moderates Reddit' s r/ApplyingToCollege community, the largest admissions community in the world. Alex holds a graduate degree in political science and studied at the University of Puget Sound, SF State & UC Berkeley.
Ben Bousquet, M.Ed
Former Assistant Admissions Director, Vanderbilt University
Ben is the former Assistant Director of Admissions at Vanderbilt University and was a Resident Director of the 2018 Harvard Pre-College Program. Ben has reviewed 20,000+ applications, presented files to the admissions committee, and selected students for top merit scholarships. At Harvard, he facilitated admissions workshops for 500+ high-achieving high school students.
Irena Smith, PhD
Former Admissions Officer, Stanford University
Irena is a former admission officer at Stanford University and has led her own admissions practice for 15+ years. She works in consultation with McNeil Admissions, providing application strategy feedback to team members. Irena's writing on college admissions has been featured in The Atlantic, San Francisco Chronicle, and NPR.
Kylie Kistner, MA
Former Admissions Counselor, Willamette University
Kylie is a former admissions counselor at Willamette University. She has been a writing coach at three institutions, worked with thousands of students on writing, and has supported neurodiverse students through writing, planning, and project management. Kylie co-created a university-wide writing handbook used across 200+ undergraduate writing courses and to teach writing in several countries.
While college admissions rates plunge, our students’ acceptance rates to their top schools keep going up. 98% of our students with GPAs over 3.6 have gained admission to one of the top 35 schools in the country. 26% of our students with GPAs above 3.8 received admissions to an Ivy League school (if they applied to one!).
STEM (CS, Engineering, Biology)
Humanities (English, Classics, Arts)
Social Sciences (Political Science, Anthropology, Sociology)
"No stone unturned."
My wife and I's efforts to help our daughter kept ending in meltdown fights. Alex and his team took over and it was smooth sailing. Essays were great, applications left no stone unturned. Thanks!
Jesse T., McNeil Admissions Client ('20-'21)
"Wouldn't have gotten in otherwise."
I got in touch when I applied for a second BS degree at NYU. Alex helped me start my essays over from scratch and they turned out amazing. There is no way I would have gotten in otherwise :)
Emily S., McNeil Admissions Client (21-'22)
"Our hero throughout everything."
My daughter (first child) took care of the process on her own. My son, on the other hand, had ADHD and needed some serious help navigating the process. Alex was our hero through everything. He helped Luke write essays that we had no idea he had in him. Highly recommend Alex and his team.
Joy N., McNeil Admissions Client (19-20')
"My results were amazing."
I was anxious going into things because I had a pretty generic resume and was applying to very competitive schools. Alex was so good at helping me frame my application in a way that made up for the holes in my resume. My results were amazing also. Studying CS at Berkeley next year!
Ellie H., McNeil Admissions Client (21-22')
Want to know the secret to elite college admissions? Here's the deal:
Pretend you're an admissions officer... It's Thursday, 4pm. The 28th application of the day slides across the desk. You start reading, trying to stop your gaze from wandering up to the clock every few moments. Ugh, Another essay about machine learning?
Academic rigor, grades, and extracurriculars matter. But those factors only get you to the starting line. Then, the real test begins.
Ben, team member and former Admissions Officer at Vanderbilt University, tells us what makes an application great:
Your application must knit your transcripts, extracurriculars, scores into a coherent story that a reader connects with. If your story doesn't connect with your reader, your app is often DOA. That connection usually happens in the essays.
Ben Bousquet, Director of Applicant Strategy @ McNeil Admissions (Former Vanderbilt Admissions)
We work with you at every phase of the college application process to build an application that hits a reader like a bolt of lightning.
In turn, you get peace of mind knowing you've created the best application possible.
"Couldn't be happier."
We’ve worked with Alex for four years and have had nothing but an amazing experience throughout. Our son did his applications with Alex and got into Brown, so we asked him to work with our daughter. In junior/senior year he helped my daughter build a school list and coached her through writing essays that were as amazing and personal as our son’s. She's now at Bowdoin. Couldn't be happier.
Jian B., McNeil Admissions Client (21-22')
"Truly gifted writing coaches."
We hired McNeil Admissions to help my son research what he wanted to study in school. Alex helped him land an amazing research position and brought my husband and me up to speed on the admissions process. Alex has become a mentor to Ken. They know the college process in and out and are truly gifted writing coaches. We recommend McNeil Admissions to everyone.
Kerry H., McNeil Admissions Client (20-21')
Balanced applications, lightning-strike essays. Don't leave anything up to chance.
1. Basic Support Package (6-School)
(Aug - Apr, Senior Year)
Application and essay support for up to 6 schools. Best narrative strategy consultations, school list creation, and common application extracurriculars and additional informations sections.
2. Enhanced Support Package (12 Schools + UCs)
(Aug - Apr, Senior Year)
Inquire for price
Application and essay support for up to 12 schools (plus UC essays OR 4 additional supplementals). Access to Essay Academy™ masterclass (16+ hours of premium video instruction and 60+ example essays), application management and tracking.
3. Premier Application Support (Unlimited Schools)
(Aug - Apr, Senior Year)
Inquire for price
Unlimited application and essay support. Up to two hours of weekly in-person meeting time. Simulated admissions office evaluation and report from former T10 admissions officers.
1. Junior Prep Introductory Package
(Sept - Mar, Junior Year)
A package comprising an initial strategy evaluation and three additional sessions covering topics including: extracurricular/resume development, cultivating intellectual vitality, early college research, major identification, and orientation to the college application process.
2. Ongoing Consulting
Following the initial strategy package, book ongoing (monthly or bi-monthly) appointments to transition forward to senior-year application support.
Our sophomore needed help thinking about career & major. Set up meetings twice a month and were ready to go by senior year. Brown BS/MD great result!
Hanish L., McNeil Admissions Client (21-22')
"Helped me brainstorm an essay I loved."
I like writing but the college essays are so weird. I had never really written a personal essay but Alex broke it down and helped me brainstorm an essay I loved.
Lily S., Georgetown University '26
Private Consulting FAQs
What kind of students do you primarily work with?
How many students do you take on every year?
Will we be meeting in-person? How many hours of in-person time will we have?
What is your essay development process like? How does that work?
Are parents included in the application process?
What is your admissions experience?
Do you only focus on essays, or do you help with other parts of the process as well?
Book an intro
Ready to have a conversation? My team and I would love to hear where you are in the college application journey. This call is a good time for you to ask further questions about how we work with students and get more information about our service packages.
Before our call, please take a look at our services. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email us beforehand.
We invite both parents and students to attend the meeting, but prefer at least one parent to be present.
Looking forward to meeting you!👋