So this is the problem in trying to find free resources and review them. Of course you expect some to be less than useful and you can justify including them under resources you should know about if only so that other people don’t waste their time on them. But you also run into resources that aren’t really free and ruin your theme for the headline and picture. The College Essay Organizer is one such resource.
When I first came across the College Essay Organizer and saw the highlighted features, I thought this could be a pretty useful resource especially since it’s listed as being free for students. After all, who wouldn’t want to know all your essay questions and see how they overlap so that you write fewer essays as advertised on the front page?
Except that’s not available at the free level.
What you get at the free level is a list of all the application essays for the colleges you’re applying to. It’s not just a replacement for the Common Application since it includes information on schools that don’t participate in the Common Application. Any of the other enticing features require the upgrade and they do a strong sell for the upgrade.
Here’s what you need to understand about the site. The free part is called the Essay QuickFinder under “Our Services.” This will get you the general essay questions for 25 colleges and that’s pretty much it.
Be careful when you first start using the site. There’s this great list of colleges. You just check the ones you want, click on “Get Your Essay Questions” and then you’ll be required to create an account to get the information. After you create the account, you’ll get the information along with a message that you can only get 25 colleges under the free version and you have already used X with the choices you just made. Not cool when you are just randomly checking schools to see how it works.
All the wonderful features and advantages discussed in the FAQ tab applies to the upgrade, called the Essay RoadMap, which will cost you $24.00. Actually, you get this upgrade box telling you that you only have 24 hours to upgrade at the current price. One of the screens I think said that the special code is for half off so you’ll be paying $48.00 if you wait more than a day. I don’t know if that’s true since I didn’t check back after a day.
It’s not that I mind College Essay Organizer is charging for its services, I could see it being worth the money for the right person. What bothers me is that virtually all the time-saving features are only available on the upgrade but that’s not really clear before you sign up. All of the claims just refer to the generic “College Essay Organizer” rather than the specific product QuickFinder or RoadMap. And the hitting you with the 25 college limit after you have already made your initial choices is just borderline scummy.
Sorry, I didn’t spring the $24 to test out the upgrade. And they don’t show any screen shots or demonstrations of the RoadMap. Ultimately, given the limitations of the free version, you really don’t have any idea how the upgrade would work. But for $24 it may be worth it for the student who is facing supplemental questions for each college along with scholarship essays.