CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — It’s the time of year when high school students start to think about college and the college application essay.

It’s a rite of passage for high school students – sweating over the application essay that will get them into the college of their choice.

The common application essay asks prospective students to tell a story about how overcoming a challenge led to personal growth.

Essay coach Brenda Bernstein said an essay does not require a situation worth of an academy award.

“Everyone has a story, one of the first essays I worked on with a student was how he taught his little sister how to ride a bike,” Bernstein said.

A small event that, she said, had a big impact.

“That’s not an extraordinary kind of thing, that’s an every day thing, but it was so meaningful to him,” she said.

Her two suggestions are to be sure to answer the question and to keep it within 650 words. Human beings are reading application essays and, she said, they are counting.

“If you don’t answer the question and you’re not within the word limit, you’re really starting with a leg down,” Bernstein said.