There is one counselor for every 500 students in U.S. public schools.

Being the first in his family to graduate from high school, Paris Wallace said he sympathizes with teenagers who find themselves alone in the circuitous college application process, and he hopes a new online service called the Essay Exchange can help those students get an acceptance letter this spring.

The Essay Exchange, launched last August, has a repository of about 700 essays written by current students and college graduates who shared their successful written works for $2 apiece.

For between $2 and $5, a prospective student can scroll through the essays and get a feel for the structure and subject matter that helped get another student into a college or university.

The Essay Exchange, Wallace said, isn’t for students whose parents can afford pricey SAT preparation courses or counselors who tell students which classes to take throughout high school. The site was created to help students “compete on a level playing field” with their more affluent counterparts.

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