1. Do you help students come up with ideas for their essays?
I don’t give you ideas for your essays.
The modules in my online program provide you with valuable information about each part of the Common Application and guide you through an exciting, eye-opening process of self-reflection and exploration that helps you get clearer about yourself, your goals, and how you want to position yourself in your college application package. The activities associated with each module also get you engaged in the process of describing yourself in writing. You will probably be pleasantly surprised to discover that this work will often lead you to discover your own ideas for your essays.
Some students schedule private sessions with me to review the work they’ve done in each module. Dynamic discussions are the main focus of these one-on-one sessions. I read what you’ve written before we meet, and then, in our session, I ask you a lot of questions, and we enter into an in-depth conversation about your experiences and interests. These kinds of discussions often lead you to realize what it is you think you should write about in your essay.
2. Do you write essays for students?
3. Do you proofread essays?
I am willing to point out–but not correct–mistakes that I encounter when reviewing your material. For instance, if I notice that you have a problem with comma splices, I will call your attention to the first one and let you know that there are others. In addition, I might direct you to one of the YouTube videos I’ve created for students in my college writing courses. Here’s an example of a video: http://youtu.be/JcxlZt_UltQ. I can also teach you the best proofreading techniques. I want to help YOU improve your own writing.
4. What kind of feedback do you provide on essays?
As a college English professor, I have extensive experience helping young people take their writing to the next level. Over the years, I’ve found that the most effective way of guiding students through this process is by providing written feedback on their strengths and weaknesses and then having a discussion to share our perspectives.
Let me give you some examples.
Here’s what I might do if I notice a particular strength. Let’s say I was moved by a powerful image in the first paragraph of your essay. I would explain to you what made this image so effective in relation to the focus of your essay and why it can be useful to employ the right degree of imagery in your writing in general. I might also encourage you to explore the possibility of referring back to this image in other parts of your essay.
Here’s an example of what I might do if I notice a particular problem. Let’s say you don’t share any anecdotes to illuminate and support what you’re saying in your essay. I’d start off by pointing out this fact, and then I’d ask you some questions that would assist you in coming up with these examples. I’d also talk with you about why evidence (whether it’s in the form of personal examples or direct quotes from sources) is crucial to writing a compelling college-level essay.
I provide other forms of support as well.
Last year, one of the students in my program wrote an extraordinarily beautiful and provocative essay, but when she was not accepted for early decision, she got nervous and started to think she should come up with some more conventional structure for her essay. We had many long conversations, and the most valuable advice I gave her was to trust herself and keep that essay, which she wrote on her own.
P.S. She’s now attending another great Ivy League institution (which is probably a better fit for her than the other school that rejected her) and received letters from admissions officers telling her how impressed they were with her essay.
In other words, I’m also your mentor. I’m there for you. I help you negotiate the anxieties and fears that come up when you start putting yourself out there in the world. I challenge you to push yourself and take the risks necessary for truly growing.
My main goals with this part of the application are to help you see what you’re doing right and wrong while also providing you with a strong understanding of the key elements of excellent writing. You might be coming to me with the short-term goal of learning how to complete your college application package, but my long-term objective is to help you grow as a writer in a completely ethical way.
5. I noticed that some of the students featured on your Success Stories page talk about how you’ve helped them with their résumés. Can you tell me what you do?
Once again, I need to emphasize that what I do is guide students through the process of learning how to understand, value, and describe their experiences, accomplishments, and goals.
If you look closely at what these amazing students have to say about their experience working with me, you’ll notice that I assisted them in discovering their own answers and their own means of presenting their achievements. I don’t write anything for my clients.
My online module on this part of the Common Application is called “Your Curriculum Vitae: What It Is, Why You Need One, and How to Create It.” In this part of my program, I help you understand the role that this part of the application plays in helping you create a vivid, exciting image of yourself and introduce you to effective techniques for filling out the form and structuring your CV, which is what I argue you should include (rather than a résumé).
If you schedule a private session with me to discuss your CV, I will read through your material, ask you a series of questions that will assist you in figuring out the best way to showcase your experience, and give you feedback on the impression you did (or did not) generate.