Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” By this he meant preparation is key.
Many people believe they need help with their writing, but actually 80% of a strong essay is in the preparation before the first word is ever written. It’s about brainstorming a unique angle, framework, and message and presenting them authentically and emotionally.
Most students struggle with coming up with a topic they would be excited to write about, so I ask insightful questions that dive deep into their lives. I help analyze their experiences to uncover reflections about themselves. For many, this is the first time they’ve truly thought about the meaning of their lives.
In helping hundreds of students and reading thousands of essays, I guide students to position their story memorably and poignantly. I’ve also worked closely with college counselors and admission officers/directors, so I know how to help students tell their stories in the precise way that impresses the schools.
Beyond formulating outlines and essay structures with students, I also lead them in selecting the most impactful details to include. Furthermore, I help match the right topics to the right prompts, which will save you from dozens of hours of needlessly writing more essays than necessary. There’s a way to recycle essays creatively, even if they don’t initially seem to fit a particular essay question. Choosing how to split up ideas amongst the various prompts is crucial to avoid repetitiveness and to present the full picture of the student.
This is the nitty gritty. I help students go from conception to creation. We work closely to put pencil to paper, structuring the essay, phrasing ideas, and transitioning. I’ll advise students on areas that need to be expounded upon, condensed, or even eliminated.
The personal statement is not just a story from your life, but an exploration of the significance of these events in shaping your identity. I help students strike the right balance between beautiful writing and meaningful reflection.
In this stage, I help add that extra flair. I improve the overall sophistication and eloquence of the story by suggesting smoother transitions, phrasing, and other stylistic fixes. While I do check over grammar and spelling, the polishing phase is much more about refining the message, increasing clarity, and striking the right emotional tone.
Many students write well over the explicit word limit too, so I suggest ways to cut down the length without sacrificing readability or emotion.
I generally either meet people in-person or edit essays via email (line-by-line edits, plus several paragraphs of commentary at the end). I can also help over the phone or Skype.
Generally, students meet with me once a week for 90-minute sessions (minimum). Occasionally, people request that we go longer or that meet more or less frequently.
There are 3 essay phases, and most students write about 10-15 essays in total.
Phase 1: Common App Main Essay/UC Essays— this is the most important one. Much of the brainstorming done here will allow us to move rapidly through the additional essays, but the first essay generally takes the longest to perfect, especially as students are getting accustomed to the proper writing style.
Phase 2: Supplementary Essays— many schools require multiple extra essays that ask why do you want to attend their school, what will you contribute, what class would you create if you could, and other more creative prompts. I guide students on the proper approach for each specific question type. Some questions involve researching individual schools, which I help students do as well.
Phase 3: Special Interest/Departmental Essays— specific majors/programs may request additional essays such as artist statements, engineering essays, business ideas, etc.)
Sometimes, there’s Phase 4: Special Circumstances— essays to explain poor grades or other unique situations.
The entire process typically takes 20-30 hours, but this can vary depending on how many essays/schools there are, how quickly the student can implement suggestions, how much writing and work he does on his own, and the initial quality of his drafts. If you only have University of California essays (4 essays), then typically takes around 10-15 hours, sometimes more or less.
Think of me as your writing coach. I shape ideas into values, mold experiences into meaning, and turn words into better words.
Raised in Silicon Valley, the mecca of technology, I took the “road less traveled by” (in Robert Frost’s famous words). Whereas friends and classmates pursued science or engineering, I was obsessive about writing to the point that I seriously considered dropping out of high school to publish my novel. I ended up publishing a short story in a Stanford anthology during those early years, but I also went on to graduate at the top of my class. Before heading to Brown University, where I pursued creative writing, I was voted “Most Likely to Become the Next New York Times Bestseller” by my class.
Since 2008, I’ve worked with hundreds of students and edited thousands of college essays. Today, I exclusively specialize in only three areas: college essays, SAT, and ACT. That means you get unparalleled expertise when you work with me. This is my full-time job, so you’ll also have my undivided commitment. I’ve helped countless students earn spots at their dream colleges, including every Ivy League school, Stanford, MIT, all the UC schools, Duke, Vanderbilt, Rice, University of Washington in St. Louis, USC, NYU, Georgetown, and much more.
A large part of that success is in being able to bring out deep self-reflection in my students. With me, you will hone an unforgettable message that is positioned to sell your best self. Everyone has an authentic, moving story. Let me help you find power in your voice.
Unfortunately, due to increased demand year after year, I cannot fit everyone into my schedule. Therefore, I only select students whom I feel can benefit the greatest from my mentorship. I provide exceptional results and am fully committed to the families I work with. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sessions are 90 minutes each (minimum), but the rates are hourly at $185/hour.
If budget is a concern, I recommend perfecting all your essays to the best of your ability before working with me. This will ensure I can provide more meaningful and actionable feedback, so you can limit the hours you’ll need to work with me.