PARENTS" FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I arrange for my initial free 15-minute phone consultation?
You can reach me by sending me an email message. My contact information is on the Home Page. Please be sure to leave your phone number and/or the email address you wish me to reply to. I will contact you within 24 hours.
What will you cover during my initial free 15-minute phone consultation?
During your initial free 15-minute phone consultation I will determine editing and coaching needs, get to know a little about the student and answer any questions about the process, my services including my fee, how I bill for my time, and payment arrangements to fit your needs.
Are you expensive? What do you charge for your services?
It depends on what you mean by “expensive” and how you view the advantages I provide as a college application essay specialist. For my services, you pay by the hour and only for what is needed. A "priceless" advantage in using my services is that I can help relieve the stress that students and parents often feel during this period, not only because I am an experienced resource, but also because I am a sounding board, an advocate and a facilitator.
If the college education you want is worth the tuition you will have to pay, then it is certainly worth my fee which is negligible when considering the total cost of any degree program. There is the old saying that “you get what you pay for.” You will soon see why I have a very high success rate at helping clients get into their top choice schools, many in the Ivy and sub Ivy colleges.
How does your editing process work?
The editing and feedback process takes place through a back and forth email exchange of essay drafts as Word document attachments. Within 24 hours of my receiving a draft I will respond by email with suggested edits and comments. We will continue this process for as long as it takes until parents and student are satisfied that the essay is in final form. I am also available to talk by phone as needed should any questions come up.
What services do your clients usually request?
Most of my clients take advantage of my editing and coaching services for all colleges they apply to. The number of colleges that students are applying to has been on the rise due to the heightened competition, and the average number of applications is 8-10. For rising seniors, the most intense part of the essay work usually begins in the summer and spans a 5 month period of time which varies according to need and application due dates. In addition to the common application essay, I can provide help with an activities resume, short answers and supplementary essays. However, if all you need is an expert critique of a particular essay draft, I can provide suggestions for improvement. My time spent for that basic feedback service will be subject to my hourly fee.
Why do your editing and coaching services give students an advantage when applying to colleges?
I bring a level of expertise in college application essay showcasing and editing which students and parents most likely don’t have. I am fully familiar with what admissions committees are looking for and how students should “sell” themselves. As an editing specialist I also know how to guide students in writing the best essay they can. Since I take the time to get to know my clients, I ensure that their own personality and voice will be totally present in every one of their essays. My role is to help students turn a bland or generic essay into one that is compelling, individual, authentic and distinctive.
Why is the college admissions essay so important?
After decades of being in the shadow of the SAT the college essay has emerged as a critical part of the college application package. There are so many students who have similar outstanding achievements, academic records and test scores (SAT and/or ACT) that college admissions committees need to have a way to differentiate one student from another. The essay is a student's chance to stand out above his or her competition.
The other parts of the college application contain information about students that has occurred in the past. What’s done is done. So the essay is the only part of the application packet for which students have full control to add something remarkable about themselves. Through the essay, students have a chance to “talk” directly with the admissions committee and show them something personally meaningful. A stellar essay will definitely improve their chances of getting admitted to their colleges of choice. It could also compensate for weaker parts of the application and can even be a decisive factor in keeping an application out of the rejection pile. On the other hand, a poorly written essay can drag down an otherwise outstanding application.
How will you help with essays?
I will critique all elements of an essay and provide specific editing recommendations for improvement. This includes but is not limited to grammar, spelling, punctuation, structure, content, relevance to the question, clarity, flow, tone, conciseness, interest, word usage, and adherence to the word/character limit.
How many drafts does it take for an essay to get to its final version?
The time spent on editing an essay is as long as it takes until parents and student are satisfied with it. It is an iterative process which usually involves many rounds of editing and/or redrafting. Much depends on the conceptualization and writing ability of the student but on average, a 500 word essay takes around 3 hours of brainstorming, review and editing work on my part to completion. I will apply a series of editing passes, each time concentrating on very specific elements of the essay. Then I will make content suggestions to significantly improve the essay so that it is technically perfect, memorable and stands out as speaking uniquely about the student. My final pass will be a fine edit with any finishing touches.
What if a student doesn't know what to write about?
I can help students brainstorm topics and/or themes. Through our communications, I will first get to know what a student is about as a person—major accomplishments, special experiences, future aspirations, etc. Remember that writing is a process, and it takes some time for structure and wording to evolve. Rest periods of at least a day between essay drafts are highly recommended. Then the student can return to the essay and assess it with a fresh perspective or as I say, fresh eyes.
What are the most common mistakes a student should avoid when writing an essay?
There are several common mistakes such as not answering the question, picking an inappropriate topic, writing too much, using poor grammar and /or spelling, and repeating information that is evident elsewhere in the college application. But a very common and unfortunate mistake is that many applicants write what they think admissions committees want to hear instead of writing what they want admissions committees to know about them. An applicant does not need exotic or exceptional experiences in order to stand out. Actually, it is not what students “tell” that matters, but that they “show” who they distinctively are as individuals. Admissions committees want to know that a student being considered will be a valuable contributor to the college community and to the classroom experience of other students.
Will you be willing to write a student's essay?
Purely as a matter of ethics, I will not write essays for my clients.
Apart from ethics, it is a fatal mistake to pay someone to write an essay for a student or to use a “canned” essay obtained from the Internet or a book. Since the SAT essay is available on line for admissions committees to examine, any sense that a student is not the author of the submitted essay will kill the chances of admission. Also, admissions committees can easily tell when an essay is written in such a way that it does not correlate with the rest of the application, namely, academic records, test scores and English grades. It is not unnusual in borderline cases for admissions committees to request writing samples of classwork.
Lastly the essay has to reveal the student's personality and own voice. If it sounds like it wasn't written by the student I can confidently say that it will negatively impact on the chances for admission.
When should a student begin to work with you on the college essay?
Writing a college essay requires thought, care and patience. The best time to formulate ideas for an essay is in junior year or especially in the summer before senior year begins. Students can call me at that time, and I can help brainstorm topics. It's best if students jot down ideas when they come to mind and begin to write a first draft when they are less stressed, such as a few weeks after their final exams. When crunch time comes, if they plan appropriately and allow for several breaks between revisions, they will have a better chance of crafting a thoughtful and focused essay. Students should have their revised and refined essay completed and ready to go at least 1- 2 weeks before a college application is due.
When are college applications due?
Due dates for applications depend on the colleges selected and whether a student is applying early decision, early action or regular decision. It is very important to stay organized and keep a careful chart of application due dates and all requirements. Usually early decision/early action applications are due in November, and most other applications are due in December or January.
Do you have any guarantees?
I guarantee that you will be 100% satisfied with my services, responsiveness and turn around time. Students are generally very comfortable working with me as a coach and being open to constructive criticism and suggestions. I always have their best interests at heart and give advice that I would follow if I were applying to the selected colleges myself. However, I cannot make any guarantees as to what selected colleges students will get into, although I can give my opinion as to where I think a student has a competitive chance of being admitted. Considering the staggering numbers of national and international top students for limited seats, nothing should be taken for granted as being a shoe-in for admission.
Will you help students select their colleges?
I do not provide counseling regarding choice of colleges as that is not my expertise. I specialize in coaching and editing for college essays and activities resumes. This means that when students begin to work with me they should have an idea as to what colleges they might be applying to, although this is not necessary for crafting the common essay. I can help narrow down school choices once I know the student's test scores, academic and extracurricular accomplishments, and any other pertinent information.