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I help students craft standout college essays

What a writing coach brings

Storytelling. The most important thing a writing coach does is take your student seriously --their stories, their goals, their concerns, their voice.  Every student I work with has a deep, uniquely authentic take to share, and every single one needs a little help owning it! I listen, ask for details and clarification and expansion, and gather the threads until a) a really memorable story comes together, and b) the student's voice shines through, strong and compelling.

Craft. These are not your standard English-class essays -- especially the UC PIQ's!  They are multi-layered word-puzzles, and it's your student's job to fit all (and only) the relevant, value-adding pieces in. Students frequently get "stuck" when faced with the complexity of putting it all together. Co-writing on Zoom using a shared screen is a tool I use to help us turn all the puzzle pieces right side up and create a seamless whole, saving your student precious time and a whole lot of worry.

Rigor. You only have 650 words for the Common App, 350 for the UC PIQ's. Organization, prioritization, and ferocious editing are required - they have to be the right 650 or 350 words! Colleges may claim that grammar and syntax don't matter, but they do if they dull or confuse the impact of your storytelling.  Great writers seek out proofreaders, copy-editors, beta readers... and motivated college applicants need these services, too.  I can help you refine your story until it's exactly what it should be -  the best thing you ever wrote.  We work together to make the big or little changes that make all the difference. PS. Identifying those game-changing edits, quickly, is my superpower.  Saving students (and parents) time and frustration makes me (and you) happy!

My Background

I began working with college applicants in 2020 after completing a training with Encuentros, a non-profit organization that pairs professional writers with college seniors who may be the first in their families to attend college.  I was amazed to learn (from a longtime UC admissions officers and admissions essay readers) that there are serious do’s and don’ts when crafting college essay responses, and that they are not necessarily common knowledge.  I don't believe in "gatekeeping" information that would benefit many. I had a new writing mission: to share this knowledge with as many kids as I could! Since then, I have helped several dozen young people craft their college essays, via workshops, one-on-one Zoom sessions, and lots of swapping of Google Docs!

For more on my writing, business, and educational background, please check out the About Jen page and my C.V.:

The Process

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We typically start with a Zoom call (no charge!) where I find out your student’s goals, timeline, and  “where they are at”.  I will send them a Google Doc containing everything they need to organize and start writing their essays.  Then, there are four exchanges:

 

Student sends me outline / first draft essay(s) -- whatever they have.

    -- I return it with edits.  Zoom call to discuss/co-write.

Student sends me next draft

    -- I return it with edits.  Zoom call to discuss/co-write.

Student sends final draft

    -- I return it with final edits.  Zoom session if needed.

Student sends me completed essay.

    -- I proofread, and confirm “ready to submit”.

 

Every student is different. Some students like to check in by text, run ideas by me, go back and and forth. As a teacher and parent of two teens myself, I am all about encouraging their independence and I am 100% willing to meet students where they are at.

"Does My Student Really Need a Coach?"

School counselors, English teachers, even some internet essay gurus can be great resources for college essay writers.  College websites have terrific guides on answering their own essay prompts!  There are lots of resources out there, and I'm glad to share my favorites. (coming to website soon. too busy with essays. Essayhell has quality guidance!)

 

Here is what I've found though, through my students' experience: not every counselor or college advisor is a gifted writer or writing teacher.  They might tell you your essay is great, and you're like... are you sure?  Or they might recommend an adjustment to an essay, a good piece of advice... and then the student has no idea how to actually implement that. That's where the writing coach comes in with a technician's eye for content and detail, as well as an artist's feel for craft: for turning experiences and feelings into words that shine.

If your student feels fantastic about their essay, and you agree that's it's all there -- then go ahead and submit it!  Everyone has their own feeling, and process.  I will tell you though, as an author, poet, and writer... I would not dream of submitting an important (uh, life-changingly important) piece of work without having my Writing Salon, experienced writers and editors, etc., signing off on it first. I can't tell you how many times they have caught not just the random typo, but places where I really could have done better.  It takes both writers and readers to make a great essay!  Think about that... 

 

Finally: My "why".  I do this work because I genuinely believe in the possibilities in language, self-expression, storytelling, and I LOVE giving kids the tools they need to succeed!  Also, please know, I am careful to accept only a limited number of students at any given time. I won't be happy unless I can give your student my full energy and attention!

How Do I Get Started?

For rates, availability and to schedule a free consultation, contact Jen.

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