Guiding Students Through the Entire Writing Process
How Writing Coaching Works
At this stage, I'm here to help you generate interesting topics for your essays. I often use a technique called "free-writing" which helps draw out and develop different ideas and angles, and really think through what you want to say. In Brainstorming, we will work together to push through any writer's block and develop a list of possible essay ideas based on your experiences, values, and interests. Best topics may be very personal and focused on those moments that really get to the heart of YOU. In this beginning stage, I can also share examples of successful college essays written by other college applicants, so students can see what a good college essay sounds like. Many students find this beneficial. I will also share a list of "do's and don't's" based on feedback from admissions reps from around the country and help you find the best way to capture your unique and individual voice and story.
Once we have a topic, you will work to write your first draft and when you feel you have a good working structure, you will share you draft with me via Google Docs. I use the "Suggestion" tool on Google Docs to make some suggestions and comments about how to improve or rethink your essay. I will not change anything permanently on your document. I let you know when I've reviewed your draft, then you review my comments and suggestions and either accept or reject them as you see fit. Then you revise your draft again and we follow this same process as many times as needed until we have a solid essay. At this point, my comments will be pretty broad since we are still working on the approach and structure of the essay. I will guide you along the way and make sure we are heading in the right direction. We can work only remotely via Google Docs or "meet" via Zoom or FaceTime, or chat on the phone if needed.
At this stage of the process, we are ready to closely examine your language, sentence structure, word choice, and word count. Most essays give you a pretty restrictive structure and word count, so we need to make sure every word counts! This part of the process will usually take place around the 3rd or 4th draft. We may still be revising as well, but my comments will now be more specific about how you say what you're saying. Surprisingly, most admissions representatives are NOT impressed by all the "big words" you know, but want more just to hear your voice. At this stage we will also work on making sure your essay really captures who you are, the way you speak and interact with the world. These last edits can be a little tedious, but these tweaks often make the difference between a good essay and a great one.
This is the final and most important part of the process. You must make sure your essay has no typos or major grammar mistakes. You are trying to convince a college that you are worthy of admission, that you are a serious student who cares about your work. If you submit a essay with major errors, that says something about who you are. We also will review the topic and essay requirements to make sure we have followed the directions to the letter before you submit. In addition, I often ask you to read your essay aloud to yourself several times and to your parents before we submit. This "read aloud" is an effective way to double check that your essay reads well, captures your voice, and feels authentic. It's also a wonderful way to catch last minute mistakes because if the work doesn't read well, we know it still needs tweaking. Once we decide we are comfortable and happy with the work, we are ready to submit the essay.
One Final Note about the Writing Process:
No one knows in advance how many times I will need to review each of your essays. It is difficult to predict how long it will take you to write, review, and revise each one and will vary depending on each student's insights and efforts. Sometimes the students with the best ideas need more time to put them into words, and sometimes the students who think they have nothing to say actually write their essays very quickly once they get started. Usually, we will move through 4-6 coaching reviews per essay, but it may be many more. Allow time for this process as it is time-consuming and requires quite of bit of thought. I recommend giving each essay about three weeks to fully work through the writing process I've outlined above.This means working way ahead of deadlines for submission! I will help!
DISCLAIMER: I cannot guarantee admission to any college or university if you use my service. If any counselor or coach offers or suggests that kind of guarantee, RUN. College admissions is a multi-layered and unpredictable process and there are NO guarantees. However, I do promise that I will do my best to make writing college essays less intimidating and help your students find their confidence as writers to develop the best essays they can!