A Little About Me
After graduating from Princeton, I spent years in the business world as a software entrepreneur. I designed and launched many applications for a variety of clients, including one of my own that flamed out gloriously.
That last one was a painful, valuable experience. It was also a blessing.
I was able to return to my first love: writing, and helping others to develop skill and confidence as they write. Many freelance pieces, a published novel and deep study of the craft have helped me to understand good writing.
But I believe fatherhood more than anything has made me a great college essay coach.
As a father of two teenaged daughters, I know how to patiently help young people find and develop their own voice. Working with students at the most stressful moment of their lives – helping them stay calm and create great writing – is the most rewarding work I have ever done.
There is nothing better than receiving text messages with those three magic words: “I got in!!!”
That said, what I really appreciate about my students is not their victories but their struggles. Today’s admissions process is a brutal gauntlet that sometimes begins very early in a child’s life. Buried in all of that hard work are the seemingly mundane experiences that students forget they should celebrate.
Experiences that lead to great essays.
Essays and personal statements are rapidly eclipsing standardized test scores as one of the most important elements of the college application.
I can help your students connect with the ideas, skills and positive attitudes that will set their work apart from the crowd. They will write essays that are both effective and eloquent. Together, we can turn a stressful task into a valuable asset.
RELAX, WE HAVE A plan.
Before we even begin, we'll talk -- or you'll talk. I'll listen.
The goal is for you to present your authentic, three-dimensional, unvarnished self in a way that college admissions people can understand, appreciate, respect and perhaps even love.
Before you can do that, you need to see yourself clearly, and honestly. The things you care about the most are the things you will write about the best. First, I'll help you get there with some exercises developed by the best minds in the business (and me too).
Then, on to the writing.
My process is based on a few steps that I have used in my own writing to break the hypnotic inertia of the blank page:
Step 1: Re-FRAME THE TASK
Visualization helps reduce stress and build confidence. We naturally think in images before we find words for them. All stories start that way, often unconsciously. We'll do it deliberately, using description and detail to focus your thinking before you write a word.
Step 2: BUILD THE FORM OF THE STORY
I'll show you how story form can seize the reader's attention and hold it. We'll use structure as a base on which to build creativity and confidence. Your ideas will gain strength and impact once you know how to organize them.
Step 3: FINGERPAINTING WITH WORDS
Ann Lamott calls them "sh*tty first drafts." All good writers use them to free up their voice and silence their inner editor. Think of it as sketching a rough storyboard with words, letting your thoughts flow without judgment or interference.
Step 4: WRITING. AND REWRITING.
In the previous step, you got something on the page. You might not even think it qualifies as a first draft. But it does. Nothing good is ever written in the first round -- so we won't even try. It's in the rewriting that you will bring your words and images into sharp focus.
Step 5: GET FEEDBACK.
After you've polished it (again) and I've reviewed it (again), you'll share it with your counselors, family, maybe even friends... But before you do, you will decide what is sacred.
Opinions matter, but you matter more. Protect that.
Once you decide on the value of the feedback, rewrite again.
Using this process, you will produce effective essays for college applications, scholarship entries, or even day-to-day school assignments.
It is my hope that these lessons will also help you throughout the rest of your life as a writer, and as a person with a unique voice in this world.
We'll work through a series of exercises to help you zero in on your best essay topics.
Before you write, you'll tell your story out loud. Hearing it helps you decide if it works.
Good writing never happens on the first try. We'll hone your prose until it shines.
Weekly FaceTime calls keep you on track, and greatly reduce your deadline stress later on.
A PERSONAL NOTE
I am not a ghost writer. If you are looking for someone to write essays for your child, please contact someone else. I coach, they write.
You should also know one thing: ghost-written essays never work.
Many admissions directors have told me they know instantly when an essay is not the work of the student. I know instantly too, when parents write for their kids.
If you want a good result, let me help your child produce his/her best work. It's the right thing to do, the right lesson to teach, and the best way to avoid rejection.