Using creative writing prompts and gentle coaching, I have students start writing immediately. Once they begin, their fear dissolves and they begin to understand that what they have stored in unexpected places can be fodder for a successful college essay. The work of outlining, refining and editing will be a joy if the student feels that the essay speaks honestly about something he or she is excited about relaying. Email feedback is a critical and valuable part of this process and students are encouraged to work within the agreed upon time frame to read the feedback, consider the questions being posed, and deliver drafts with improvements that will result in a final, polished essay.Before in-person session student must give the Personal Interview Worksheet their initial responses. I will provide the worksheet the week prior to our session.

Two-hour in-person session
In one two-hour session students can expect to brainstorm topics from their personal interview worksheet, review best practices and tips for writing a successful college essay, and free write on prompts that will generate material, including an outline (s) for the student to develop further during the feedback period.

Students will be helped to access details and feelings about particular moments, scenes, and places that bring their stories to life. They will leave energized and confident that they have stories that they want to tell.

Between in-person and 1st round of email feedback
Once students leave in-person session things tend to slow down. I encourage students to hold space to develop the essays we brainstormed together. The more effort they put in up front, the more productive the feedback rounds will prove.

Send up to three essays (or a total of 1500 words) in one email attachment. It is best if the student completes first drafts of all the essays we’ve agreed to work on in one email so they move at the same pace through the drafting/editing process.[/slider]

Feedback Round One his is where the bulk of the feedback occurs. Questions and comments will be posed in the Track Changes feature of a word document. Students are encouraged to brainstorm those questions on a separate sheet of paper and not try to incorporate directly into the essay at first. They may find a new direction or a creative response that they wouldn’t have uncovered had they tried to work within the confines of the first draft.

This process requires introspection and a willingness to be thoughtful about the journey your piece is taking and what it is reflecting about you. The comments will help only if you take them to heart as you re-draft your piece.[/slider]

Between Feedback Round One and 2nd Draft

Student will acknowledge feedback was received and the deadline requested. They are invited to ask any questions they want as they interpret the comments.

This is the most time consuming re-drafting. So students should take time with this round – the rest will go more easily and quickly!

Feedback Round Two
This round will focus on clarifying the tone of your piece, making sure your voice is yours and that you have sufficient detail to make your piece unique to you. Additional comments and questions will be posed to help tighten the overall structure of the piece.[/slider]

Between Feedback Round Two and 3rd Draft

Student will acknowledge feedback was received and the deadline requested. Student is invited to ask questions and dialogue about the feedback as necessary.

Student will consider feedback thoughtfully and produce a 3rd draft that they are proud of and consider complete.

Feedback Final Round Three

This final feedback session will focus on reviewing the essay with a fine tooth comb and celebrating your accomplishment!

The Final Choice is Yours to Make
Students should expect their essays to improve during the drafting period. However, some students peter out after the first draft thinking it’s good enough. Or they get so bogged down with schoolwork and other deadlines that they have trouble committing the time to delve deeper into their essays. I will encourage them to take the feedback to heart, but the final choice is theirs. Once they make that call, I’ll proof read it and they can move on to something else.

Note To Parents

A note about supporting your child’s essay topic: If you are comfortable that your child will work with me to choose stories that he or she is interested in telling, which will answer the questions posed without repeating information already in the application, and also tells the college something they wouldn’t have otherwise known about your child, then you will be very happy with the outcome of their work with me.It is important that your child chooses a topic that has meaning for them and not something that we wish they saw or valued in themselves. I want the most for my students and you want the most for your children, but if we confuse them with our adult perspectives and glowing assessments of their self worth, we’ll just cloud the process that the college is seeking to ignite: a thoughtful, introspective writing challenge to garner a glimpse of the student in 3-D.

I spend considerable time steering them away from a conditioned response to sound much wiser than their years, or to create generalizations about hackneyed themes. When they do that their essays only hide them from what the college is working pretty hard to learn more about. Their essays have to sound like them or colleges will see our handprints, and we’ll end up hurting rather than helping their chance of admission.

It is important that parents encourage their children to hold space to write the essays, and then sit back and let them do the work!

What to bring to your in-person session

Bring your responses to the Personal Interview Worksheet

Bring personal interview questions, notebook, pen and up to three prompts (a maximum of 1500 words) that you’d like to work on. You don’t have to know your prompts to develop material to use in any of a number of college essays, including common application’s topic of choice and 200 word question.  So if you just bring yourself, that’s a good place to start!