- I teach writing to young people. I’ve taught as an adjunct professor of journalism at American University and at Writopia, an organization that teaches creative writing to kids.
- I’ve written three novels (working on a fourth), all published by major publishing houses (Hyperion and HarperCollins)
- I’ve spent more than 20 years as a professional writer, reporter, and editor for national publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, and others.
How can you explain who you are in 650 words or less?
Writing a smart, insightful, unique, interesting college essay isn’t easy. It requires introspection, self-awareness, good organizational skills, creativity, patience, and perseverance. But it doesn’t have to be stressful, and it doesn’t have to feel like pushing a boulder uphill.
Writing a college essay can be engaging, challenging, illuminating, and confidence building.
A good college essay is as much about choosing what story to tell as it is about writing. And a good essay is exactly that, a great story. Every student has great stories. The task is to figure out which one to tell, and to tell it in a clear, strong voice that’s all your own. That’s where a good editor can help.
I’ve spent 20 years working with words as reporter, writer, editor, journalist, and author. As an editor, I’ve learned to listen for each writer’s individual voice and to be true to that in every piece. As a reporter, I understand how to interview people to get them to talk about the things that really matter to them. And as a writer I know how to craft a piece of writing in a way that makes it seamless, powerful, and memorable—exactly what you want in a college essay.
“Working with Kathy was a pleasure, not only because she is so friendly and warm as a person, but also because her feedback was so positive and constructive. I never felt like my ideas were ‘crappy’ and all of her comments helped me maintain the integrity of the original work while also making it much, MUCH better!”
WHAT I DO
- Give your student a short, creative questionnaire to spark ideas.
- Interview each student to discuss his or her history.
- Review and help select which question she or he is going to write about.
- Brainstorm essay ideas.
- Interview parents to get another point-of-view.
- Discuss the basic elements of a good essay.
- Read and critique drafts, from the first to the fifteenth (or however many it takes).
- Suggest edits.
- Teach the student how to copyedit and proofread.
- Help the student edit to fit required word counts.
- Copyedit and proofread.
- Celebrate when acceptances roll in.
WHAT I DON’T DO
- Write students’ essays for them.
- Tell them what to write.
- Change the voice of an essay so it sounds like anyone other than your student.