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    Frequently Asked Questions

    How much time will it take me to write this essay if I haven't even started thinking about it?

    Writing a “thought” piece like a college essay (or writing a novel, for that matter) is as much about the time you’re NOT writing as it is about the time you spend staring at the blank page. You can brainstorm ideas in 20-30 minutes, but writing a first draft will depend on your comfort level with writing, your love for the topic you choose, and a host of other things. Can you get a great college essay done in 5-10 hours? Yes, but not in 5-10 consecutive hours

    I'm too busy to meet in person; can we just Skype and talk on the phone?

    Yes. If you’re in the Washington, D.C., metro area I’m happy to meet in person, but equally comfortable with Skype, email, and phone conversations.

    I live across country from you; can you still coach me?

    Of course. I’m a former Oregonian and many of the students I’ve coached live on the west coast. I just can’t coach you at, say, 10 p.m. Pacific Time, but we can work it out.

    What's the best time to work on my college essay? Should I get it done over the summer before my senior year? Is it too late if I wait until the fall?

    I believe that rest is an important part of the creative process (I even wrote a column about it, here:, so if you need a break from thinking about AP, IB, SATs, ACTs, the Common App, etc., then take the summer off. But I also believe that the sooner you get started in the fall the better, because you’re going to get busy.

    Will working with you get me into my dream school?

    Working with me will get you the best essay YOU can write. I can’t guarantee your dream school, but I can guarantee you’ll feel good about your essay and your efforts.

    How important is my essay vs. the other elements of my application?

    Your essay is a chance to have your unique voice heard, to become something more than a transcript and test scores. That’s important.

    What is the advantage of choosing your hourly fee?

    Some students need help with just one aspect of the process, such as brainstorming, outlining, or editing. Students can accomplish a lot in just a few hours of focused attention.

    How much time do you spend with most students?

    It depends on the student, on the time the student has spent thinking about/drafting/writing before coming to me, and on each student’s needs and goals. I have spent as little as an hour reading, editing, and proofreading an essay a student has written on her own, and I have spent 15 or more hours working with students who tried several different ideas and wrote several drafts before finding the story they wanted to tell and figuring out how they wanted to tell it.

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