Why choose Success Story?
Success Story offers a personalized writing workshop experience for a high school or middle school student: developmentally-appropriate, differentiated, individualized coaching from an experienced educator and author. With Success Story methods in storytelling, structure, and persuasion, students write essays sharing their authentic selves, making their profile leap from the applications pile.
With Success Story’s unique coaching methods to develop evidence, a thesis, and elaboration, students quickly see their abilities to write both specifically and generally, and harness these key writing techniques.
With Success Story’s unique storytelling strategies (character transformation, stakes and incidents, suspense), students can make their achievements and experiences notable to institutions they hope to attend.
With my coaching in the skills of brainstorming, outlining, drafting, and revision, students can stretch with a sense of empowerment. Using model essays from my students who have been accepted to a range of schools–including Cornell, Brown, DePaul, Elon, NC State, Rice, Duke, and UNC-Chapel Hill, among others–I help students see successful writing strategies. I make concrete the high-level concepts of rigorous standards students hear all the time, but don’t always understand. Students can see clearly how they can take their writing to the next level. My goal is to make sure every student emerges with enhanced skills or brand-new ones so that they will also experience success in college.
Success Story’s coaching schedule provides efficient and feasible deadlines within a few weeks in order to give students needed structure.
I celebrate a student’s unique voice and let them tell the tale their way while also building skills for better storytelling.
What is your expertise?
As a Stanford graduate, as an English teacher who has coached students from competitive schools, as an expert in gifted education, and as an award-winning young adult fiction author, I know what stories get the attention of universities. I help talented students use powerful storytelling strategies so they can share their accomplishments, personality, and character with colleges. Throughout my career, I have developed academic skill builders for students to move to the next level as well as creative writing exercises so students can develop techniques essential to college admissions essays.
As someone who has recently applied to graduate school for her MFA, I’ve been through the college admissions process and wrestled with essays. As someone who has queried agents and editors, I get what it takes to present your best self in order to be accepted and published. As a long-time recruiter and professional development specialist, I have conducted interviews and coached staff. I can help a person enhance their self-representation and see what they do well. More about Lyn’s credentials.
What methods do you use for coaching?
What we accomplish in one hour of live coaching is powerful, and the amount and range of feedback your child receives per paragraph is thorough. I prepare highly-individualized coaching sessions based on a student’s unique writing needs, and I provide a range of skill-building line edits with specific guidance and encouragement. Students leave the live sessions to meet two asynchronous deadlines per week, revising rapidly and taking their drafts from zero to sixty, in a way that most coaches accomplish in several weeks.
Why? This long-time English teacher doesn’t want to waste anyone’s time. I know you don’t have forever for this process, and that a student can be a quick study in the skills of immersive storytelling in you deliver the right mini-lessons. I harness students’ innate understanding of cinema and short-form video to help them write in ways an application reader will forget they’re reading and see the student as a fascinating individual.
With Success Story’s unique coaching method to help students develop compelling details and insightful interpretations (my Gold Coin – Blue Sky strategy), students quickly see their abilities to write both specifically and generally within a single paragraph. With a focus on storyteller techniques, students learn to hook a reader from the first sentence, raise the stakes, and make personal stories engaging.
After assessing students’ writing, Success Story offers a large range of targeted exercises differentiated to student readiness and interest so writing skills are maximized and any gaps get addressed. We begin with low-stakes brainstorming exercises to get ideas flowing, and move quickly to thoughtful planning of Gold Coin examples that leap off the page to match the Blue Sky claims students make.
I also am a huge fan of College Essay Guy and his masterful approach to bringing students’ voices to life while teaching core skills of narrative. When I found his materials, they resonated with my approaches I’ve had with students for years, while also enhancing, amplifying, and bettering my methods.
What does a typical week of services include?
- at least one live coaching session via Zoom (see service plans for specifics)
- individualized assignments and deadlines for brainstorming, drafting, or revision, depending on the service plan, including exercises addressing skill gaps and harnessing skill strengths. Students work on these asynchronously.
- detailed feedback–line edits and summary notes–on drafts or outlines
- essay models–returned to students within 48 hours
- weekly updates and reminders to student and parent
- revision plans and goals for next steps beyond services
What do past clients say about Success Story?
Read some testimonials.
Which plan should I choose?
Success Story is a personalized writing and coaching workshop for students at various stages of the writing process.
If you need support with brainstorming, outlining, and drafting, try the Get Started services.
If you need support with revision of existing, early drafts, try the Self-Starter services.
If you need just a few essays looked at before submission to colleges, try the Draft Review services (4 days of revision support).
If you want a combination of all of the above, on a timeline of your choosing, try the Customized services plan.
How does scheduling work?
All services are usually offered in two- or four-week periods. I am glad to extend services if families feel more time is needed, schedule depending. Students work independently based on regular deadlines agreed to in the contract, and attend live coaching sessions Monday through Wednesdays at scheduled times.
For additional fees, families can book an additional time for services. Please book early.
Why is the schedule organized in two- or four-week blocks?
Success Story is a personalized writing workshop tailored to meet student needs, using individualized tasks based on best practices in writing workshops: brainstorming, outlining, drafting, and revision. Whether in two or four weeks, a student who commits to the process can efficiently generate ideas, outlines, and drafts within a short period of time.
Everyone does better with structure, so weekly deadlines–always midnight on Wednesdays and Sundays–allow a cycle of skill practice, drafting, and revision. Both parents and students know when tasks are due.
Some students may need double the time, and that’s okay. If you need a second round of Get Started, we can make that happen. If you need another round of drafting and revision, sign up for Self Starter again. You might also choose to do two rounds of a Customized services plan.
What do live coaching sessions provide?
Live coaching sessions via Zoom provide interactive, skill-based demonstrations and practice, paragraph-by-paragraph essay review, and moral support. No coaching session is the same, because every student is unique.
All sessions are recorded and provided to both student and parent after the session.
When are you available for live coaching?
Live coaching sessions via Zoom are conducted early in the week to start the process off with encouragement and skill practice, as well as real-time feedback. Mondays through Wednesdays, 3:00 PM till 9:00 PM ET, are standard business hours. I will do my best to accommodate other time zones when I can. Please feel free to inquire regarding a special time you may need.
Why do we sign a participation agreement?
The Success Story method relies on weekly deadlines and a tight cycle of drafting and feedback. Coaching strategies require students complete exercises, drafts, and revisions on a regular schedule.
The Success Story system will not serve you without commitment by all parties. Questions you should ask yourself before signing the Student & Parent Agreement include
- Do I, the student, have time (5-7 hours per week) to do this work?
- Do I, the student, have time for live coaching on Mondays – Wednesdays?
- Have you as a family identified schools and essay prompts?
- Am I, the student, mentally and emotionally ready to begin writing?
- Am I, the parent, able to provide structure and support during the consulting period?
View the Participation Agreement.
How does payment work?
To secure a spot, you must pay a 50% deposit at the time of scheduling services in order to retain your requested schedule. Billing for the remainder occurs halfway through the service period.
Success Story will accept payments through Square.
What happens if we cancel or we miss the first deadline?
If a family must cancel and/or if a student does not meet the first deadline (submission of materials and/or live coaching session), the deposit is held by Success Story until services are rescheduled.
Availability of services in subsequent weeks or months is not guaranteed. If no satisfactory time can be found, the deposit will be refunded.
How will we communicate during the consulting period?
Email is the primary method of communication. Success Story ccs the parent on all email communications with the student. Success Story is unable to provide support via text.
Zoom is our web conferencing software for live coaching sessions, and sessions are recorded.
Success Story uses Google Documents and folders in Drive. This platform allows student and consultant edit rights, as well as a version history. Parents can visit anytime to see progress.
Success Story uses email almost exclusively for the following reasons:
- To maintain a record of deadlines, expectations, consultations, and communications
- To help students with keeping to a study plan that requires careful reading and preparation
- To help students with maintaining a professional level of communications and expectations.
- To protect student privacy
- To keep parents informed
What is your refund policy?
Because Success Story prepares materials specifically for the student before the student begins, a full refund can only be given for families who cancel 3 days prior (by Friday, 8 AM ET, before the first Monday/week of services). The total deposit will be refunded at that time. Late cancellations will be refunded 50% of the deposit.
If a student does not meet the first week’s deadlines (submission of assignments and/or attend a prescheduled live coaching session), Success Story reserves the right to refund the deposit and cancel services.
Services can be rescheduled for a subsequent month, but availability of services is not guaranteed.
What can you guarantee?
Success Story guarantees a personalized writing workshop with detailed feedback, expert assessment and coaching, and honesty about student strengths and areas for growth. Success Story guarantees regular and reliable communications.
Success Story cannot guarantee completion of any student assignment, since that is the student’s responsibility.
Success Story cannot guarantee acceptance to any college due to the varying factors for college admissions, the fact that the consultant does not participate in the original college selection process or assist with other aspects of the application, and because Success Story is not present for submission of final versions of essays.
See more information on Services.
What student is ideal for Success Story?
Is the student struggling to start their college essays? Are they not sure which stories to tell or how to stand out from the crowd? Do they need a schedule and a coach to stay on track?
All writing ability levels are welcome. If a student brings a strong work ethic and makes substantive time for the process, much can be accomplished.
Do you provide consultation on college choices?
No, I leave that to college guidance experts.
Do you provide consultation on résumés or CVs? Do you help with other parts of the application?
No, I leave that to the student and trusted sources such as parents, guidance counselors, and teachers who know a student’s history. I ask to see résumés and CVs during the writing process in order to help you tell your best stories.
Need a great résumé template? Check out these free ones from College Essay Guy, Ethan Sawyer. Need help with your Activities List? Check out advice from College Essay Guy, Ethan Sawyer.