Encouragement Is Key
When I see a certain skill strength, we capitalize on that, and we note that this skill set works.
I know how essential encouragement is. I learned this from years of coaching high school students, years of receiving feedback from literary agents, editors, and colleagues, and now my current work in an MFA program for creative writing. I’m nervous waiting for my professor to comment on my work!
I don’t spin or inflate; I celebrate that skill and knowledge the student already brings to the table. It’s the student’s secret super power that often is not already known or recognized.
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.
Often those who consider themselves the worst writers are the best storytellers and perfectly suited to do the work before us.
Ask the tutor you’re vetting how they encourage their students.
Line Edits to Love
I’m the type of tutor who gives big-picture suggestions and close-up suggestions. I give students a list of steps to take and highly-detailed line edits in every paragraph. I make sure that the rationale for doing what I’m asking is very clear.
I also give grammar and mechanics rules. You won’t fix a comma on my watch without knowing why.
Ask the tutor you’re vetting what edits look like and the level of detail.
Differentiated for You
Every student is unique. With Success Story, no one gets the same treatment, because no one is the same.
Many tutors wait till writing is submitted to see what a student already knows and can do, then walk that student through the edits on a draft, keeping the draft the focus rather than the skill sets that need to be developed. Whether well-intentioned or not, both the person and the process can get trumped by the document.
The student can leave the session feeling that they are only as good as the document they produced, which is often an early draft and not at all representative of what the student as writer can do.
Ask the tutor you’re vetting whether she prepares live coaching sessions for the student or if it’s more of a “let’s-see-how-it-goes” session.
Students bring different skill strengths and gaps to the table. So when I see a certain gap, I identify a strategy and task to address the challenge. I share both guides and model essays a student needs to move forward.
- Does the student struggle with providing meaningful detail? Then let’s define what substantive evidence looks like, and how to render it cinematically so application readers remember you.
- Does the student struggle with focus and argument? Then let’s define the “So What?” or theme you want to communicate by discussing what values matter to you and how you can express them on the page.
I help students identify compelling details and deliver their own insightful interpretations. With my Gold Coin-Blue Sky coaching method, 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.
Tons of Materials
Students get model essays to annotate. They get skillbuilder handouts with strategies. They get guides. Again, we get right to it with examples students need. We don’t speak in abstract descriptions or hypotheticals. I show students what works.
Ask the tutor you’re vetting what materials she provides.
Teach You to Fish
Success Story understands that students need to build lifelong skills. This college essay writing exercise is really about the long-term life as a writer, not just this task. So we talk about why these strategies work as we think about purpose, audience, and structure.
My service plans are short and efficient, and students walk away with a game plan and list of next steps so they can move forward with their process. Students retain access to their folder of guides, my detailed line edits, and model essays until they are accepted to college.
Ask the tutor you’re vetting how she teaches a student to fish.
Your Time is Precious
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. I get that if you extend the writing experience for too long, it can stress everyone out.
Parents and students alike love the schedule because there’s no need for additional reminders–“What day is everything due? Do you have something for your tutor?” Everyone can get access to the shared calendar and all my feedback, anytime. Recordings of live sessions and access to slides are included.
What we accomplish in one hour of live coaching is powerful, and the amount and range of feedback a student receives per paragraph is thorough.
Ask the tutor you’re vetting how long it takes to get an essay started and drafted.
Flexible Plans Suited to Your Needs
If the student needs support with brainstorming, outlining, and drafting, and really appreciates live coaching, I recommend the 4-week Get Started services for up to 6 essay prompts.
If a student needs support with revision of existing, early drafts, try the 2-week Self-Starter services.
If a student needs just a few essays looked at before submission to colleges, try the Draft Review services (up to 1200 words). I recommend that returning students who have already practiced strategies with me try this one. Advanced student writers with strong backgrounds in creative writing and journalism are also welcome.
If you want a combination of all of the above, on a timeline of your choosing, try the Customized services plan.
Any of the above plans can be extended.
Differentiated, celebratory, efficient, and flexible: that’s the Success Story method.