Course Description

Time: Open-ended. We’ll work on your statement until it’s application-worthy. One week we might meet three times via Zoom; another week our interaction might be entirely via email. Vaccinations permitting, we might meet in person for an hour when need be.

My Approach: I’ll use Ethan Sawyer’s excellent book, College Essay Essentials, to guide you through the essay-writing process. You’ll begin by making lists and free-writing about your hobbies, interests and personality as a way to generate essay topics. Once you decide what you want to write about (with a lot of input from me), we’ll move onto the first draft, and then a second, and then a third …

In short, the process goes like this:

  1. With my help, you generate ideas for your personal statement.
  2. You choose the idea that interests you the most.
  3. You write a bad first draft.
  4. You get feedback from me and write a better draft.
  5. We rinse and repeat #4 until we’re both happy with the overall content of your essay.
  6. We focus on sentence-level writing, tiny details, punctuation, etc.
  7. You hold in your hands an essay that you’re proud of and feel represents who you are and what you have to offer.

I’ll be with you all the way through this process, making helpful suggestions, asking questions, offering feedback, and helping you polish your essay to a high shine. The one thing I won’t do is write it for you. Your essay will be entirely your work, which is as it should be.

What Do I, Frances, Bring to the Table?

I’ve been a writer all of my life and am a New York Times best-selling author of middle grade and young adult fiction. I’ve won a bunch of awards (you could look it up). So I know a lot about the writing process and how to write well. I’ve taught essay writing on the college level and worked with young writers in school settings, small groups and one-on-one for the last ten years. I have a passion for helping reluctant writers get over their fear of writing.

Most recently, I’ve taken courses with Ethan Sawyer, aka The College Essay Guy, in order to hone my skills as a tutor and learn more about what college admissions officers are looking for in students’ personal statements and supplemental essays. I’ve also gone through the college application process with my two sons, both of whom got into their first-choice schools.