Here are some of the questions we receive most often from STUDENTS. If you don’t see your question here, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
+ How do you help students without writing his or her essay?
As a teachers, the integrity of a student’s work is our number one priority. Writing Specialists work with students to help elicit ideas and then craft them into writing that reflects their best voice. If we read sentences that feel choppy, are structurally awkward or grammatically incorrect, we will simply mark them as such (for example, “Choppy – try again”, “Passive voice – try flipping the subject and object and/or rephrase without the verb ‘to be'”, etc). Built into this work/these comments are brief, digestible lessons in essay organization, transitions between paragraphs, vocabulary building, grammar and sentence structure. For this reason, former students often report that they learn significant writing skills when working with a Writing Specialist through this process. Alas, no, we won’t write your essay for you! (But we will guide you as you write essays you can be proud of and call your own.)
+ How much work will I have left once the workshop is over?
With the workshop under your belt, you will have topics picked for all of your essays and second drafts of two to four of them. You will know exactly what to do next, as all your drafts (plus an Additional Information piece if necessary) will have comments on them. A “second draft” to us means that we believe that you have enough information to move forward with the organization, content and writing of your essays; you could go on to make revisions and continue to revise with support from us, someone else or on your own. You will be on your way, but you won’t be done.
+ How much does work beyond the workshop usually cost?
This is a question we get a lot. Our best response is that every student is different – this is about the student’s time management skills, personal writing experience, and even application profile (or how many essays to write). But, the long and short of it is that the average student comes back to us after a workshop for about four hours of work (either on-line or in person). There are some students who come back for every draft of every essay and some who come back just a few times to check in.
+ Is a workshop better for me than 1:1 meetings or vice versa?
By and large, for the majority of students, our workshop makes the most sense as a starting point. In the summer personal statement workshop, you have a chance to take your time to consider topic possibilities, hear what others have to say about essay examples, practice the writing techniques in a non-pressured environment and still get one-on-one attention and writing time. If you are starting basically from scratch, a workshop is likely the best way to go.
However, if our workshop dates do not work with your schedule, then you should start with 1:1 meetings. Also, if you have already picked a topic and have it confirmed with a college counselor or someone in the know and have begun drafting that essay OR you simply prefer one-on-one work over a class setting, then one-on-one work makes more sense for you.
Our workshops do not include public sharing of personal writing or topic possibilities.
(In terms of the cost to product ratio, the workshop and one-on-one work end up about the same.)
+ Once I am done with my personal statement(s), what comes next with composed Writing Specialists?
First and foremost, we believe that your personal statement(s) should be almost complete before you dive into any other essay work. This is to avoid redundancies on your application.
We offer many services following the finalization of your personal statement(s):
- supplemental essay planning
- supplemental essay review (online or in person work that typically moves much more quickly than the personal statement work)
- Plotting Supplements and Asking Why?! – a end of summer/early fall workshop to learn best practices for planning supplemental essay topics and addressing the common “Why are you applying to this school?” prompt
- Stay Composed writing sessions – 2-hour quiet work time at the composed office to write/revise essays while receiving real time feedback on essays in progress through Google Docs
- regular newsletter updates – this is sent to all students and parents who register to work with composed
+ Will you keep me on deadlines with reminders?
Great question. Workshop students get reminders of their initial due dates. For one-on-one students, we offer a suggested first draft due date (usually worked out during our meeting). We typically remind you of those dates. That said, our philosophy is that you are about to go to college, so managing a long-term project like a college essay profile should be something you can do on your own. We also know that some students do not excel in time management. We work with families to figure out what reasonable expectations might be, but our default is that students are expected to meet our deadlines without reminders.
We offer OUR own deadlines as a way for students to plan backwards – for example, we usually “close up shop” around December 22 since most applications are due January 1. Our last day to take any UC essay is typically around the 15th of November. Our last day for Early Admissions (Nov. 1) essays is usually around October 20th. These deadlines are for final review.
Throughout the season, we have a seven-day turnaround, so students cannot and should not expect immediate response at the last minute.
+ How much does on-line essay review typically cost?
Typically, a first draft of a personal statement (or any 500-700 word essay) takes somewhere between 30 - 40 minutes. On this first draft, we make comments on any and all work – content, organization, writing, approach and topic. After a first draft, depending on the piece and your ability to take in and apply written feedback, a second draft will take more like 20-30 minutes. Usually our reading time is cut in about 1/2 with each review, though sometimes there is a slight uptick in time spent on a final or almost final draft because we are really looking with a fine-toothed comb.
+ If I am already almost done my application essay writing and just need a proofreader, will you take me on as a student?
We are willing to take on new students who are in the end of their process, but with the caveat that we may suggest big changes and/or an overhaul. If we do not agree with your topic or approach or organization (i.e. we suggest large-scale changes), this can be stressful for you, so please keep that in mind! (We always do our best to meet you wherever you are!)
We are typically fully booked by the end of September.