Each word must serve a precise thematic and artistic purpose. This is never truer than with pieces of institutionally limited length. As Lorrie Moore put it in Anagrams (not with an eye toward admission essays, but nonetheless fittingly):
“A line is like a lifeboat—only a limited number of words get to go in it and you have to decide which word-lives are most valuable—the others die.” *
I’m here to help you make the choice of whom to let drown. And if you’ve got no word-lives from which to choose, I’ll help you fill the boat.
COLLEGE ADMISSION ESSAYS
Your grades and test scores may be great—but if you’re accomplished enough to have earned them, you don’t need me to tell you they won't always grant you admission to the most selective colleges. In these competitive times, you’re not the only applicant with a leadership role or a coveted internship. The rest of your application demonstrates what you've DONE; the admission essay is your chance to convey who you ARE. There are only two tools in your arsenal that none of your peers can duplicate: your IDEAS and your WORDS. The essay is your chance to mold them into something the admissions committee hasn’t seen before.
SCHOOL ADMISSION ESSAYS
PRESCHOOL & KINDERGARTEN
Feeling defeated over your child’s school admission essay? Why not consult one of NYC’s most undervalued resources—the nanny? Specifically, the nanny with a Master’s in Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University. My experience as such entails sustained, cross-sectional exposure to scores of young families. I know the incomparable market of NYC schooling—from toddler classes through high school, public and private. I’m passionate about helping NYC parents navigate that shadowy stressor that links them together while simultaneously pitting them against one another: the school application essay.
My goal is to guide you in creating an essay you’ll treasure—not only because it'll (hopefully) help get your child into Shmalton or the 922nd Street XYZ, but because it captures what you love about your child. When you succeed at translating your child’s specifics onto the page, s/he’s no longer a candidate; s/he’s a character. Characters make for interesting reads; candidates don't.
Why is it so difficult to find words that do justice to a real-life character? In the words of one of my most gifted college writing professors, “Only ideas are perfect. Language is the imperfect medium of thought.” * Thus I’m here to assist with the leap from those perfect ideas about your child to the language that best embodies them. Or, if you’ve already got a draft, from adequate language into language that renders your child 3-D.
* Thank you, Dr. Alec Marsh.
MIDDLE SCHOOL & HIGH SCHOOL
These years are challenging enough without having to compete for admission to school. Competitive school admission being the NYC reality, however, there's a benefit to having an impartial party—rather than a parent—collaborate with the student who is writing the application essay. Nothing rocks family relations more easily than a well-intentioned parent's critique of a stressed student's work.
I'll take the heat for you—I have nothing to lose. I strike a delicate balance between being rigorous and relatable—gaining the tween or teen's trust and setting the expectation for nothing short of his/her best work. Whether your child is struggling to summon necessary motivation or is ambitious in the admission process, MyLearningZone will improve his/her chances of attending the school you've selected.
PERSONAL STATEMENTS / SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION ESSAYS
You’ve got all the qualifications for this scholarship. You completed the forms and short-answer questions weeks ago. The thought of the essay, however, leads you to reconsider whether you actually have a shot at beating out the competition. I could remind you that "You have to be in it to win it," but that's insufficient motivation for most people when faced with a blank page. Sometimes all that stands between a strong applicant and a strong application is a partner like MyLearningZone—one that's removed from the stakes, serves as an editorial sounding board, and is experienced in a range of writing styles.