FAQs from Parents:
1. How closely should I be working with my child on the essays? Should I suggest essay topics? Should I read over each draft?
The most effective and successful approach is if I work directly with your child to brainstorm ideas for essays and closely edit each draft until the essay is final. At the heart of every essay is a creative vision about what that essay is meant to accomplish, such as the messages about the student, the imagery that remains in the reader's mind, the tone of the writing. When a variety of people are involved in editing, the essay is often weakened by a conflict of messages and perspectives. If your child would like your input on an essay, it is up to him/her to share the essay with you. If you do provide input on an essay, the best time would be on the second draft.
2. What does it mean for you to "finalize" an essay?
I typically work with students on three drafts of each essay. When I feel the essay is the strongest possible representation of the particular student, and satisfies my high standards for a unique, creative, articulate and personal piece of writing, I stamp it "FINAL!" After that point, the student is certainly free to review the essay with additional people, but I have signed off on the essay and will not continue to review it. It's time to move on to the next essay!
3. How important are grammar and word choice in the essays?
Students should adhere to proper grammatical rules and use words effectively. Certainly, the goal is to produce polished, error-free writing. However, the most selective colleges in the country do not penalize students for occasional incorrect grammar or word choice on their college essays. Furthermore, it is extremely important that students use vocabulary that is appropriate to their age and experience. When I edit, my most important priorities are, in descending order: content that communicates unique and personal qualities, creativity, appropriate tone, effective structure, varied vocabulary and proper grammar. This hierarchy mirrors the priorities of college admissions officers in their reading of essays.
4. What are all the aspects of the application that you review?
I believe that every component of the application must be as high-quality as possible to maximize chances of college admission. Therefore, I review:
- Common Application Personal Essay
- Common Application form
- Essays for up to eight Common App Supplements or colleges' own applications
- College Resume
- Supplementary Resumes, e.g. Arts Resume or Athletic Resume, if applicable
I do not review the following essays as part of comprehensive college packages, but can arrange review on an hourly basis:
- Merit scholarship
- Research competitions
- Summer programs
- Gap year programs
5. How will you make sure my child completes his/her application responsibilities on time?
Your child will sign a contract at the first summer meeting that specifies his/her responsibilities. At the end of each meeting with me, your child and I will prepare a To Do List together, including mutually agreed-upon deadlines - and you will receive a copy. If I do not receive your students' To Do items at least 48 hours in advance of the next meeting, we will reschedule the meeting.
6. How often has a student of yours missed a college application deadline?
So far, never!
7. What is the most effective role that I can play in the application process?
There are various roles you can play that would be very helpful for your child:
(a) Provide emotional support: This is a very stressful stage for both children and parents. Everyone is dealing with the imminent issues of separation and transition. Everyone has his or her own hopes for particular college outcomes. Parents may feel a lack of control over their child's application process. Students may feel anxiety over the enormity of the process and the vulnerability of being judged. Providing your child with emotional support and showing confidence in their potential will help promote their creativity and productivity!
(b) Assist with administrative tasks: Please upload your student's end-of-year report card, transcript and official test score reports (SAT, ACT, Subject Tests, AP scores) to your child's Dropbox folder.
(c) Arrange logistics of college visits: If you and your child are visiting colleges during the summer or the fall, you can look up the college's schedule for Information Sessions, Tours; find out when the college is in session; confirm whether on-campus interviews are available and required; help schedule visits and interviews in a convenient way. Handling these logistics is extremely time-consuming and your child will appreciate your help!
As always, thanks for your support and for the privilege of working with your child!
Julie Raynor Gross
President & Founder
Collegiate Gateway LLC