In the summer of 2009, a friend told me her daughter Annie was having a hard time finding topics for her college essays and asked me to help.  Annie and I sat in my backyard and she filled me in on swim team, babysitting, and her dad’s cancer.  By talking through all this, we identified a few stories that  felt central to her personality and demonstrated how she operates in her world.

We then adapted these stories to the essay questions and jotted down the key points to hit on in each essay.   Annie then got busy and got it all done.  (She graduated from Kenyon College with a BA in English).


Working with Annie, I realized I was good at coaxing students to recognize the merit of  their experiences, and that their stories could humanize and strengthen their college applications.


That September, I volunteered at our local high school and went into private practice.


I have since worked with hundreds of students on application essays for college, graduate school, medical school and post-doctoral programs. 

In 2015, our school district recognized me  with the Volunteer of the Year Award for my free summer workshops and lunch period appointments.  Currently, I volunteer with C5-Los Angeles and United World Colleges/East Africa


Grew up on Long Island. Still trying to get rid of the accent.  Went to Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY where I majored in theatre and English. Worked  in publishing in NYC for 9 years. 


Left publishing to write a book – What You Can Do for Your Country: An Oral History of the Peace Corps.  Also wrote for The Wall Street Journal,  Washington Post, NPR and Grown &


Moved to Alexandria, VA with spouse.  Raised  2 kids (lots of Little League, softball, voice, drum, ballet & guitar lessons, school plays, emergency room visits, and college essays).


Our son teaches middle school in Vermont. Our daughter works at an art gallery in Los Angeles. 


Spouse got cool job in LA so we moved here in February, 2019. I read class of '20  essays at hipster coffee bars, I love it that I was the only one wearing Land’s End.  I hope the coffee bars reopen soon.

Please get in touch and let's get started now.

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Thanks to Anna Paez, University of Pennsylvania, '19, for working at my picnic table.

Web design & photo credit: Anna-Elyse Schwabacher