Everyone has a story ...
… yet figuring out how to tell your unique, personal story can be trickier than it may seem, especially in high pressure situations. As a writing coach who works with clients across the country and around the world, I help students in high school and beyond to write about themselves. Many of my clients are students applying to college. I also work with high school underclassmen as well as graduate school candidates, applicants for fellowships and scholarships, and counselor colleagues looking to sharpen their own essay coaching skills. It's great to see my clients receive the acceptances they desire, but it's even more rewarding to watch them evolve through our work together.
College Essay Coaching
College essays require reflective thinking and a direct, declarative writing style. In addition to providing general advice about how to approach these essays, a lot of my work lies in starting conversations that guide the student toward greater self-awareness and thus, deeper and more meaningful essays.
I offer students a structured process and constructive feedback, so they are able to craft strong personal statements and supplemental essays as well as honors program and scholarship applications. I work with high school and transfer students on:
*developing a realistic timeline for completing work & minimizing stress
*brainstorming effective topics
*identifying more promising ideas while avoiding college essay clichés
*organizing ideas for the strongest structure
*sharpening wording and grammar
*editing with a critical eye
*proofreading final work before submission
Even the most diligent students tell me how much they value a bit of external structure and accountability. And even the strongest writers appreciate a fresh, objective perspective. In fact, regardless of their skill level, clients often find that the coaching they receive on their application essays also strengthens their other writing.
Although applying to college can be stressful, it can also be a very empowering experience as students gain self-awareness and find their narrative voice. It is thrilling for me to watch my clients grow through this process.
I also work with underclassmen who are:
preparing for the SAT or ACT essay
applying to summer programs
looking to practice their narrative writing skills
Graduate School and Fellowship/Scholarship Applicants
The graduate school personal statement synthesizes the different types of essays students write for their undergraduate applications. Graduate school essays should demonstrate a refined focus in one’s area of study. I help grad school candidates tap into the skills they honed in their undergraduate applications to reflect a more advanced level of engagement with their studies and the greater world.
In addition to working with students, I provide one-on-one customized coaching for counselors who want to improve their essay coaching skills. Just like I do with students, my colleague coaching is a combination of conversations (via video or regular call) and written notes. My one-on-one coaching helps counselors help their students by responding to each individual’s unique questions and needs. Some examples of what this looks like include:
Discussing a specific prompt and how to help a student approach it.
Talking through a student’s working draft and determining the most effective way to guide them to a stronger version.
“Diagnosing” essays from previous seasons and discussing how certain challenges could have been addressed.
Strategizing productive time management -- for students and their counselor.
Determining roles, boundaries and how to keep everyone happy during the process.
I also conduct group trainings and in 2019, I designed some resources and led trainings for a large college counseling firm in Chicago.
Below is a description of how I work with college applicants. The process is virtually the same for any client or project.
I work with clients through a combination of meetings (in person, Skype, or phone) and written feedback. The meetings are geared around brainstorming, discussing content, and time management. Written feedback tends to be most helpful once the client has some ideas squared away. I stay in regular communication with my clients during their application process. This ensures they're receiving effective essay coaching and I'm able to anticipate my workload.
While my coaching is customized to each client, there are a few basic parameters. The first is that the student will be responsible for homework before each meeting; this is usually a draft but might also be brainstorming notes or research on their prospective colleges. At the end of each meeting, we agree on realistic next steps.
Time management is a vital component of the college application process and I provide a suggested timeline at the beginning of our work together. Students who follow my suggestions find that the structure enables them to complete their work well ahead of the application deadlines. This leads to stronger, polished essays and calm families.
Since 2013, I’ve coached more than 200 students through well over 2,000 college essays (thanks to the many supplemental questions these days). My clients have received acceptances and generous scholarship offers at a wide range of colleges and universities. My introduction to the college admissions world began by partnering with several established independent counselors and I was fortunate enough to be mentored by two experienced UC Berkeley admissions readers. Prior to my time as a writing coach, I worked in the non-profit sector for 15 years, primarily in a communications capacity.
My own writing experience includes business writing, personal essays and I'm the author of a novel. In addition to my degree in English from Kenyon College, I’ve completed coursework in copyediting at the University of Chicago and taken classes in UC Berkeley's College Admissions & Career Planning Program.
I am a member of the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), a professional organization of independent college consultants; I serve as an application reader for the Maisin Scholar Award; and I also lead workshops and trainings for students, counselors and aspiring essay coaches.
I love getting to know my clients and having a chance to share in what are often major life passages. It's an honor to immerse myself in their words, unravel their stories, find meaning, learn new things and cheer enthusiastically from the sidelines. When I’m not cheering enthusiastically, I like to consume a large quantity of books and delicious Bay Area food. Sometimes I take hikes with my husband and dog or go to a barre class. Despite my appreciation for the wonders of California, I'm a Midwesterner at heart, having grown up in the Chicago area.
"Letters of Recommendation"
"Tina Boyer not only helped me get into the school of my dreams - The Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley- but she also helped me develop as a person throughout the process. With her, it's not just about editing, it's about telling a greater story about yourself. Through that process, I learned what I want to emulate in my life, as well as how my story comes across to others. Thanks to Tina, I not only got into the program of my dreams, but got to start developing into the person of my dreams."
B.D., UC Berkeley Haas School of Business
“Tina was extremely professional and easy to work with. I would like to highly recommend her.
The entire college process was overwhelming to my husband and me especially with two boys applying to multiple schools. Tina worked with the boys individually over Skype. She kept them on track and moved them along efficiently. They finished their essays in a timely manner and applied to all of their schools well before the Early Action deadline. This was a big task.
The boys applied to multiple schools that had many different requirements. She also kept in touch with our educational consultant on their progress. I have to say that the boys have been accepted to many of the schools they applied to so far. We are waiting for a few more to come in. Some of the schools commented on how interesting their essays were as well.
The entire experience was easy and impressive as Tina had the boys working on their essays, on their own, over the summer/fall (without parental involvement). She motivated them to take ownership and complete their high quality essays in a timely manner.”
B.K., parent of Case Western and Miami of Ohio students
“I have read his personal statement and was amazed … and not just because he is my son. The writing was some of the best he has done.”
L.B., parent of Stanford student
"Thank you so much for all your help and support. A lot of my friends with similar stats as me didn't make it to some of the same schools, which I believe goes to show the significance of essays. If it weren't for you, my essays wouldn't have been as developed and refined as they were.”
“Thank you so much for everything you did for me this year. Without you I wouldn’t have gotten into my dream school … I don’t know how I can thank you enough for keeping me on track, motivated, and not too stressed at the same time.”
E.D., Washington University in St. Louis
“I worked with Tina as a high school senior and knew from our first meeting that she was not only extraordinary within her field of creative writing but she was also a wonderful person to depend on throughout the college application process, which can be very stressful at times. I enjoyed working with her so much that I returned to work with her again on my transfer apps, after I had outgrown the resources available at my small liberal arts college. Tina helped me convey my needs, my talents and my experience in an effortless and organized manner. I couldn’t be more proud of the work I accomplished with Tina, and it’s all because she continuously pushed me to write better and to consider different ways of communicating the same message.
I’m even more proud of what I got out of it: the opportunity to self-reflect on my interests and aspirations. As a Finance major with my own startup that helps women in Turkey who have lost their jobs due to political conflict, this process with Tina made me realize that I’m also passionate about behavioral economics - I now have plans to pursue undergraduate research within that very field. Thanks to Tina I was able to put my best foot forward and will continue to do so, knowing that I have had a mentor like her along the way.”
E.O., American University
Additional parent testimonies are available on Berkeley Parents Network
I’m based in Berkeley, CA and work with local clients as well as those across the country and around the world. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in my services or would like additional information.
For High School Underclassmen:
The National Association for College Admission Counseling is providing an online tool as a central resource for information about changes in college admission events, deposit dates, and more as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The chart includes updates from colleges and universities worldwide. This tool updates in real time as NACAC receives input from postsecondary institutions.