Everyone has a story ...
… yet figuring out how to tell your unique, personal story can be daunting. As writing coaches who work with clients across the country and around the world, we help students in high school and beyond to write about themselves. Many of our clients are students applying to college. We 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 our clients receive the acceptances they desire, but it's even more rewarding to watch them evolve through our work together.
Our practice is intentionally small. We work closely with a limited number of students each year so that we can truly get to know each student. We are coaches (rather than editors) who facilitate one-on-one, inquiry-based conversations that enable our students to better understand and articulate their experiences and goals.
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 our work lies in starting conversations that guide the student toward greater self-awareness and thus, deeper and more meaningful essays.
We 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. We work with high school and transfer students so they can:
*develop a realistic timeline for completing work & minimizing stress
*brainstorm effective topics
*identify specific, meaningful experiences while avoiding college essay clichés
*organize ideas for the strongest structure
*sharpen wording and grammar
*edit with a critical eye
*proofread final work before submission
Even the most diligent students tell us 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, our goal is to make it an empowering experience as students gain self-awareness and find their narrative voice. It is thrilling for us to watch our clients grow through this process.
We also work with high school underclassmen who are applying to summer programs and/or 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. We 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, Tina provides one-on-one customized coaching for counselors who want to improve their essay coaching skills. Just like she does with students, her colleague coaching is a combination of conversations and written notes. Her 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.
She also conducts group trainings and in 2019, Tina designed some resources and led trainings for a large college counseling firm in Chicago.
We start with putting some structure around the process. By providing a suggested timeline at the beginning of our work together, we show clients how they can break down the bigger project into smaller, more manageable pieces. We emphasize working well ahead of application deadlines so there's plenty of time for careful reflection, thorough work and a significant time cushion for any unexpected events that might arise. The idea is to lower the intensity of the experience. This leads to stronger, polished essays and calm families. Believe it or not, clients even tell us they had fun!
This good rapport comes from the fact that we really get to know our clients by meeting with them on a regular basis. Before each meeting they complete homework (brainstorming exercises &/or essay drafts), which we discuss when we meet. During our meetings, the student and coach hash out ideas and discuss content. We offer direct suggestions, but we also ask the student a lot of questions in order to guide them to deeper and more insightful writing. Our written feedback includes both substantive notes and line edits on grammar, flow, etc., but we don’t do a “heavy edit” of their work (nor should anyone else). A client's work should be a genuine demonstration of their abilities and unique narrative voice.
Our underlying philosophy rests in guiding the student toward greater self-awareness through the essay process. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to reflect on their lives in ways they usually haven’t before. At the end of each meeting, we agree on a set of realistic next steps.
Since 2013, I’ve worked closely with more than 200 students, guiding them through well over 2,000 college essays. 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, 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.
As a former middle and high school English teacher, I have worked with hundreds of students on developing and strengthening their writing skills. I love watching my students navigate the writing process as they move from brainstorming, to editing, to drafting - ultimately landing on a final product of which they can be proud.
Following my graduation from Lehigh University, with a dual major in English and Political Science, I worked in Sales for several companies in different parts of the country and it was through these experiences that I built the foundation necessary to becoming an effective educator. Ultimately knowing my destiny lay in teaching, I moved to Annapolis, Maryland, when an opportunity to become a high school English teacher arose. I was motivated to find inventive ways to engage my students and I thrived on being able to share with them my love of literature and the writing process.
After several years of classroom teaching, I earned a Masters in the Teaching of English from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Since 2009, my family has been on the move - literally - “across the pond” to London, England (where our son was born), back stateside to NYC again, to Connecticut (where our daughter was born), and most recently relocating to Chicago, Illinois. In spite of all my family’s travel, I kept returning to the field of education, which provides a home for me wherever I go.
I am currently earning my Certificate in College Counseling from the University of California San Diego and am a provisional member of the Higher Education Consultants Association. I am honored and beyond excited to join Tina in working with students and professionals to meet their various writing needs.
"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
We work with clients across the country and around the world from our home bases in the Bay Area and Chicago. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in our 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.