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Qualifications & Experience

Great Writing = 1% inspiration + 99% perspiration.

I teach a structured method for effective communication with minimal effort. Emphasis is on critical thinking and organizing the outline to prepare for writing. Most students set out to build the house without an architectural blueprint. Perspiration ensues.

I also find that students often lack the materials with which to build. They rush past the important step of brainstorming ideas without reflecting much on what they want to say. I send them back to Home Depot. A big part of what I do is drawing the story out.

From a fellow Stanford alum who was recently scouting for his daughter: "I’m a tad OCD (looked at WAY too many Wyzant profiles) and I can tell you no one has better student reviews than you."

I work almost exclusively online. Thank you, Skype. Thank you, Google Docs. If you don't like Skype, we can meet in person. I live in L.A. and New York, and often visit London and you're welcome to drive, fly, or swim over if you don't mind my goofy yellow Labrador who licks everyone. My sweet spots are:

•College Application Essays, Undergraduate Student and Transfer Student Applications
•Graduate School Essays (Law School, Business School, Medical School, Nursing School)
•Essays for High School, College, and Business School Classes
•Resumes (academic and professional)
•Business Presentations (PowerPoint, etc)
•Public Speaking

I’m a lousy golfer, a hopeless cook, and my singing makes my dog cry. I was born to write. It’s the only thing I’ve done consistently for the past 30 years, as a journalist, screenwriter and on the marketing team at Apple. I learned to teach in college as a writing tutor, but mostly by raising four college-bound children. I learned to make effective presentations by raising substantial capital for new ventures.

I will inspire and coach you to new heights – on the page and at the podium -- without breaking a sweat.

"Eighty percent of our applicants are academically qualified," an admissions officer told a crowded room full of anxious high school students and their equally-anxious parents. I was one of them. That day, a light bulb went on that made this process crystal clear. The purpose of the college essay is to present the applicant as a unique and valuable addition to a campus that gets the pick of the litter. The essay must paint a compelling portrait of the applicant in terms of character, talent, imagination, ambition, background, and empathy.

The same is true for top medical schools, nursing schools, business schools, law schools, and other graduate programs. I've helped students with applications to all of these.

The first and most important step is deciding what to write. Imagine an upside-down pyramid. Lots of ideas at the top. A pristine, concise college application essay at the bottom. First, we brainstorm. Everything is on the table. We talk, I ask a lot of questions, we talk some more. I am the mirror that encourages the student to self-reflect. We're trying to create a picture that looks like it was taken by Annie Leibovitz: Fresh, revealing, surprising, unforgettable.

Midway through, we organize. We get a little more selective about what belongs. Once the outline is roughly in place, the writing begins. Note how late this is in the process. It's not an accident. Now the magic happens and the student's voice brings the application essay to life. Then we edit, we polish, we re-write. Rinse, repeat.

Yield: One extraordinary application essay.

Amherst College
Arizona State, Masters in Global Management
Barnard College
Boston University
Brandeis University
Brown University
Cal Poly Pomona
Columbia University
Columbia University, M.S. Nutrition
Cornell University
Emerson College
Emory University
Florida Tech
Harvard University
Kenyon College
Mount Holyoke College
Northwestern University
Pepperdine University
Pitzer College
Rice University
Stanford University
Tufts University
U.C. Berkeley
U.C. Berkeley, Haas School of Business
UCLA, Anderson School of Management
U.C. San Diego
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
University of Southern California
University of Texas Medical School El Paso
Wesleyan University
Williams College

My essay-writing students fall into two categories. The first group wants to learn the art of writing better essays. They are fun to teach and rare as unicorns. The second group, which seems to multiply like rabbits, has a five-page essay comparing Immanuel Kant to Lady Gaga due yesterday. This is stressful. Somehow, it always gets done. I drink a pot of green tea, return to daily newspaper reporter mode (when I wrote three stories a night) and we become very efficient.

One survey I saw said that our second greatest fear is dying. The first is public speaking. I used to be in that trembling majority. By now, I've made so many successful presentations that I can coach them in my sleep. The process is really the same as above. Brainstorm (figure out what to say); Organize your thoughts (outline); Write/Speak articulately with a unique voice.



Stanford University



Wesleyan University







Alan ’s Rating



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