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Resources for Professionals Using EssayQuest

This is a page-in-progress. We’ll be adding more resources as we develop them.

Essential Resources

Guidebook
Using EssayQuest in your consulting practice or organization
Creating professional accounts
Create your own account
Creating student accounts
Create accounts for your students, or have them do it for themselves
Blank documents to copy into students' folders
The 9 documents students use in EssayQuest
Next time grid templates
For giving your students assignments
Giving feedback to students
Tools for giving quick, easy, and actionable feedback to students
Student text templates
For texting with your students
Parent email templates
For communicating with parents
Review and feedback guides
Forms and guide to share with students, parents, and anyone reviewing essays

Start your EssayQuest adventure by downloading the PDF guidebook.

We recommend jumping ahead to The  Simple, Conceptual Framework section on page 11 before you start exploring EssayQuest. 

Everyone using EssayQuest—students and professionals—needs their own EssayQuest account. If you do not have an activation code, email support@essayquest.com.

  1. Go to the Create Your Professional Account page 
  2. Create your account using your (or your organization’s) unique activation code

Everyone using EssayQuest—students and professionals—needs their own EssayQuest account. If you do not have your activation code or need to purchase more student licences, email support@essayquest.com.

Option 1 (do it for them)

  1. Go to the Create a Student Account page (ment.rs/stuaccount)
  2. Create an account for each student using your student coupon code and their name and email address

Option 2 (they do it themselves)

  1. Send your students to the Getting Started with College Essays page (ment.rs/gettingstarted)
  2. Give them your personal coupon code
  3. Remind them they they need to use the coupon and should not enter a credit card

Create the shared folder

  1. In Google Drive, create a new folder
  2. Name it with the student’s name followed by college essays (e.g., Bugs Bunny’s college essays)
  3. Within that folder, create a subfolder named Files you’ll need
  4. Share the folder with the student’s email address (it doesn’t have to be a gmail account)

Copy/paste the blank files

  1. Go to the EssayQuest shared folder with templates (ment.rs/9files)
  2. Select all 9 files and copy them using CTRL-C (Windows) or Command-C (Mac)
  3. Paste the files into the student folder using CTRL-V (Windows) or Command-V (Mac)
  4. Select and drag the first two files into the student’s main folder

The files are:

  1. [Student’s] next time (add the student’s name)
  2. Story starters and raw content
  3. Story experiments
  4. Personal intentions
  5. Content options
  6. Storyteller draft
  7. Playing with food experiments
  8. Writer draft
  9. Scratchpad

When you make a copy of the files, Docs adds the words “Copy of” to the filename. You can delete that. But, keep the numbers!

Create a copy of these grids and modify it to work with your program. Those will become your template to use with students as you copy assignments into their Next Time Documents.

Five-session program

Any length program

College Essay Feedback Form Template

This feedback form captures every aspect of what students need to know to improve their essays, following the EssayQuest/Write Like a Pro steps. You’ll give them feedback using language, and following a structure, they’re comfortable with, whether they use EssayQuest or not.

You can use this at any point in the process. Delete questions you don’t need and modify as needed. 

At the end of the form, you’ll find every EssayQuest activity from the Next Time document template. Delete activities the student doesn’t need to do and give any specific guidance in the right-hand column.

You may still need to make specific comments about language, content, etc. in the student’s draft.

Watch the 8-minute walk-through video

Read a completed sample form

 

Webinar

Quick, Easy, and Actionable College Essay Feedback: Less Stress. More Focus. Better Essays!

A one-hour webinar co-hosted with Marco Learning. I led the half-hour version of this at the 2022 NACAC conference in Houston.

 

 

Texting is the easiest way to communicate with teens, and even then they can make you crazy. We found that these simple texts smoothed out our communication with most kids.

Modify these to fit your needs and tone.

Notice that I don’t end texts with a period. Linguistic research suggests that teens and younger adults can read that as expressing unhappiness, anger, or frustration. 

 

The first time you text

Take a couple of minutes to build a strong foundation for your communication.

It could look something like this:

  • Audience: a teen I haven’t met and haven’t texted with
  • Intention: make a gentle, friendly introduction; confirm the cell number; set expectations; schedule the first session
  • Role: your friendly, neighborhood essay mentor

If you haven’t exchanged texts yet and haven’t met the student, this is a slick way to introduce yourself gently.

Hi [STUDENT], this is [BARAK]. Do I have the right #?

 

If they answer and it’s February–April of Junior year:

Great! It's up to you when you really dive into the essays, but I like to meet once around this time of year to give you a good foundation and make a general plan. We'd talk for about an hour, and there's about 45 minutes of things to do before we meet

When are some good days and times? This time of year I meet weekdays and like to be done by around 7pm. In the fall I'll meet nights and weekends

If they answer and it’s May or later:

Great! When would you like to get started?. We'd talk for about an hour, and there's about 45 minutes of things to do before we meet

 

When are some good days and times? This time of year I meet weekdays and like to be done by around 7pm. In the fall I'll meet nights and weekends. School and standardized tests come first, though. This should not get in the way of those

If they don’t answer:

Hi, it’s Barak again. Checking to see if you got my text. I’ll be helping you with your college essays. If I don’t hear back, I’ll check with your [MOM] to make sure I have the right number

Instructions for the first meeting

Version 1

Before we meet, go to ment.rs/gettingstarted and do activities 1 and 2. They'll take about 45 minutes. Our first meeting will be about 90 minutes

You'll need a coupon code—use [YOUR CODE]

You can also jump into activity 3 if you want

Version 2

Before we meet, go to ment.rs/gettingstarted and do all of the activities on that page. They'll take about 90 minutes. Our first meeting will be about 90 minutes

 

You'll need a coupon code—use [YOUR CODE]

 

Reminder texts

The day before a session

Hi. Still on for tomorrow at [TIME]? Will you have done everything in the next time doc by then?

Prescheduled text if I won’t be seeing a student for a while, sent about a week before we’re supposed to meet

Hi. Are we still on for next [DAY] at [TIME]? How’s progress? Will you have done everything in the next time doc by then?

When a student is blowing me off

Please don’t make me call your mother!

We used to spend too much time soothing anxious (concerned, frustrated, angry, freaked out, bewildered) parents. It didn’t matter that their kids were doing just fine and were on track. Parents couldn’t always see it. 

We cut our parent time down by 90% by sending these three emails. Modify these to fit your needs. 

Pay attention to pronouns and verbs! For the template, we use they/them/their. You may want to make versions for he/him/his and she/her/hers. Make sure the verbs all match, though! Run your template through Grammarly to make sure.

Take a minute to build your strong foundation, or use this one if it fits:

  • Audience: a parent with a tendency to become anxious or unrealistic about their teen’s progress, or who may be tempted to get involved in the process
  • Intention: soothe anxious parents; head off parent issues before they start; make parents feel connected; give parents permission to be involved in specific, targeted ways while gently suggesting that maybe they don’t have to be involved at all; encourage them to send referalls
  • Role: your friendly, neighborhood essay mentor
Getting started email

    Subject: [STUDENT] will be starting college essays next week

    Hi,

    [STUDENT] and I will be starting work on college essays at our next meeting. I’ll be guiding them through a structured process—the Write Like a Pro process—that will lead them to their best college essays. We targeted [DATE] to finish the main Common Application essay. I’ll let you know if that changes or they fall behind.

    I want to give you a head’s up that the process is new to most kids. It builds on what they’ve learned in school and goes beyond that. Sometimes, the process and their work can look messy and chaotic. That’s perfectly normal for professional writers and for kids writing their college essays.

    There are a few points in the process where you may be able to give some targeted feedback or support. I’ll leave it to [STUDENT] to ask if they want that from you. Some kids do, some don’t. 

    It’s critical that your input is consistent with the process. Please follow the instruction sheet [STUDENT] will give you. 

    I’ll send updates as [STUDENT] hits key milestones. 

    Let me know any time you have questions or concerns.

    Thank you!

    [YOUR NAME]

    p.s., I have room for a few more students. If you know families that would be interested in having me work with their teens on college essays, I’d be happy to talk with them.

    Finished Storyteller and starting Writer

      Subject: [STUDENT] is moving right along

      [[[PERSONAL NOTE ABOUT THE STUDENT. This can be as simple as John is a blast to work with!]]]

      [STUDENT] is doing great and moving quickly. THEY’VE created a clear, powerful message THEY want to communicate to schools and have chosen the stories and content that will be in THEIR essay. With another hour of work THEY’LL have a poorly-written rough draft about twice the word limit.

      THEY also have all of the tools I share for tone, bringing the essay to life, editing, and wordsmithing. I call this the [BARAK] Gets Eaten by a Bear stage: no matter what happens to me, THEY’VE got the full toolkit and will make it to the end.

      THEY intend to finish by August 14. As long as THEY work at the same pace, THEY she should make that. After that, we'll switch to supplemental essays.

      Let me know if you have any questions or want to touch base. 

      Thank you!

      [YOUR NAME]

      p.s., I’m booked for rising seniors, but if you know families that would be interested in having me work with their teens, I’d be happy to talk with them. I’m sure people will be honored that you thought of them.

       

      Common Application and early applications done/Shifting to supplementals (or UC PIQs)

       

      Subject: What’s next for [STUDENT]

      Hi, 

       

      [STUDENT] did a great job with THEIR Common App and supplemental essays for early schools. THEY went through the Write Like a Pro process from beginning to end and have a new framework and toolkit for writing and communicating. THEY also have finished material that THEY can reuse for many of the remaining supplemental essays.

       

      For the next round of essays, I like to step back and let kids do as much work as they can on their own. I keep a close eye on their progress and encourage them to finish all of their essays before Thanksgiving. If THEY need to apply to schools with January deadlines, the essays will be ready (or will at least be solid drafts).

       

      I've sent THEM instructions for updating the] plan to finish the essays (those are below). We'll meet as needed and when THEY’RE finished with all of the essays, we'll do a final wrap-up meeting.

       

      Let me know if you have any questions.

      Thank you!

      [YOUR NAME]

      p.s., Now that my seniors have applied to early schools, I have room to work with a few more seniors on their college essays. I’m also registering juniors for next year. Feel free to share my information with parents who may be interested in talking with me. Thank you!

       

      –-------

       

      The instructions I sent to [STUDENT] 

      Now that you’ve been through the Write Like a Pro process for the main essay and supplemental essays, I want you to show me what you’re capable of…from now on, you’ll be sending me what you say are finished, perfect essays that are ready to submit. 

       

      Look at this page for instructions and for deadlines to get essays to me. If you have a November 15 deadline (like UW) I need those by the 10th. That’s now a real deadline for you

       

      If you have essays you’re not sure what to do with or want help with your strategy (on Trello) let me know asap and we’ll schedule a meeting. 

       

      And if you have questions about anything or want to meet, let me know.

      [[[Add whatever you send your students. We don’t have a generic version of the linked page, but you can see what we include.]]]

      Common Application and early applications done/Shifting to supplementals (or UC PIQs

        Subject: What’s next for [STUDENT]

        Hi,  

        [STUDENT] did a great job with THEIR Common App and supplemental essays for early schools. THEY went through the Write Like a Pro process from beginning to end and have a new framework and toolkit for writing and communicating. THEY also have finished material that THEY can reuse for many of the remaining supplemental essays.

        For the next round of essays, I like to step back and let kids do as much work as they can on their own. I keep a close eye on their progress and encourage them to finish all of their essays before Thanksgiving. If THEY need to apply to schools with January deadlines, the essays will be ready (or will at least be solid drafts). 

        I've sent THEM instructions for updating the] plan to finish the essays (those are below). We'll meet as needed and when THEY’RE finished with all of the essays, we'll do a final wrap-up meeting.

        Let me know if you have any questions.

        Thank you!

        [YOUR NAME]

        p.s., Now that my seniors have applied to early schools, I have room to work with a few more seniors on their college essays. I’m also registering juniors for next year. Feel free to share my information with parents who may be interested in talking with me. Thank you! 

        –-------

        The instructions I sent to [STUDENT] 

        Now that you’ve been through the Write Like a Pro process for the main essay and supplemental essays, I want you to show me what you’re capable of…from now on, you’ll be sending me what you say are finished, perfect essays that are ready to submit. 

        Look at this page for instructions and for deadlines to get essays to me. If you have a November 15 deadline (like UW) I need those by the 10th. That’s now a real deadline for you

        If you have essays you’re not sure what to do with or want help with your strategy (on Trello) let me know asap and we’ll schedule a meeting. 

        And if you have questions about anything or want to meet, let me know.

        [[[Add whatever you send your students. We don’t have a generic version of the linked page, but you can see what we include.]]]

        How to Read College Essays Like a Pro
        A general one-page handout

        These forms are for students to give to anyone giving them feedback. Do not let students get feedback from anyone without one of these forms! They guarantee that the feedback is appropriate to where they are in the process, and give the reviewer important context for why the work looks so unfinished.

        We’ll be updating the content and branding on these. They still work as they are.

        Thinker Feedback Form

        Storyteller/Writer Feedback Form

        Proofreading Instructions

         

        Video Library

        Get Started Training Webinars
        90–120 minute conversations with professionals using EssayQuest
        Conversations with Students
        Watch Barak guide students through activities
        Other Webinars
        On a variety of college essays topics
        Recorded Student Workshops
        Led by Barak

        Logistics and the Big Picture
        This covered a range of topics, including logistics, Next Time documents, big picture concepts, student management. Plus, lots of Q&A.

        Guiding Students Through Activities (Thinker and Storyteller)

        This includes practice/mock conversations with a “student”; explore the Thinker and Storyteller phases and a short introduction to the Writer phase. Plus, lots of Q&A.
        Q&A/conversations—mostly about Storyteller and some Writer—with Barak and two guides who’ve been using EssayQuest.

        Barak walks students through activities, plus a debrief.

        Foundation

        College Essays 101
        College Essays 102

         

        Writer

        The First Writer Session

        Quick, Easy, and Actionable College Essay Feedback
        Hosted by Marco Learning for teachers (perfect for IECs as well); the longer version of the workshop Barak led at NACAC in Houston 

        Webinar: 7 Secrets for a Great College Essay
        Hosted by Marco Learning; basically College Essays 101 and 102 (Barak has led this scores of times, if not hundreds. You can use this as a model for workshops as well.)

        Spencer’s Essays Live

        Led to a group of rising seniors at Norwalk High School (CT) in 2019, as part of  alonger workshop

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