Crafting Your College Application 2018 is now full!

For Rising Seniors

Thanks for your interest. Look for more Crafting Your College Application Camps in 2019.


Our College Application Camp is Different

With our instructors you’ll learn about turning your unique high school experience into a clear and memorable application that speaks to the reader. We teaching essay writing, of course. Then we go deeper, into marketing techniques and the specific concerns and demographics of college admissions officers. Lively discussions on values and finding your individual message are a part of every class, as you work toward both originality and clarity in every part of your application.

You will write your college application with thoughtful peers who love both school and life. Some of our students have worked with us throughout high school using our coaching to find academic excellence and the energy to deeply pursue individual interests – whether artistic, intellectual, scientific or athletic. Other students we are delighted to meet at the camp. Either way,  you will feel welcomed in our small, personal setting and will leave with a completed college application before senior year has even begun.

Our Philosophy at Lives Under Construction

Educational and college consulting for the intelligent, curious, and adventurous. What does that mean? My mission is to help students build their capabilities in a way that makes life feel like a spirited adventure. “Spirited adventure?” you say, “But I don’t even know what I want to study in college!” That may be true, but every day of your life you have been making choices about where to apply your energy and attention. A curious examination of what you have done so far often produces lots of ideas about where you might like to go next.

Why Choose an Independent Educational Consultant?

Education is an enormous investment. Therefore, you want to make your educational experiences as effective as possible. Good advice can prevent frustration and wasting time. With my help, you will learn and move ahead.

I help students notice the unique and intriguing parts of their experiences. Starting from these strengths we define possibilities for future success by expanding on existing skills. My counseling can help you go from hazy dreams to specific steps that you can take to build confidence in your chosen path.

See the tabs below for age appropriate classes, or contact me for assistance in your individual situation.



Let your senior year be relaxed by finishing your college application in August at my camp, Crafting Your College Application! Face the college application process confident and in-control. You will learn to understand your college admissions audience, to write essays that show your most appealing qualities, and to interview with poise.

After writing the main part of their college applications at the Crafting Your College Application summer camp, students applying to elite universities often find private counseling to be the most efficient way to write the many required supplemental essays.  I, and my associate Paul Rivas, will help you focus your message to colleges so the admissions committee clearly understands your strengths through your fresh, original, and personal essays.


In the fall, Paul and I may work with individual students who have attended the summer camps in two sessions.

The first session, from early September until mid-October, ensures the timely submission of Rolling Admission, Early Action, and Early Decision applications. This first session is six-weeks long and costs $1495. It includes email and phone support as well as a scheduled weekly one hour virtual lesson. During this lesson we will share documents and analyse your message to colleges. We will edit together while communicating via telephone and/or Skype. After this intensive, personal session we will give you homework to carry you through the week, confidently making progress on your application in a measured way.

The second four-week session, which costs $995,  from early November until mid-December, is geared toward submitting Regular Decision applications due January 1st before the winter break starts. I don’t work during the holidays, and I want to make sure the students I work with don’t have to, either.

For those students applying to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Paul Rivas and I offer a group Thomas Jefferson High School Essay Writing Application Class, which also includes individual consultations on both content and writing style.

I also assist families with students as young as twelve who are avid learners and want help with designing a personalized advanced curriculum that is right for their individual situation.

We teach Introduction to Acing High School School for 9th and 10th Grades, and College Strategies for Juniors during the school year. These classes meet once a month for two hours with personalized support available by email throughout the year. During spring break we teach a College Research Workshop (a 14 hour class), and Writing the School Counselor Packet (a 10 hour class)for 9th to 11th graders.

  • In Introduction to Acing High School for 9th and 10th Grades,  we develop skills for achieving  academic excellence.  The first five of eight monthly meetings focus on organizing, planning for efficiency, the cognitive science behind faster learning, and school specific situations. Students discuss their specific challenges and get help understanding how to apply the ideas to their own lives.   The coaching continues in the spring as the group spends three meetings with highly successful seniors and gets to interview them about their high school lives. We focus on understanding the seniors’ extracurricular successes. Then we use these stories as a template for developing the younger students’ unique plans for where to direct their academic and extracurricular efforts and how to find opportunities to hone specialized skills. Click the green button to register and pay for Introduction to Acing High School for 9th and 10th Grades.
  • Individual Coaching Students rapidly see that planning productive summers leads to interesting and impressive opportunities. However, students in early high school often need help identifying and applying for summer jobs, internships, and specialized camps as early as January. For an hourly fee parents may schedule individual meetings for us to assist students in finding the summer opportunity that fits them.
  • Our Spring Break College Research Workshop during spring break is for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. It may be repeated. At this camp, students conduct guided, in-depth research on the colleges that goes beyond the marketing veneer presented on college tours. Students develop a targeted list of colleges to research and maybe visit. They also benefit exponentially from listening to one another’s discoveries!

Note: Spring Break College Research Workshop will not be offered in Spring 2018

  • College Coaching for Juniors,  which meets eight times once a month for two hours, is for students who desire a strong finish for their high school career. They learn about leadership skills and strategic planning. We practice soft skills such as interviewing and presentation techniques. Geared for students who are preparing to work with me on college applications, this class focuses on the finishing touches — excellent recommendations, leadership experiences, and articulating a personal vision — to prepare them for college. As appropriate, we may review with students the principles of planning and organization they need to get good grades in less time. Click the orange button to register and pay for College Coaching for Juniors.


    I provide individual counseling for college students. I have assisted with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) course selection, study skills, applications for internships and out-of-school learning opportunities, graduate school planning and applications, and more! Contact me to discuss how I can work with you.


    Note: For more information about educational consultants visit the Independent Educational Consultants Association website. For 12 questions to ask before hiring an independent education consultant, please click here.


    Comments From Parents

    I participated in the “Mentoring Your Teenager” seminar last summer. You are very knowledgeable and experienced. You know how to help parents to see what their kid’s passion is. You also help parents like to me to see the big picture of my kids’ next phase. This helped me to put all “the puzzles” together. I’m still benefiting from your seminar, thank you!
    – Jennifer Fan

    I can’t thank you enough for the guidance you are giving me as my kids make their way through high school towards the next phase of their lives. I am amazed at how you make the seemingly complex decisions leading up to what happens after high school almost simple and even fun. Before, I often found myself dreading the task of helping my kids find their way to college and beyond. Your advice, optimism, and planning have helped me develop a list of schools to meet my children’s academic and athletic goals. I also find it easier to talk with them about how the decisions they make now can affect the college admissions process. I now find myself enjoying helping my kids get on the path to life after high school. Thank you for sharing your insights and wisdom over the past two years. Keep it coming!!
    – Donna Rye

    Thank you again for all of your help in supporting and guiding Nate on his journey to UVA. Having your guidance in navigating the college application process and even knowing what schools Nate should apply to, really took a load off of our shoulders. Your straightforward advice in picking the schools that would be a good fit for Nate, advising us on what they (the colleges) looked for in prospective students, and showing us how to help motivate and advise Nate, helped clear up what appeared to be a complete muddle to us in the beginning. Nate is extremely happy at UVA, and UVA seems to be the perfect fit for him, which of course delights him as well as his parents!
    – Dave and Terre Simpson, Clifton VA