Hourly vs. Comprehensive Program

For students on the program, we manage the overall process, whereas with hourly students we act as consultants.

Program Students

All of the application elements–a timeline, the college list, tips for bolstering the application, recommendations and essays–are elements we can cover during hourly appointments, but the aspect of overall project management is what defines the comprehensive program. Program students have 12 hour-long video appointments on a regular basis, scheduled at their convenience. We closely monitor their progress via video meetings and our cloud-based, collaborative project manager to make sure they are on track. Students in our program also receive unlimited 3.5 hour essay writing workshops, also conducted via group video conference, where we work on the structure and foundation of college application essays. Essay workshops are typically held once a month, but are available twice a month in the fall months as application deadlines approach. Essay work includes fine-tuning and editing, which occurs electronically, even when we are not meeting. Program students receive priority scheduling for both regular appointments and essay workshops.

Hourly Students

Students who work with us on an hourly basis are, for the most part, focused and independent. They contact us when they want to meet for fine-tuning and troubleshooting of specific areas, or for guidance with college selection and application advice. At the end of the appointment we let them know exactly what they need to work on and what the next action items are, which often includes making a follow-up appointment. Hourly counseling appointments are tailored to students’ individual needs. All work is done within the confines of the appointment, no additional work is done by the consultants outside of the appointment. If additional essay editing work is required outside of the face-to-face meetings, time spent on essay/research/preparation will be billed in 30-minute increments.

Essay Workshops

College acceptance rates are shrinking and competition is growing. So what makes a student stand out amidst peers with equally hard-won grades and test scores? College admissions representatives repeatedly answer that AUTHENTICITY and a GENUINE DRIVE TO BE YOUR BEST wins out. But how does that come through an electronically submitted application? More than ever, it’s the essays that shoulder the challenge of conveying your unique qualities.

Within this academic climate, anxious students come into the application season with questions like:

  • What IS an essay?
  • What do “they” want to hear?
  • I don’t have any hardship or epiphany to write about-does that mean I’m not going to get in?
  • How many essays do I have to write and how long will it take?
  • How important are the essays? Will really good ones make up for weak grades or test scores?
  • I’ve heard that you’re not supposed to write about sports, travel/service trips, or parents. So what should I write about?
  • Is it more important to sound smart or sound personable? How do I strike the right balance?
  • I’m nervous to press the “submit” button on my application. How do I know my essay is really finished?
  • Does it matter if I have a few typos?
  • My parents keep telling me to work on my essays, but I have no time! How do I do everything at once?
  • Can I get all of my essays done before the fall semester starts?

The College Admissions Essay Workshops offered by us will answer all of these questions and more… Our workshops are not only instructive and informative, but they are highly participatory! The goal is to have a most of the essays written and planned by the time September rolls around! The first hour typically consists of an interactive presentation with an open floor for question/answers. During the 3 1/2 hour workshop, we will facilitate the students in brainstorming collaboratively and creatively, in small groups to craft and write their essays. We will also be available for private questions via messaging, so that every student has the customized guidance necessary to unearth his or her essay gems! Over the course of the 17-18 hours of focused, in-person, writing workshops your student will have their essays ready for submission to the colleges.

Between workshops, the students will keep their essays on in the cloud via Google Docs, where we will continually review them and make sure they are ready for final submission.

Topics Include:

  • Data-Mining Your Life: Discover ideas in the obvious and obscure
  • No More Secrets: Special circumstances = secret weapons
  • Brag, Borrow, & Steal: The absolute deal breakers
  • Modern Storytelling: Turning reality into metaphor
  • Authenticity Rules: Ennobling your unique style and voice
  • Splitting Hairs on Infinitives: Put grammar and punctuation in their place
  • Enough is Enough: Know when to type the Fin
  • Arranging the Gems: Create a sparkling essay collection


There is, generally, one essay workshop each month. Essay workshop frequency increases in the fall as application deadlines approach. A sign-up schedule will be sent to program students. Hourly students are able to join as room permits and will be billed separately for essay workshops.


A schedule sign-up will be sent once the student is signed up for the program. Sign up for one class at a time or for multiple classes: workshops are designed as stand-alone primers or cumulative steps for those aiming to refine work throughout the year. Workshops are included in the Comprehensive Program.


The workshop is open to all students, regardless of age or grade level. However, it is recommended for juniors, rising seniors, and transfer students who are preparing for fall college applications.

Our hourly rate is $250/hour. We offer our comprehensive consulting program for a flat fee, which includes unlimited writing workshops. The comprehensive program can be paid on a 5-month payment plan or in full.

Contact us for more information at info@thecognitiveadvantage.com.