composed | college essay writing support

kate [at]

composed Writing Specialists offer small group workshops and individualized guidance and feedback on written assignments with a focus on college application essays. Our work includes:

  • an introduction to the writing portions of the UC, Common, Coalition and other state school Applications including personal statement(s), supplemental essays and the Additional Information sections
  • review and analysis of  personal statement examples
  • writing activities to more deeply understand and practice the style and approaches to personal statement writing
  • topic generation – brainstorming, narrowing, confirming and outlining for all main essays
  • supplemental essay planning
  • review and detailed comments on writing
  • well-paced deadlines

Our work is tailored for each individual student.

Parent Reviews

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RE: High school essay writing ()

My daughter, and a ton of other families, worked with Nina and Kate at Essays Composed. Nina was a beloved English teacher at a local private school and is talented. They really work with their students to help them find their own voice and teach good writing as well. The program is well structured with a nice time management component as well. Best wishes for a good college process. It worked well for my daughter and now starting with my son. 

I highly recommend Nina Cohen's Composed workshops. My daughter participated in Nina's workshop last year and found it to be not only very helpful, but enjoyable as well. She liked working with Nina so much that she continued to work one-on-one with her on the rest of her college app written pieces. Nina helped bring out the best in her writing and managed to keep what could have been a stressful time much more pleasant. We are so grateful for that and that our daughter has such a rapport with Nina that she has stayed in touch with her from college. We are lucky that our younger daughter will get to work with her next fall!

Nina provided phenomenal guidance to both my nephew and my daughter through the college essay-writing process. She is amazingly responsive, approaches the process in a relaxed manner, maintains a lovely sense of humor, and was generally a bright light in what can be a very stressful process. She's insightful and perceptive about individual students' strengths and stories and really helps kids bring their best to their writing. I hope your child has the opportunity to work with her!

Both my children (now 22 and 19) were fortunate enough to be able to get a spot in Nina Cohen's essay writing workshop when they were applying to college. Nina is a warm and supportive teacher. Both kids loved her. She also is great at what she does. She is a highly skilled writing teacher who was able to help both kids through the rigorous college essay writing process--from how to choose a topic, to what to put in and leave out, to how to find one's own voice, to editing grammar and syntax, just to name a few. (Not sure if that sentence was grammatically correct, but I'm sure Nina could tell me). Both my kids got into great schools--Carnegie Mellon and University of Pennsylvania--and I know that attending Nina's workshops and getting some last minute one-on-one help from her was instrumental in helping both kids present their best selves and writing. I recommend Nina to all my friends whose children are in the grueling college application process.

I can't recommend Nina and Composed highly enough. She worked with our third child who is now a sophomore at Brown. He attended her one-day workshop and then received 1-on-1 coaching/feedback from Nina. In almost no time, Nina established a strong relationship with him. Teens can sense artifice in an instant—Nina has none. My son connected immediately, enjoying her humor, responding to her direction, and taken in by her warmth and personal style. Never once did I sense that Nina was handling my son in a formulaic way, rather she worked to get to know him and helped him use his essays to represent who he is. Not only did his time with Nina result in some impressive pieces of writing, but her coaching helped elevate his writing in general. After working with Nina, he showed new confidence and evidence of having internalized the kinds of feedback that Nina provided. Interestingly, with both of my older children, the college essay writing experience was just something to "get through." Both my husband and I remarked on how this was not the case with our youngest. He tackled the questions about life and self, ambition and school, with grace. In his case, the process served as a moment to be self-reflective, put some stakes in the ground, and think about what he wanted the next phase in his life to hold. As he shared what he had written with us, it prompted a level of discourse that was not typical of our interactions. It served almost like a passage. I have to think that Nina's work with our son, and the supportive context she set up resulted in this difference. 

Both of my kids benefited greatly from working with Nina and Kate at Essays Composed. My daughter took the 1-day workshop to begin working on her personal essay and continued with some extra coaching/feedback sessions as she developed it. My son did the 1-day workshop only. Both of them loved the chance to get an introduction to the process of writing such a highly specific piece, and to brainstorm and begin to craft the essay. College essay writing is both unique and high-stakes! Neither had any idea how to get started or what to write about, and they REALLY did not want to interact with us parents about possible topics! The feedback Nina and Kate give is very clear and helpful, keep the work moving forward, and helps develop a personal "voice." Both kids' finished essays were very different, and very strong. In addition, Nina's emails are invaluable--she finds a way to remind kids (and parents, too) about good writing, staying organized and staying calm all in one lovely package. Finally, I continue to marvel at Nina's way of giving me, the worried, inexperienced parent, useful information and a realistic perspective about the college application process. Our family did not use any other "outside services" in the college application process, but we consider Essays Composed to have been an invaluable help!

My son, now 20 yrs old, continues to talk about Nina as a wonderful person and an excellent writing coach. Nina's approach is perfectly suited to high school teens as they begin to navigate the world of college applications. Together, Nina and the student form a trusting relationship that enables the student to write from their heart. With consistent feedback from Nina, the student is able to craft their personal essay into a application-ready piece in a well-paced manner. I highly recommend Nina Cohen for college essay work as well as high school writing assignments. 

Nina worked with our two daughters back in 2011 and 2014, both with multiple acceptances, getting into the universities they liked (Barnard, UCLA, American University in DC, University of Washington, and multiple other UC's).  The best part of working with Nina from a parent's point of view is that it minimizes the anxiety and angst that otherwise would have been shared between parents and kids.  This is not to be underestimated.  When my daughters were working with Nina, I knew the work was getting done, even though my daughters didn't want to share with me what they'd written on their applications.  The whole process is quite complex with kids often applying to more than 10 different school systems.  There are multiple deadlines and multiple applications to be completed.  Knowing that I had another totally dependable adult helping my kids through this, and keeping them on  track, allowed us to keep a sense of peaceful excitement in our household throughout the process.  Ultimately, I think our kids were quite successful.  I highly recommend working with Nina and her team.

Both my kids worked with Nina for their essay process.  One is a junior at Tufts, the other going to Middlebury this fall.  Nina worked well to bring out the best writings of both teens.  My older child attended the workshop and then did one on one work to get into her college of choice.  Nina was willing to lend an ear during her final admission decision over a cup of tea.   My younger child needed more time to find her comfortable working place with Nina but in the end, she too wrote some strong essays and felt well supported by Nina through the process.  It was overall a good experience for our family as a whole and would strongly recommend use of Essays Composed for your college essay work.