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For the same reason you go to a doctor for medical problems, a lawyer for legal help, an accountant for tax prep, a contractor for home improvement. When something matters to you—when, for one reason or another, you can’t afford to screw up—you ask a professional in the appropriate field for guidance. That’s why they’re professionals: they’re very good at what they do.

The short answer is that good editing makes writing better. When you’ve got a lot on the line, an editor can help you to improve the writing projects that matter to you.

That’s a good question with many possible answers. Among them:

  • Because, in the words of renowned novelist James Joyce, “Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives.”
  • Because, as Harvard linguist Steven Pinker described in The Wall Street Journal, it is incredibly easy to misjudge the needs of your audience—and the more you know, the easier it is to do.
  • Because, even if you properly assess the needs of your audience, writer’s block is real.
  • Because the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style is 1,146 pages long—and seriously, who has the time to read all of that?
  • Because the stakes are high:
    • Getting into college and graduate or professional school depends on well-written applications.
    • Getting a job depends on well-written resumes and cover letters.
    • Keeping a job (or growing a business) depends on well-written marketing and sales copy, press releases, and more.

I honestly believe North Star offers the best editing service that money can buy. Here are just a few of the many reasons why:

  • I have over 13 years of professional experience in various writing and editing roles. You can read about that experience on the About page and on my LinkedIn profile—and then you can benefit from that experience yourself.
  • I spent seven years working for the world’s premier application editing service before leaving to launch North Star when I realized that editing alone was not enough. For the last five years of my tenure at the big-name service you probably know, I was featured on the “Top Editors” page, advertising me directly to potential clients because of my hundreds of “excellent” ratings. Which is to say, even the competition doesn’t think there’s anyone better.
  • Not only do I have an Ivy League pedigree, but I also spent time working in an Ivy League admissions office. I know what it takes to get into top schools, and I can help you to do the same.
  • I hold a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. I have edited three published books. I've also been published myself. I'm therefore intimately familiar with excellent writing.
  • I have won teaching awards for excellence in composition, creative writing, technical and professional writing, and literature. I now serve on the English faculty at a U.S. News & World Report-designated top-tier university. That means I not only know a lot about writing, but I also know how to explain it to you—I will not only help you improve this particular piece of writing, but also make you a better writer in the process.
  • I explicitly designed North Star to draw on all of my diverse skills and experience, creating a service that differs in important ways from comparable services at competitor sites so as to improve both process and product for you, the customer. Read more about those differences on our Services page.
  • At North Star, you’ll deal with one person the whole time. There won’t be any rerouting of calls and emails or wrangling with different departments. You’ll work with me from start to finish, and there won’t ever be any question about who will answer when you need something.
  • At North Star, I guarantee my work: should you find even a single grammatical error, then I’ll give you your money back. It hasn’t happened yet, but the fact of the guarantee should tell you how much I believe in my work.
  • At North Star, I believe I'm the best, but you don’t have to take my word for it: read my Testimonials to see what past clients have to say. (And keep in mind that while competitor services show you the best reviews that any editor has gotten, at North Star you’re only reading reviews of your editor: me. You'll always get the best I have to offer.)

Consider these figures from 2017:

2017 Undergraduate Admissions Rates

Competition for Ivy League spots is so fierce that Harvard, Yale, and Stanford could each rescind their offers of admission to every student they have already accepted, choose another freshman class of the same size, and suffer no statistical drop-off. In fact, they could probably do that several times over. Even outside of the Ivy League, high-school valedictorians with perfect SAT scores, glowing letters of recommendation, and lists of extracurricular activities a mile long cannot count on guaranteed admission.

Applicants to graduate and professional school sometimes face even longer odds. Consider these figures, also from 2017:

2017 Graduate Admissions Rates

Perhaps most dauntingly, because of funding constraints, many Ph.D. programs accept only a handful of students each year.

With ever-higher competition in higher education, how can you stand out?

The answer is your essay. In an increasingly impersonal process, your essay may well be your best, last, and only chance to distinguish yourself from the crowd. In short, your essay can make or break your entire application. And that’s a lot of pressure.

That’s why so many applicants turn to editors for help.

Many applicants put off writing their essays until the last possible minute simply because they don’t know what to write. They spend hours agonizing over a blank screen, a blinking cursor, but they don’t even know how to get started. Others have too many ideas but don’t know how to choose between them. Both types of applicants need not just editing, but guidance.

At North Star, I’ve read thousands of personal statements and statements of purpose. I’ve helped clients applying to two- and four-year colleges, master’s and doctoral programs, medical school and dental school and vet school and business school and law school, clerkships and internships and medical residencies and fellowships, and any other type of school or training program you can think of. I’ve seen it all. And so I can offer you the benefit of that experience: yes, you should say this. No, you shouldn’t say that. Everyone says this. No one says that. This will make you stand out for the right reasons. That will make you stand out for the wrong ones.

Just as explorers have for centuries looked to the North Star for direction, so too do I offer stellar guidance.

No. But I’ll help you find the words you didn’t know you had in you—and your essays will be better for it.

You see, the very best application essays stand out because they give a sense of the person behind the paper. They’re candid. They’re honest. They’re true. And in a process marked by trumped-up claims of excellence, that’s refreshing.

North Star will help you every step of the way, but I don’t, can’t, won’t write a personal statement for you. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. The best I could offer would be a very well-written impersonal statement—and that won’t do you any good at all. It won’t resonate with your activities and your recommendations in a way that makes your application come alive. For all its rhetorical fireworks, its sound and its fury, it will signify nothing and still fall flat.

By working with you instead of for you, I will help you to produce a polished essay that is truly personal, a piece that is distinctly yours. And after working with me, you'll take away more than just a well-edited essay. You'll also take away newfound insight into the writing process because you'll have participated in it every step of the way. Your essay—and you—will be the better for it.

Editors are like photographers. Why pay more for one cameraman over another? Because a good photographer can make a plain face look like a supermodel and a bad one can make a supermodel look plain.

My job is to put you in the best light and find your most flattering angles. That’s how you look your best for the admissions committee when they start sorting applications.

Among professional editors, what separates the best from the rest is the ability to help you find your own voice so that you can speak for yourself. Good editors should seek, as much as possible, to fade into the background so that you can take center stage.

In contrast, bad editors—even those with the best of intentions—often end up doing something like this. Don’t let a meme happen to you.

Sloppy, careless mistakes can torpedo an otherwise promising candidate. Submitting an application with even a single typo is like showing up for an interview with a stain on your shirt. That may sound petty, but careful attention to grammar shows not only that you’ve mastered the mechanics of the English registers necessary to succeed in college, graduate school, or professional school, but also that you cared enough about your application to proofread closely.

Or maybe even to enlist a bit of help in doing so.

Sure. Sign up for my mailing list to receive offers and updates. You can also sign up for the 5-5-5 Resume Challenge totally free of charge.

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