A photo of Susie, a tutor from Northwestern University

Susie

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My love of teaching comes from a lifelong love of learning. As a summa cum laude graduate of Northwestern University, and a journalist with articles published in The Atlantic, Popular Science and the San Francisco Examiner before my 21st birthday, I have experienced professional success at an early age and am committed to helping other students reach their full potential in the same way I did: by tapping into their natural intellectual curiosity and drive to make the college application process a rewarding journey of self-discovery.

I specialize in college prep, particularly in essay-writing and SAT prep. I have written for publications all over the United States and in South Africa, and been commissioned to write plays or a major Chicago theatre. I love teaching as much as doing, and have edited the work of writers from ages 4 to 40, worked at theatre and storytelling summer camps and taught playwriting at the college level.

As one of the top 1% of scorers in the country on the SAT, PSAT and AP tests, I firmly believe that high test scores come from regular practice, and an understanding of the test's formula. As an SAT tutor, I will administer monthly practice SAT tests and help your child raise her score by methodically working through the kinds of questions and tricks that regularly appear on the test.

Writing a good college essay is a blend of art and formula. Once you master the formula, you can express yourself in an authentic manner while also appealing to college admissions officials. I aim to teach your child the formula so that there is no barrier between her natural strengths as an applicant and the admissions official looking over her essay.

I hold myself to a high standard. For that reason, I will often ask for feedback, and I would never bill for a lesson in which the student or parent isn’t satisfied with my tutoring.

I am available to work evenings from 6 pm onward, and weekends all day. I’m available to work all months of the year, and I am happy to travel to your home, or can set up appointments at a café, library or other public space.

Bottom line: Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than helping bright people communicate the best parts of themselves through writing, and through learning the tricks of the SAT trade. I’m happy to figure out effective strategies for your child that will maximize her potential without making her feel like a Common App-submitting machine. I look forward to hearing from you!

Susie’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Northwestern University - Bachelors, Journalism

Test Scores

SAT Composite: 2310

SAT Math: 710

SAT Verbal: 800

SAT Writing: 800

Hobbies

singing, guitar, backpacking, theatre

Tutoring Subjects


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I firmly believe that high test scores come from regular practice, and an understanding of the test's formula. As an SAT tutor, I will administer monthly practice SAT tests, and help your child raise her score, by methodically working through the kinds of questions and tricks that regularly appear on the test. Writing a good college essay is a blend of art and formula. Once you master the formula, you can express yourself in an authentic manner while also appealing to college admissions officials. I aim to teach your child the formula, so that there is no barrier between her natural strengths as an applicant and the admissions official looking over her essay. I hold myself to a high standard. For that reason, I will often ask for feedback, and I would never bill for a lesson in which the student or parent isn't satisfied with my tutoring.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

I would sit down with the student and his/her parents, and figure out the goals they have for our time together. Then I'd sit down with the student and draft out a week-by-week lesson plan, along with weekly short assignments, tests and end-of-class rewards. I'd also work with the student to establish concrete goals, whether those are numerical (higher scores) or efficiency-based (getting this number of essays done this week).

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I firmly believe that every human being is a student of something, be that Proust, music, basketball or mac n cheese. By tapping into what makes my students 'tick,' I will enable them to apply their natural curiosity to academic and learning outcomes, so that they can see how those settings will benefit them in whatever path they choose.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

By offering concrete rewards for hard work, improvement and good attitude; by demonstrating how a student's hard work has led to improvement, and taking time to celebrate and relax in between rigorous sessions of study.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

I would tell them to be patient with themselves - school is hard! But I'd emphasize the power and satisfaction that comes with mastering something difficult, and the universal applicability of doing something hard. If you can get good at something you're bad at, imagine how easy accomplishing within your strength areas will feel by comparison!

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

I usually have them recite a paragraph of the text aloud. After that, we work together to paraphrase the paragraph's meaning, and in the process, elevate our understanding of the words to a broader comprehension of how the paragraph fits into the book, and the world as a whole.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

When starting with a student, I always take the first session to listen to the student's personal goals for his/her sessions. While I push my students to work as hard as they can, I make sure both of us are realistic about our sessions together. If a student is unwilling or unable to put in 8 hours a week in the month leading up to a test, then we will make two hours count for as much as possible. I also front-load the difficult material in a session, so that the student can put their energy into the hardest material, and so our session ends on a high note.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I would tailor the subject to fit the student's style of learning. So, if they're struggling with reading comprehension, I'd offer the student a passage about a topic they're passionate in. If it's math they're struggling with, I'd work on finding a math problem that will help them in their daily lives.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

Asking specific, pointed questions that didn't appear on the practice test. Repetition really is key to determining whether a student has gotten an answer right by chance or a deep understanding of the material.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

It depends on the student. For less confident students, I'd offer loads of encouragement and set up realistic goals for the student to meet. For more confident students that want to further excel at something they're already good at, I'd set very high goals and offer 'tough love' in the form of increased expectations and more sparing encouragement -- the student knows he/she has truly succeeded if she/he gets praised.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I evaluate a student's needs by speaking with the parents candidly and one-on-one about their child's prior performance, goals, and expectations. I'd then speak with the student one on one, and I'd talk with them all together as well. After those three discussions, I'd have a better picture of what concrete goals to set for the student in initial sessions.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

I vary my tutoring depending on the student's sensitivity, ability, and willingness to work. If a student is a 'tough love' learner, I will meet him/her with strict and unyielding demands. If a student responds better to kindness and encouragement, I will offer him/her lots of incentives. And my feedback will be gentler, if no less rigorous.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

I use the test prep books, as well as several practice tests and materials I've developed.