F.A.Q.

01 How are the sessions conducted? Are they over the phone? Or in person?

Our offices are in Manhattan, and those in the greater New York area are welcome to avail themselves of live sessions.  That said, meetings via web conference are equally effective — everything is set up so that we can both see the document and edits in real time as we discuss the essay.

02 Many services offer the entire of suite of college admission advice — school selection, application review, interview prep — do you?

5 Hundred Words focuses solely on what it knows best — writing.  Specifically, how to help someone find their most unique and fascinating personal story and tell it in a way that is so vibrant and visceral that it stays with the reader long after it’s been read. In our opinion, being a strong writer is a very specific skill, not everyone has it. If some people think they can offer meaningful guidance in writing, and also have the experience and talent to advise on all the other elements of the college application process as well (proper university selection, interview preparation, application strategy, etc.) well, they are a very gifted person indeed.

We believe it best to go to a specialist in writing for writing, and seek professionals in other services for other needs.

03  I’m just not a strong writer and not going to be. Can’t I just send in a good bio of my background and you write the essay, instead of tortured hours of work together? I see a ton of services that offer to just write the essay for you.

5 Hundred Words does not write essays for students. Believe us, you don’t want us to. We take seriously that we offer student a chance to tell their story in their voice. Only the student himself can truly articulate who he is, in his own way. Our service is about guiding students through that process, in a productive and efficient way.  Plus, as more and more businesses do begin to offer services such as those identified, schools have become more wary of how much of the essay is the student’s own work. See this informative article here.

We do, however, write for internet television series, book agents and major film studios. So, let us help you get into college. Then graduate, and remember us when you get out.

04 Why do you call your services ‘5 Hundred Words’? The Common Application Essay now has a 650 word max.

Ah, the 500 word max. Yes, 650 is the new 500. Until 2012, the word limit on the Common Application was 500 words. And, there’s still a fair number of essay contests, scholarship applications, and school specific essays that still limit to 500 words. And the truth is, we still believe that anyone could tell their story in 500 words, if they needed to (and maybe ought to tell their story in 500 words, because that last 150 words is just a lot of extra sentences that don’t really add much — brevity and wit and all that). Also, 6 Hundred Fifty Words Dot Com just didn’t roll off the tongue that well and our marketing people convinced us that explaining ourselves in a FAQ was the better way to go.  Plus, what if next year the Common App people change the max to 750 words? We’re not redoing this whole site over. 500 words — that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

05 What if I don’t feel satisfied with the progress we’ve made by the end of our time together? 

Then you are SOL. Take care.

We’re a business. But we’re humans first. And we were once teen-aged sized humans who lost our minds for about eight months panicked that the world would end if we didn’t get into all of our safety schools, three of our likely schools and one of our stretch schools.

If at the end of your sessions you’re feeling less than thrilled with your essay, we are going to keep working with you. How could we not? It’s not just bad business, it’s mean. We’re not mean. And we don’t dare put that out to the universe to revisit us later (it’s not all about you). Besides, if we treat you badly at noon, it’ll be on Tumblr by sundown. Ok, no joking, no B.S., here it is: applying to college is a serious, exhausting, incredibly stressful time. We try to make it a bit more fun, slightly less nervewracking and approach it with more irreverence than some. But we never lose sight of the big picture — people are entrusting us with a critical part of a major life event. It’s an honor and a privilege to be chosen, and will make every effort possible to overdeliver. And if that means spending more time with you, that’s the least we can do to make the journey a little easier.