academic coaching



middle and high school students:

Need help navigating a new learning environment?

Need help deciphering instructions on assignments?

Need help with study skills, organizing, and time management?


Specializing in the following:


reading comprehension, vocabulary, writing, editing

analysis and discussion


for any class that has writing prompts

Graphic Design

design concepts, design thinking, digital tools

high school students:



Need help navigating the websites, processes, lingo, and structures?

Need help figuring out how your passions, interests, skill strengths can be turned into a college major or career?

Need help brainstorming for writing application essays or critique and editing of essays to fit the word count?

You prefer talking to someone one-on-one rather than figuring out the daunting maze of options on your own?

Want advice from an academic insider on how to set yourself apart from all the other applications?


Want advice from someone who is not family who can give you honest information and help you figure out the best version of you?

college students:

Need help with figuring out instructions, assignments, or other study skills in a hybrid or remote learning environment, possibly where your instructor is m.i.a.?

Need assistance with your writing or editing of your assignments?

Need assistance in time management and organizing your projects?


Extremely adept at listening and working with your best skills even if you don't like to write, or read. Many teachers teach the way they were taught and in the creative fields such as writing and design, they may not consider that you have not actually been taught what they think you already know. I can help you figure out their 'tell' and give you specific strategies on how to write within the constraints of each assignment. As a former g.d. professor, I constantly challenged myself to push beyond the teach the way I was taught and developed a coaching strategy that works!




Coach Val has a unique ability to ask the right questions and listen to you in helping guide you on your path. You'll also get motivation and someone in your corner for support.



Eating greens may not be your cup of tea, but deep down you know it's good for you. Coach Val will be honest with what you need for your academic diet to get you moving in the right direction.



You yearn for someone to be in your corner to cheer you on, listen to your challenges, but who provides honest feedback as a sounding board motivating you to constantly improve.

That's Coach Val.

Val talks to Moms, Dads, and new friends about her approach to academic coaching.


1. An ACADEMIC INSIDER. Most teachers teach they way they were taught, but I consciously transformed from professor to coach early in my career after much self-reflection, reading, and researching including teaching conferences to be the best at the craft of teaching as possible. I can help decipher instructions and give you confidence in understanding your own learning style to navigate a challenging academic terrain that may feel out of your control whether that be secondary school or college. I know how the systems function in colleges and universities from how programs and curriculum is structured, to the admissions process. In my more than 20 years as a professor I was active in talking with prospective students and parents as well as engaged in 'recruitment'. I am giving you inside information on how to navigate this process. I can help you understand school type (research vs liberal arts, for example) in what will bring out the best you.

2. A CRITICAL THINKER. I have a unique mindset that balances analytical and creative approaches. I consider myself a lifelong learner and I'm able to help distill information sometimes that seems disparate into a connected pattern. I am able to ask you the right questions to be able to find your best solution - the major that fits you best, the type of school that would suit you best, etc. In writing, I am able to work with you to identify areas of your work that can be improved in a comfortable constructive critique style conversation. Maybe we'll spend a few hours editing your work live in a working document picking apart the meaning of words and phrases to make your writing the best it can be for whatever goal you have.

3. A PUZZLER. Some of my friends call me this and another one refers to me as a Swiss army knife. I love puzzles. I think being able to see patterns and inter-connectedness in figuring out a plan of study and career goals is fun. This also makes me extremely adept at scanning an essay for example and seeing repetition of words or phrases to pay attention to in expanding your vocabulary and grammar. And maybe the most important of all, I am adept at planning, time management, figuring out how to manage deadlines for multiple assignments, and yes even color coding.

4. An ADVOCATE. I have been working with people basically my whole life. I was a day camp counselor in high school and a writing tutor in college. I was a girl scout through silver award and then a leader for 5 years after undergraduate school. I have spent more than two decades working with people in small groups and one-on-one mentorship. My roles as a professor at small schools involved advising and coaching. I developed a portfolio course and assisted students in the bridge between college and career in assessing goals and skills all the way to creating a portfolio. Writing a college application essay is like applying for a job so there are similarities in this approach I will share with you in our sessions. I think about students, their work, and if I have ideas for them I will communicate those. If you are struggling to adapt to a new learning environment, I will be your advocate helping you navigate to achieve your goals, and maybe find joy in the learning process.

5. A Writing (and Design) Coach. I love words. I love to write and spend much time in the editing process of my own writing for various purposes. I won an obscure essay contest in 8th grade that took me many many hours of research, notes on index cards and more than one really late night of typing. I was in Honors English in college where I worked in the writing lab as a tutor. Even though I have an MFA in graphic design and taught graphic design, writing and assisting with writing was a primary aspect of most of my course instruction. I'm also a good editor with a keen eye for detail which is a skill needed in the visual communication field. I can easily spot typos and help you examine your word choice and sentence structures as well as topic analysis. I used to be shocked that my students in my college classes did not know how to write an outline for a research project or had never actually written an extensive research paper at all. Writing is a process. It's important to integrate research and editing into writing rather than last minute rush to submit a document on demand from an instructor. I would love to work with you so that you are confident in the act of writing. The challenge for the college application essays is to fit a very serious answer into a very short word count. It starts when you have figured out your choices for application and could take several conversations and live editing of your essay to get the best solution that will set you apart from other applicants.


embrace your super power!

Discover how your uniqueness can translate into your career path by embracing skills and acknowledging weaknesses.

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includes q/a and discovery conversations in reviewing EDU websites, navigating to types of majors possible, and types of schools that may fit your goals by understanding your interests, skills, and dreams to be able to help you figure out how those combine in a plan of study and careers.



this is where you begin to narrow down your choices based on evaluation of a variety of criteria that suits your needs such as faculty/student ratio, curriculum, overall student environment



providing advice on the application process, examining school acceptance rates and their application requirements. advice on how to tackle the application essay, review and conversation about your topics, and editing assistance via email or a video conference.

plus email or whatsapp support to answer questions, 
share links, and review edits.


Approximately 8 week program



You have already narrowed down your application choices and just need help with the essay component.


up to two more virtual sessions to review and edit your writing
which is managed in a critique interaction to point out various issues and ask probing questions to clarify and synthesize your essay. More than two essays may require additional time.

Approximately 3-4 week program


additional time



Throughout my career I have worked with faculty and people across disciplines. Working in small Universities enabled me to connect at the collegiate and professional level with people from the humanities, social and physical sciences, business, and beyond. I can help you decipher assignments, edit or critique your writing, assist with how to connect the dots - whether it be finding a major that fits your interests to discovering resources for your test-taking goals, among other academic challenges.

I have been advisors to 100s of students who needed assistance in choosing classes and defining their core concentration, minors and sometimes double majors.

In the classroom, I've worked with a variety of students taking my classes as electives or for minor or concentration requirements ranging from construction management, to marketing, to theater or creative writing, and even architecture among others. I understand that we all have a different way of viewing the world and learning styles.

In 2020, I've assisted high schools students interested in engineering and possibly design or creating objects, environmental and political science as well as a student who wasn't sure where to start but through our conversation realized that nursing and possibly forensic nursing which would combine her interests in science, legal systems, and helping people (but not in a hospital:)


I'm adept at critiquing work from visual to written. As a designer, I have the skills to not only see your work aesthetically, but I am trained to look for writing issues such as typographic errors and grammar. I'm adept at asking the type of questions that are key to help distill your ideas into a phrase, sentence or entire essay.

Where will our conversations lead?

Let's get started!

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