Some of the lovely things our students and their parents have said.
I am writing this letter in support of Douglas and The Yes Pile the day after my son’s acceptance to five of the top twenty schools (including his top choice) in the U.S. News & World Report national-universities rankings.
My wife and I discovered Douglas during our son's junior year of high school, when we read an article by him in The Huffington Post about the application essays’ importance in the college-admissions process. We have only one child, so this was our first and last chance at this high-stakes game. We had no room for error.
We contacted Douglas the next day and arranged a video call on Skype. I knew immediately that this was the right move at the right time for our son, who was aiming for the stars and beyond. My son and Douglas had a certain easy rapport, even on that first call. We sent our check the very next day, and this investment decision was one of the best of my life. Well worth the cost. Douglas is a very rare breed — a gem. He’s the kind of person you just know can make a difference in your child's life.
Douglas worked tirelessly with our son on his fourteen applications, with some colleges requiring four supplementary essays in addition to the main personal statement. The results of these efforts speak for themselves. When my wife and I read our son’s personal statement, we both burst into tears. Douglas had helped peel away the extensive outer onion skin of a shy seventeen-year-old boy and revealed his inner core.
In the competitive world of today's college-admissions process, Douglas is a game changer. Everyone applying to the top schools has great grades, high-percentile ACT/SAT scores, tons of leadership experience in extracurricular activities and community service, and great letters of recommendation, blah, blah, blah. The ULTIMATE difference comes down to showing the universities, through the personal statement and supplementary essays, your child's inner soul: his strengths, his weaknesses, his passions, his fears, his dreams. Douglas and The Yes Pile will shepherd your child to that goal.
Thanks, Douglas and The Yes Pile. You changed our child’s life forever.
Doug is an absolutely amazing coach. His work with my daughter was incredible — life-changing for her. The main product, an essay about her grandfather, was deeply moving and inspiring. And her meetings with Doug remain unforgettable.
An unexpected bonus was the indirect support I received as a parent, thanks to Doug's partnership with my daughter. Through the course of an incredibly tense year, Doug always listened patiently and quietly to my daughter, as only a good supportive presence would. His professional, collaborative style cultivated the kind of environment that allowed for acceptance and, thus, helped relax the college-application process.
I feel we owe Doug so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Doug!
Before my daughter started working with Doug, she felt overwhelmed at the prospect of writing her personal statement. She spent weeks trying and failing to get started. Finally, at the recommendation of a friend, I turned to Doug for help.
Doug knew exactly how to guide my daughter through the process. Doug helped her articulate what was important to her to convey, and the writing just flowed after that. What had been a source of frustration immediately became the one thing we did not have to worry about. My daughter was accepted at the University of Chicago, her first choice.
We were so pleased that we naturally turned to Doug again when my son was applying to college. His experience with Doug was just as positive as his sister's, and he has also been accepted at a top-five university. Both of my kids really enjoyed working with Doug, and with his guidance they were able to write essays that were uniquely theirs.
The reason The Yes Pile is so successful is that they help each student first to understand what makes him or her unique and then to present that uniqueness in carefully crafted essays. Their level of integrity is beyond reproach; each student has complete ownership of the process and the writing. Appreciating that every student is different, they tailor their method to the individual's needs.
The Yes Pile's coaching offers two other significant benefits. It has a tremendously positive impact on the student's writing abilities — a benefit that is easily transferable and extends well beyond the college-essay process itself. And, with the stress of college applications wearing on families, The Yes Pile is able to negotiate the occasional dust-ups that may arise between the student and the family, deftly helping them navigate the issue without sacrificing the family relationship and without compromising work with the student. The Yes Pile coached both my daughter and my son, and undoubtedly helped them obtain the utmost from their Yes Piles.
Our Yes Pile keeps growing! So far, my daughter has eight acceptances from eight responses, with a few schools outstanding. This success is remarkable, particularly considering that her SAT scores were in the lowest quartile for the schools she applied to, and her acceptance rate speaks to the power of strong essays to give an applicant a qualitative advantage that surmounts any quantitative assessment.
Doug was always responsive to my husband’s and my outreach, but my daughter and Doug worked independently from us. They developed a rapport that assisted her in maintaining a high level of motivation and a low level of stress. Her final set of essays is a great source of pride, since they show, in her words, what makes my daughter unique and desirable. And she has even applied elements of what she learned in the process to her schoolwork. We call them “Dougisms.”
The college-admissions process has become incredibly competitive. But with the right essays, thanks to Doug’s coaching, a student can get colleges to move his or her application from the stack to the Yes Pile!
Finding Douglas and The Yes Pile was like finding a winning lottery ticket. From our first discussion, Douglas always listened attentively to what shaped our son as not only a student but also an individual. And Douglas was so genuine in ascertaining our son’s strengths, weaknesses, and goals that our son felt continually at ease as Douglas helped him develop his ideas, voice his particular set of expressions and accomplishments, and write and fine-tune his essays.
A huge added dividend: having Douglas and The Yes Pile on our side definitely made the application process much more peaceful for not just our son but our entire family.
Doug was a lifesaver! He got to know my daughter, fostered her point of view and her writing style, and then helped her to integrate her strengths, passions, and personality into her college essays. Doug was generous with his time and supportive of my daughter throughout this challenging application process. She and I always knew we had an ally in Doug. The final product was a comprehensive set of essays that were written in her voice and that resulted in her acceptance to all of her top choices. I highly recommend Doug to both parents and college-bound students!
I knew from the first day I saw Doug talking to sixty anxious seniors and parents at a workshop that he had a special intuitive and compassionate way with students and a keen sense of what makes a college essay sing and stand out. His work with my daughter paid off in more ways than one. Not only did she get into the university of her choice early decision but she is also receiving a four-year tuition scholarship. Doug worked with my 12th-grader for weeks to help her find her voice and perfect her essays. He was always there for her (and me), patient and accessible, even when she was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. What more could a parent want? I highly recommend Doug as the quintessential essay-writing coach for any student applying to college!
Our daughter has intelligence, passion, and character, and wanted to go to one of the best colleges in the country. She is also a terrific writer. In other words, not much different, at least on the surface, from the many thousands of other good students seeking admission to the same colleges. She had ideas for essays, but each pointed in a different direction. Doug drew out and winnowed her thoughts until each of the three essays told a complementary story about our daughter, giving the university’s admissions committee an understanding of what our daughter would add to the student body in ways that other students might not. The words were hers, the ideas were hers, the finished product a result of many questions and an excellent understanding of what our daughter wanted to say. Every sentence had a point and led to the next sentence. There were no gimmicks, no lies, just a distilling of her passion and talent. Our daughter looked forward to meeting with Doug because she understood he was her advocate and was working with her, listening to her ideas. The essays are one of the few ways to differentiate one student from another. It was one of our best ideas to enlist Doug’s help. Our daughter is leaving this September for the school of her choice.
Before I met Doug, the task of writing my application essays seemed insurmountable, and I had no idea about format or content. But Doug removed virtually all the stress from the process. He was with me every step of the way.
From our first meeting, I felt extremely comfortable talking to Doug, and he and I immediately built a strong rapport. Doug learned about me by asking wide-ranging questions and taking great notes. And he always listened attentively. I was amazed when, many weeks later, Doug was routinely able to recall small, seemingly unrelated details and show me how to use them to improve the essays we were working on.
Doug helped me refine my broad, vague, scattered ideas into coherent themes. By the time we were done, I was amazed at how my stories had transformed into cohesive, succinct, powerful essays. Through this holistic process, Doug made me a much better writer and taught me skills that I constantly find myself applying to everything I write.
I got into my first-choice school, a gigantic reach based on my GPA — something I’m sure I never could have accomplished without Doug and the well-crafted essays that he was able to pull out of my jumble of ideas and stories. I can’t thank and recommend him enough.
Jamie, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
Working with The Yes Pile was the most rewarding and enjoyable part of my college-application process. Douglas alleviated an immense amount of stress by engineering a comfortable timeline, so I firmly knew I’d get my essays finished in a healthy, unrushed, yet punctual manner.
Conversations with Douglas were really natural, and his coaching style allowed him to learn about my life and character while allowing me to learn nuances about myself. Douglas then helped me refine my ideas and make every section as concise as possible.
My final drafts were clear, powerful, and emotional — everything I could’ve hoped for. So were my results: I applied early to four schools and was accepted to all of them!
Nina, Columbia University
How do I thank someone who changed my life?
Doug inspired me. Consider the word inspire. It comes from the Latin root spirare, "breathing life into,” which testifies to my experience. My work with Doug empowered and compelled me to tap into veins I didn't know I had when I began. He spurred me to become attuned to who I am and what I do. With Doug, I not only unearthed some of my chief questions and narratives but also clarified and resolved them (with the help of Doug’s uncanny conversational ability to draw out these ideas and pare away any extraneous material).
As someone who has had a lifelong love affair with words and writing, I found working with an exceptional writer like Doug transcendent. Doug’s experience challenged me to write more clearly, succinctly, and authentically. Writing honestly is something I’ll always work on, but without Doug’s consistent appeal to find my unique voice, I can't imagine I’d have a clear sense of just what my voice is — of what I truly sound like. And as writing is my favorite forum to broach my central questions and ideas, being coached by Doug in such a rare way gave me some of the initial yet fundamental tools for continuing to write, think, and construct meaning from any experience.
I couldn’t recommend a service more highly than the one Doug offers at The Yes Pile. It’s a great thing he’s doing.
Jake, McGill University
Like legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson, Doug has an innate ability to bring out the best in a student. Throughout the complex process of college-essay writing, he offered me so much more than advice on mechanics and technique. We developed a personal relationship which helped us to determine the appropriate topic for any given prompt. Once we had a direction, the fun could begin. During the writing phase, Doug emphasized that it was essential for me to express my voice in my essays. So I was always able to include my own personal sayings or colloquialisms. And during the editing phase, with such strict word or character counts, I labored with Doug over every word and made sure every sentence was bold but not excessive. I will never know 100%, but I am at the very least 99.99% sure, that my work with Doug helped move my applications into the Yes Pile.
Gabe, Cornell University
Doug was invaluable. He and I worked tirelessly, and I am extremely proud of the final product. He helped me to focus and relax during a very stressful process, and made our conversations fun and efficient — a combination I would have thought impossible, given the task at hand. And he could not have been more attentive to my questions or more accommodating of my procedural and stylistic neuroses (and there are many!). I have Doug to thank for my successful application process. I cannot recommend him highly enough!
Jane, Yale University
Doug helped me create my Common Application personal statement and all of my specialized supplementary essays. Prior to starting the writing itself, we spent several sessions talking about my life. And so Doug got to know me well. Speaking with him was extremely easy, and I chattered about things that I otherwise would have regarded as unimportant. But Doug knew better. In the end, he and I found among my stories, interests, and anecdotes an intriguing theme to use for my Common Application essay. Doug never fed me words. Instead, he listened to me read aloud and suggested revision where we both agreed the diction was not spot on. I had only a few hundred words to show admissions officers who I was; therefore, each word was significant.
I earnestly believe it was not my test scores, grades, or extracurricular activities that granted me early admission to my first-choice college, but my unique and well-written personal statement and supplements. In fact, Doug was the first person I called when “Congratulations!” flashed up on my computer screen. Working with Doug released many of the unnecessary pressures during the college-application process and helped me with time management. Not only did my work with Doug improve my writing and grammar skills but Doug also remains a mentor of mine.
Katherine, Brown University
UPenn was a major reach for me. There’s no way I would’ve gotten in without The Yes Pile’s unbelievably great help. Thank you!!
Jennifer, University of Pennsylvania
I was just accepted to my top choices: McGill and Skidmore! Thanks so much to The Yes Pile for all their help with my application essays!!!!
Anne, Skidmore College
What a great experience I had working with The Yes Pile! I am at the college of my choice, thanks to their incredible help. Because of them, I was accepted to Bennington and all of the other schools at the top of my list. The Yes Pile worked with me as much as I needed, and nurtured the development of my voice so that I was able to describe important experiences that have shaped my life. The Yes Pile's guidance not only improved my ability to write a college essay but also helped me strengthen my writing and editing in general — invaluable skills that will last much longer than the college-application process.
Sara, Bennington College
When I began the college-admissions process, a wave of application essays crashed down on me. Planning to apply to over ten schools, some of which required four supplemental essays, I felt beyond overwhelmed. And, having done mediocre on the standardized tests, I knew (and was reminded by my parents and college guidance counselor) the essays would be what got me into the schools I applied to. No pressure, right?
From my first conversation with Doug, I knew this was going to be a more than worthwhile venture. Doug and I spent our first meetings getting to know each other. He asked me questions, and I gave him long, complicated, detailed answers. I shared thoughts with him that I had with no one else, immediately demonstrating how comfortable I felt with him. I told him about the Common App essay I had started –- one that just didn’t feel right -– and about the essay I really wanted to write: a comparison between Mary Poppins and me. Until then, the Mary Poppins idea was not taken seriously by those who I had explained it to. But Doug knew. He knew this seed of an idea was what I loved and dreamed of and wanted to write about. So he said yes … and away we went. Together we spent many sessions completing more than fourteen essays. Doug never told me what I should write, or how to write it. Everything was mine. And while it drove me crazy during the process, I can only thank him now, because I know that every school I was accepted to, accepted me. When it came to deadlines, Doug was on top of them. He made sure we met them, yet required I know them on my own. He was there to support and guide me, but not do my work for me. He helped me make my essays works of art -– the best they could possibly be. And, along the way, he even taught me how to be a better editor of my other writing. His investment in my success motivated me to work harder, and I could never thank him enough.
Now, you're probably wondering how I did in the end. Well, I hit the “yes” pile jackpot, something that would not have been achieved without Doug. I was accepted to eleven schools, including Cornell University, the Macaulay Honors program, and George Washington University's prestigious Women's Leadership Program. Doug changed my life one hundred percent, and now I am a better writer and editor, an incoming GW freshman, and a more confident person. I can even say I have a new friend whom I truly respect. So, if you are contemplating using Doug, just say yes. Yes, yes, YES!
Kyra, George Washington University's Women's Leadership Program
The Yes Pile is absolutely awesome! Early to Brown — can't beat that! You're the best!!
Jenny, Brown University
My time with Doug ranks as one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Not only did he play an instrumental role in helping me produce beautiful and unique essays for each and every school, but his incredible listening skills, patience, and care toward my life experiences caused me to recognize many things about myself that I hadn’t previously. This journey inspired me to reach within and find my true self. This is not just a job to Doug. He truly cares about bringing out the best in people -- not just through writing, but also through in-depth conversation. I really could not have done this without you, Doug, and I am forever grateful for the compassion you have shown me throughout this process. Thank you so much!!!!!!
Sofia, Tulane University
I got in early decision to Brown, and I couldn't have done it without Doug! I can't thank him enough for all his wonderful help with my application essays.
Lizzie, Brown University
Yale was a stretch for me, but I was accepted! And I have no doubt that my application essays were the reason I got in. I will be eternally grateful to Doug for his expert coaching.
Matt, Yale University