Over 600 tutoring hours

John R.

Deerfield, IL


Tutors English, Writing, College and Medical School Essays/Counseling

In-person lessons
Background check passed as of 4/17/15
5.0 average from 138 ratings
Highly recommend tutor!
— Stella, Palatine, IL on 4/14/16

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Political Science
Northwestern University


UCLA (Political Science)

Northwestern University (PhD)

About John

I tutor students to enhance their skills in writing, critical analysis of literature, and social studies, to help them succeed in high school, college, and on the job. As a Ph.D. (Northwestern), I have taught and mentored students at several colleges, worked with high school students on college search and application essays (and older students on essays and interviews for professional schools), tutored students in regular, honors and AP English, directed college and university programs for a national association, and edited magazines for teachers. Through these experiences, I have acquired the skill to write successfully—in content, clarity, and tone—for different audiences, a skill that I seek to build in all my students. In short, I work with students in high school and college to help them become the best that they can be, not just to "get by" but to succeed at the highest level. I tutor students to enhance their skills in writing, critical analysis of literature, and social studies, to help them succeed in high school, college, and Read more

2 hours notice required
Travel Radius
Travels within 15 miles of Deerfield, IL 60015
Background Check: Passed
In-person lessons

"Highly recommend tutor!"

- Stella, Palatine, IL on 4/14/16

"Very helpful, thorough tutor"

- Vijaya, Palatine, IL on 10/9/15

"Extremely Pleased with our Experience to Date"

- Andrea, Grayslake, IL on 9/6/15

"A very strong mentor in helping a writer find their voice and to share their opinions"

- Adrienne, Lake Forest, IL on 9/3/15

"Knowledgable and caring"

- Julie, Highland Park, IL on 8/24/15

"Very helpful and informative"

- Okhee, Northbrook, IL on 7/13/15

"Extremely Helpful with AMCAS applications and Interview prep for medical school! Comes Prepared! Goes above and beyond Expectations!"

- Peter, Mount Prospect, IL on 6/8/15

"Best Tutor"

- Sharon, Vernon Hills, IL on 5/20/15

"Very Responsible Tutor..."

- Mahe, Hoffman Estates, IL on 5/16/15

"Goes above and beyond!"

- Ruth, Morton Grove, IL on 5/15/14

"Above and beyond!"

- Paula, Evanston, IL on 3/3/14

"A great teacher"

- Sharon, Skokie, IL on 5/23/13
Grammar, Literature,
Test Preparation:
College Counseling
Elementary Education:

Approved subjects are in bold.

Approved subjects

In most cases, tutors gain approval in a subject by passing a proficiency exam. For some subject areas, like music and art, tutors submit written requests to demonstrate their proficiency to potential students. If a tutor is interested but not yet approved in a subject, the subject will appear in non-bold font. Tutors need to be approved in a subject prior to beginning lessons.

American History

The subject of U.S. History covers more than three hundred years of people, places, and events (major and minor), from the pre-colonial era to the present day. History textbooks are typically thick and dense, often nearly a thousand pages long. Teachers expect students to master details but also to understand, analyze, and write about broad themes (such as economic transformations, war and diplomacy, and American diversity) across historical time periods.

Having taught American Government at several colleges, I have a knowledge of and familiarity with the related field of American history. I work with students to build upon and refine the knowledge and interpretations of U.S. history that they bring with them from middle school and elementary school brushes with our nation’s history.

For students in AP classes, I also work with them to analyze and successfully write about the topics they will face on the DBQ and standard essay questions on the AP test.

College Counseling

I work with high school seniors to write successful college application essays for individual colleges, the Common Application, and dual degree programs such as the BS/MD. As an English and writing tutor, I help students write in their own voice with passion, pride, and humility about their subjects and stories. I also proofread essays so that they are free from grammar, punctuation, and other errors. To ensure that students meet deadlines for admission, early notification/action, and scholarship applications, I monitor student progress as needed.

Identifying potential "best-fit" colleges for students constitutes the most critical part of college counseling. Having been an undergraduate at UCLA, a graduate student at Northwestern, and a teacher at Vassar College (and at Chicago-area universities), I help students weigh the benefits and drawbacks of large public universities, mid-size privates, and small liberal arts colleges. Through my work directing college and university programs for the American Bar Association, I have visited dozens of campuses and know faculty, curricular programs, and student cultures. Drawing upon these experiences, I provide students and their families with an informed perspective on colleges, including merit aid opportunities.

Students applying to medical, dental, and other professional schools also reach out for help. I work with these students to write compelling personal statements that highlight their academic achievements, research, shadowing, and volunteer work. To prepare them for critical on-campus visits and interviews, I conduct mock interviews so that students practice and develop the ability to present themselves in a confident and knowledgeable tone. During the lengthy process to secure a seat in the entering class, I provide continuing advice and support.

Criminal Justice

I am the author of articles and essays on the criminal courts and criminal justice system, published in peer-reviewed academic journals such as Law & Society Review. Among the topics I have addressed are plea bargaining, sentencing, and the politics of court delay-reduction programs. I have also taught courses on criminal justice at the IIT Chicago Kent College of Law.


Improving in the subject of English requires attention to critical reading, writing, and research. These individual elements are highly interrelated. It is hard to write an essay about nonfiction material without doing background research. For novels, short stories, plays, and poems, students must analyze the text to uncover both the literal and symbolic meanings of the work.

Teachers expect students to pay close attention to tone, narrative structure, the author’s use of literary devices, and character analysis, attributes, and motivations. As an English and writing tutor, I teach students how to analyze texts and "close read" passages. I work with students to move them from plot summary to analysis, then to clear and effective writing that meets the requirements of argumentative essays, the cornerstone of writing in high school (and college). To achieve a high level of success in reading and writing, I expect students to annotate—to highlight, yes, but also to make marginal notes, summarize sections or chapters, and expand their vocabulary, thereby preparing for reading quizzes and essays while following the guidelines of most teachers, curriculum experts, and the College Board.

In sum, I focus on preparing students to understand the readings at the highest level, write effective in-class and take-home essays, study properly for quizzes and exams, and successfully complete homework assignments. To achieve this, I work with students in college-prep, honors and AP English on a regular basis that takes into account student needs and parent desires.

Government & Politics

American Government is a long and detailed narrative about our nation’s political history, structure, institutions, and public policies. Having taught American Politics & Government at several colleges and universities, I am able to help students achieve conceptual understandings of the three branches of government and the political process, both in historical perspective and current times.

I also try to use current events and controversies to bring alive and revisit some of the issues that are often so dryly presented in textbooks.

Beyond these broad topical areas, students also need to master (i.e., understand and memorize) the many key terms and phrases that are included in standard American Government textbooks and on tests. I work with students on their teacher-provided review questions and packets to be sure that they thoroughly know and understand these concepts and terms, so they can perform at a high level on multiple-choice and short-answer tests and quizzes.

I also work with students to prepare them for the AP Government test, which–unlike the AP US History test–requires a very precise knowledge of key concepts and terms on its short answer “essays” (FRQs).


Learning how to read, interpret, and analyze fiction can be challenging for many students. Although English teachers sometimes use nonfiction books and essays, for the most part novels, poems, plays, and short stories are the primary genres of reading in composition and literature classes. These fictional works, in particular, require an understanding of themes, contexts, and symbols.

I work with students in AP, honors, and college-prep English to teach them how to enjoy and learn from their assigned readings. While I ask students to pay close attention to narrative structure, point of view, tone, and literary devices, I also encourage students to examine, and where necessary research, the historical, political, economic or cultural context in which the story is set. To achieve these goals, I expect students to annotate -- yes, to highlight, but also to make marginal notes and brief summaries of sections and chapters, thereby following the recommendations of curriculum experts, teachers, and the College Board. These annotations will enable students to recall specific details, discuss the texts in class, and quickly find passages that support their arguments when writing in-class and out-of-class essays.

Writing a successful argumentative essay is the final step in literary analysis. I work with students to write essays that analyze the fiction, rather than recount the plot, by identifying and discussing such universal human themes as love, friendship, loyalty, revenge, betrayal, and leadership as well as contextual themes such as race, gender, social class, and identity. The writers of these texts care about their characters and plots, but they care more about the larger themes surrounding their stories; as readers and critics, so should we.


I am an experienced editor and proofreader, having edited national magazines for social studies teachers at the college and high school level. I know the AP style manual and am also familiar with those of MLA and Psychology.

Social Studies

I have a Ph.D. in political science and have taught political science and sociology classes at the college level. I also served as Director of School Programs (K-12) for the American Bar Association. Currently, I am a member of the National Council for the Social Studies; for this organization, I have led workshops at its annual conference, written articles for its main publication, and served on committees and as a reviewer.


Successful writing requires a series of steps. I work with students to develop ideas for their topic, write a clear thesis statement, organize their narrative, and integrate text citations to support their claims. In particular, I teach students the key elements of a successful argumentative essay, the cornerstone of writing in high school and college. Once a first draft is completed, I help students to edit (improve logical coherence as well as paragraph and sentence structure) and proofread (grammar, punctuation, and spelling). I work primarily with high school students, occasionally with college students and adults in the workplace.

In honors and AP English classes, I teach students to critically analyze the fiction or nonfiction text, consult (where appropriate) outside sources on the historical and political context of the work, and write papers that meet the teacher’s prompt, including a focus on analysis rather than plot summary. Depending upon the class assignments, we also work on various forms of creative writing, including memoirs and first-person narratives, journals, poems, and imitation writing that parallels the prose or poetic style of famous writers.

The best way for students to improve their writing is to practice--especially different forms of writing and on topics/materials of interest to them. I frequently assign independent writing to extend and enrich classroom assignments and build better writing skills. Through my work as a writer, editor, and tutor, I have learned how to help students and adults communicate with more skill, polish, and persuasion.

Political Science
Northwestern University


UCLA (Political Science)

Northwestern University (PhD)

Highly recommend tutor! — It is my pleasure to highly recommend John to help with college essays. He helped my daughter not only with college essays, but was also very knowledgeable about the admissions process as a whole, and provide to my daughter valuable guidance during application submissions. John has a great a personality, and it was a pleasure to work with him. We would not have been able to do this without him ...

— Stella, Palatine, IL on 4/14/16

Hourly rate

Standard Hourly Rate: $50.00

Cancellation: 2 hours notice required

Travel policy

John will travel within 15 miles of Deerfield, IL 60015.