Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Review: Fortuigence

Of all my children, Laura, my senior, has always had the least struggle with writing. She really enjoys it, and has assembled a nice portfolio of high school essays over the last few years. One area where Laura really struggled though, was writing personal essays about herself. This has recently come to light especially since she is starting the college application process, and most colleges require a personal essay.

When we were given the opportunity to review the Personal Statement Writing Course from Fortuigence, I had really high hopes that this course would help her overcome this difficulty and prepare her for the college application writing process. I am happy to say that I was not disappointed!

Fortuigence Founder & Instructor Lily Iatridis
What is Fortuigence? This company was founded by a veteran teacher, Lily Iatridis. It is an online course allowing students to master skills at their own pace, working one-on-one with a teacher/mentor. At this time, classes are focused on various writing skills, and most of the students are homeschoolers.

What is the Personal Statement Writing Course? This course is designed to help high school students write a specific essay telling about themselves. Most college applications ask for a personal statement type of essay, and by writing one, students are given the opportunity to showcase their unique personality and talents, and share their background. Many college decisions are based upon these essays, so they become extremely important. This course teaches a student how to list their strengths and weaknesses, explore what makes them unique as an individual, and share their background in an interesting essay.

How does this course work? After signing up, students submit a sample writing assignment (could even be a copy of something already written in the past) to the online program. The entire process is one-on-one between the student and the online teacher. The course contains seven lessons, in both video and written format. Once the student has submitted their sample and received feedback, they are allowed to move on to the next lesson. They can work at their own pace, completing a lesson in one sitting, or over several days. The video at the start of the lesson is short and informative, and helps the student know exactly what the assignment is all about.

Once the student has submitted their assignment, they wait for a return email from the instructor, critiquing their work and giving them feedback on what could be improved. They can edit their work accordingly, and send it back to the instructor. The instructor will let them know when they can move on to the next lesson.  On the home page of their program, a small check mark will appear next to completed lessons, to help the student keep track of their progress.

Finishing the course:  A course can typically be completed in about a month, with a student working through the assignments several days per week. At the end of the course, the student gives feedback to the instructor about the course, and also receives a lovely, professional looking certificate of completion.

How many credits is the course worth?  One writing course is equivalent to .125 credits of High School English. If a student completes all four writing classes currently offered, they would receive one-half a credit of High School English.

What other courses are currently offered? Besides the Personal Statement Writing Course, the other three writing classes available are the Persuasive Essay, the Expository Essay, and Textual Analysis. Not only are these common essay themes that a high school student must master, but they are also helpful instruction for the writing section of the SAT/ACT tests.

How much does it cost? One complete writing course is $57. If all four are ordered together, there is a discount given, bringing the cost to $197. for all four courses.

What ages can use this? The writing instruction is geared towards ages 12-18. I think that students who have a basic grasp of writing fundamentals, grammar, outlines, and editing will have better success with this course, although there definitely is enough instruction and resources included to help a struggling writer.

How did we use this course? As I stated earlier, our goal for this course was to help Laura complete a personal statement essay that she could use this coming month as she fills out college applications. She started in on the assignments immediately, and was able to complete the entire course within a month. For the writing sample, she submitted a short essay she had already written. She worked through the first four lessons rather quickly, then spent the majority of the month writing, editing, and re-writing her final essay. The last lesson was a wrap-up, allowing Laura to give the instructor some feedback about the course, and print out her certificate of completion.

After submitting an assignment, Laura would receive feedback from 'Ms. I' fairly quickly, typically the same day, but always by the next morning. Laura would move on to the next lesson by watching the introductory video then working to complete the assignment. Often she could complete both in one sitting, although several lessons took her several days to complete.

Highlights: During this course, Laura learned of a program that Ms. I had her use, that taught her how to brainstorm and use the ideas to create a "mind map." This was Laura's favorite aspect of using this program. She found the mind map concept an incredible help to writing her essay, and has even incorporated it into other areas of life. The brainstorm/mind map teaching in this course was definitely worth the cost of the course alone! Laura said it was the easiest method she has ever used to write an essay. (And this comes from someone who enjoys writing!)

Brainstorming for an outline

The "Mind Map"  - setting up the essay

Mom's thoughts: Typically, as the home school teacher, I am the one to do all the editing, correcting, and suggestions to the kids' writing assignments. This is a tough position to be in. While I don't want to rob their creativity and make the essay something different than what their original intent was, I also want to make sure their points are clear. I absolutely loved having an outside source take over this duty, and offer some solid instruction for editing and clarity. I was able to completely step out of this writing assignment, and just enjoy the solid finished product at the end. As hard as I try, I know that my edits are not always completely objective, so I really appreciated reading the feedback that Ms. I gave. It was positive and helpful. Laura enjoyed working with an outside source, and having someone else critique her writing, because she felt she was getting accurate feedback similar to what a college professor might say about her writing. Ms. I was a master at drawing out the thoughts Laura was trying to say, mostly by just asking questions or pointing out specific wording that needed clarification. Knowing exactly what to change helped Laura focus on improving the essay efficiently.

What did we think? The area of writing that Laura has struggled the most with is writing about herself. She finds it difficult to write about her own life personally, and has often felt like writing about one's own accomplishments is akin to bragging. This program just really clicked for her. It made writing about herself a mountain that could be conquered. It eliminated the struggle from writing this personal statement, and helped Laura comfortably write about herself in an objective and appealing way. Her completed essay is all ready to be attached to college applications, lifting a huge burden from her shoulders!

This program is one of the best kept secrets in the home school community! 

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  1. Thank you so much for the review. I'm happy to have helped Laura prepare for her college applications. To tell the truth, I didn't even know she was working on them!



    1. Thank you for stopping by to read the review! I am so grateful for the opportunity to review the program and see the success that Laura was able to experience by using it. Your comments and feedback throughout the course were positive and encouraging, and brought a smile to Laura's face. This program definitely was a tremendous blessing to our home school.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!