2019-2020 Studio Scholars Program
The Studio Scholars Program is a community of shared inspiration and purpose, where scholars are supported and mentored by academic writing professionals and peers. Our main program runs for a full year, from September 1 to August 31. We also have a six-month program that begins March 1 as well as a summer session. Applicants who wish to participate on a different timeline will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Here are some of the programs main features:
Access to our virtual writing community of scholars and coaches (FYI: it’s on Slack, if that means anything to you).
Empathy, expertise, community, and problem-solving from pros and peers.
Smaller break-out discussion groups on whatever members most need, as you need them—for example, on writing book proposals, imposter syndrome, research methods, parenting.
Input on issues related to your writing itself as well as on everything from the publishing process and getting promoted to dealing with annoying people in meetings.
Virtual cowriting/coworking (one of our most popular features!)
Access to a 3-person staff with 50+ years of academic writing and professional development experience
A private 4-way channel for you + our team, so you can get straight to us when you need us.
A big chunk of 1:1 time with us that you can use as you’d like (check out the details in the FAQs below).
A year of programming customized to meet your needs.
Help with strategic planning and follow-through.
Customized time management and accountability support—whether you need time trackers, daily or weekly check-ins, or reward systems, or something else, or a combination.
Office hours several times a week (for 2018-19, we’ve held them every workday).
People who have your back through a year of professional and scholarly ups and downs.
How much will it cost you?
$2500 for the year. We recognize that that’s not the kind of money most of us just find in our couches. But …
Ask us about scholarships and payment plans!
Your institution may pay all or part of the cost. We can help you discuss it with them.
We’re happy to discuss either or both of these options with you. Remember: we’re a nonprofit with a mission to expand access to academic writing support. Our goal is to get you fantastic support and charge only as much as it takes to keep the lights on.
Want more info? We’ve got lots.
Want a full-on consultation about whether the program’s a good fit?
Tell us more by completing our info form. Fill us in on your goals and needs, and we’ll get in touch to set up a meeting.
Ready to join?
Frequently asked questions
- We’ll review your application to double check that you’re the right fit.
- We’ll get in touch with you (several times) to get to know you better and to keep you updated.
- We’ll do any payment-related or other kinds of followup (invoicing, checking in with anyone you’d like us to—like if you need us to talk to your department chair).
- We’ll get you set up, and trained if you need it, on our communication platform.
- On September 1 we’ll get to work.
Folks often want to know how much 1:1 time they’ll get, and specifically how much editing they can expect. Basically, the Studio works like a timeshare or farm share in that you’re paying for a portion of our time. Here’s the math we have come up with for this year, along with some clarifying details:
- Becoming a Studio Scholar gets you 15 hours of 1:1 support. That’s 2 one-hour strategy sessions + weekly 15-minute meetings … or 1 hour/month + 3 bonus hours … or however you want to divide it up).
- You can use that time for coaching, planning, discussing your research, editing, or any combination you’d like.
- As a point of reference, AWS charges $150 per hour of 1:1 coaching for people not in the program. If you got those 15 hours outside of the program, you’d pay $2,250. For $250 more, you’re getting the whole year of Studio membership plus those hours.
- You can still also drop in on office hours, message us anytime, or of course get support from other community members.
- If you find yourself wanting additional dedicated 1:1 time, Studio Scholars get discounts on AWS’s regular hourly rates.
Our program was designed specifically to serve college and university faculty, but it can absolutely benefit people in other situations, including independent scholars, PhD candidates working on dissertations, and others.
We hope everyone has a conversation with us before applying, but that’s especially the case for people who aren’t college/university faculty.
We accept non-faculty Studio Scholars on a case-by-case basis. Please make sure to talk to us about your fit before applying.
Whether we accept a non-faculty application ultimately boils down to how much we think, given everyone’s specific needs, an applicant will be able to contribute to the community and how much the community can contribute in return. There are many ways a person can contribute, though.
One way to think about this issue is to foreground the issue of peer mentoring in the community. While being a mentor is certainly rewarding, people don’t join the Studio for that privilege; they join to get support. We want to create a situation where everyone is able to offer wisdom/mentoring of some kind.
So, for example, we might get an application from a midcareer professional who has been in the nonprofit world and has a publication record, copious experience with winning and managing grants, and expertise program assessment and evaluation—but is working on his Master’s thesis. Or someone with a PhD who’s working for a government agency and wants to revisit her dissertation to transform it into a book. Or an independent education professional who completed a large and important study but keeps getting stuck on writing her research results into a book—sometimes because she’s trying to say everything there is to say, and sometimes because she’s worried about proving her credibility to any audience who might ever read her work. Or a college administrator who has done some truly urgent research on teen suicide, research that’s now sitting unpublished because his current job doesn’t officially support his research and he can’t figure out where the time can come from.
(Those last three examples are actual people, by the way. The first one is an amalgamation.)
The reasons for this are mostly pedagogical/philosophical, plus one logistical/financial reason. Here are at least some from the first category:
- In terms of practice, it is absolutely possible to learn whatever you really need to know, form good habits, and get a ton of research/writing done in a couple of months or a semester or whatever. However, we think it’s more possible, and you can make it deeper and more sustainable, if you reinforce those things for a longer time.
- Along those lines, a year also gets you through a full annual cycle and helps ensure that your productivity tactics work or are adaptable to a year’s worth of situations. It also gives you more time to find what works for you.
- A year allows us to help see you through meeting a big chunk of research goals. It’s one thing to form good habits and establish a structure for producing scholarship, but if we’re around for a year we can provide actual substantive support on your project itself. (Obviously some projects require longer than a year, but we can still get you a lot closer to the finish line.)
- We want to be life-transforming, and that takes commitment and time. Knowing up front that you’re in for a year lines you up to be ready for that. People approach a year-long commitment in a different way than they approach a shorter commitment or a group that they’ll just be in for as long as they feel like being in it.
- Everyone joining the same year-long program means that you’re going through the same experience together.
- Similarly, we want to build a really powerful community that as quickly as possible, a process that’s easier when you have a stable group of people.
So those are some pedagogical reasons. Here’s the financial reason: We’re a nonprofit whose purpose for existing is to provide impeccable support that’s also affordable.
Our annual operating costs are more or less a known quantity (presuming we have good insurance and build a bit of equity or safety valve into our budget). If we don’t know how many people we’ll have at any given time, in order to be financially safe we have to set our prices based on the fewest number of participants OR not have a cap on the number of people we serve.
In case that logic doesn’t make sense, here’s an example. (If you’ve followed the above point, you can stop here!) Let’s say our annual operating costs are $6000. If we recruit 100 scholars for a year, that’s $60 each for the year and we’re all set. That translates to $5/month per scholar.
We could also make it a monthly subscription and let people come and go. If we need $6000 for the year, we need to bring in $500 a month, or $5 per scholar per month. BUT if we set a cap of 100 participants (to make sure we don’t spread ourselves too thin to provide the service level we want to offer), we might have a lot of people joining around, say, January 1, so we’d hit capacity and wouldn’t be able to let anyone else in, but then they might all quit 3 weeks or 3 months later and until we filled back up, we wouldn’t be getting that $500/month we need. So we’d have to raise our prices for other months to make up for that potential loss. The scholars who are sticking with us now have to pay $6 or $7 a month, so now they’re basically paying for the people who come and then leave, which isn’t really fair to them.
(If you’ve really been picturing this, you can also probably envision how frustrating this would be in non-financial ways, too—just in terms of us doing our jobs well..)
As the above answer observes, the community is absolutely critical to the Studio Scholars program, and we want to both turbocharge the community-growing and also level the playing field. Everyone starting at the same time helps do both of those. And it means that everyone is going through the same cycle of getting to know each other, of picking up steam in the program, and of pushing to meet their goals for the year at the same time.
As for why it starts September 1, that’s kind of a funny story. We initially planned to start it July 1, thinking that would be a nice time for everyone to transition in and out of the program—it’s kind of when the academic/fiscal year changes, and people with summers off are off at that time, and so on.
But, we’ll just give it to you straight up: we underestimated how long it takes to put together a nonprofit, and we weren’t ready by July 1. So then we planned to start it on September 1 and have a 9-month program for our pilot year.
And then we actually experienced July 1, and it turns out that it feels like a terrible time to start our program. It’s right before the July 4 week, people are rolling in and out of summer vacations (which, academics on the quarter system have barely burned off the stress of the school year, others are grinding through summer sessions, and everyone kind of wants to do their work but also relax a little. And people are rolling in and out of summer vacations, which isn’t conducive to the kind of turbocharged community-building we want to do, and we don’t want to be hassling people on their vacations.
September 1 isn’t the most convenient time for faculty who start teaching around then, but it is a great time to realize that it’s never a good time, and to set up good habits right out of the gate, and it’s back-to-school season for everyone (and for some of us, that also means back-to-having-child-care). And at the end of the cycle, it gives participants a chance to go through the home stretch during a time when there are fewer commitments, but you’ve also been able to plan ahead, so you can go ahead and take that vacation.
Unfortunately it’s not. BUT it’s likely that you can claim it as a professional expense. Check with your tax advisor. We fancy ourselves very reliable, but not as a source of tax advice.
As for your aunt, she is welcome to make a donation, but if it’s specifically to pay for you, that’s not tax-deductible, either.
Basically the issue here is that paying enrollment fees is a fee-for-service situation. In short, you are Paying for a Thing. Donations have to be money freely given, with no strings attached. Actually, technically, you can have certain kinds of strings, but they can’t be so specific that they are effectively given in exchange for a Thing.