“The review was honest, thoughtful and very insightful. Recommendations and tips for improvement were very valuable.”

How We Work

We create a completely personal online editing and coaching experience for our students.  

…and now a few words from our customers

With over 4 years, hundreds of essays and over 300,000 words of editing experience Sharper Pencil™ helped many students (and a few parents) reduce the stress of writing their application essays, personal statements, and scholarship essays.

There are two typos of people in the world: those who edit and those who don’t.

Learn more

John Lanphere

Chief Editing Officer

As a business leader, I’ve learned that writing to influence a decision is quite different than the typical writing assignments high school students are familiar with.   After years of helping students with this challenge, I created Sharper Pencil™ to help even more students achieve their college admission goals.


Am I an English major or teacher?  No.   I earned a BS degree in Computer Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology, and an Executive MBA from the University of Rochester's Simon School of Business. Throughout my career, I’ve learned the importance of excellent communication skills. In business, just like in college essays, you have to know who your audience is and what they are looking for.  My communications experience comes from  27 years working in many areas of engineering and management to the Director level in companies including the Central Intelligence Agency, Moore Business Forms, and Xerox Corporation.  I understand the importance of business communications.   As a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, I develop  and deliver professional training programs.   I coach leaders in Lean Six Sigma and Change Leadership.  I teach, coach, and apply communication and interaction skills as a certified trainer in coaching, Crucial Conversations™, and Influencer™.


With a passion for helping students and families, I formed RedBug Holdings, LLC with partnerships and services designed to help guide families through every step of the college search, admissions, and financial aid processes.

“The feedback was very easy to understand! Downloading the copies via email of the redlined papers was much easier than I had expected.”

“She had a great collection of thoughts and details, but Sharper Pencil helped make it a powerful 500 word representation of who she is.”