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College Essay Workshop Supports Seniors Preparing College Applications

As deadlines for college applications approach Harrison High School seniors completed the final session of the three-part College Essay Writing Workshop. The workshop, developed to work with students on writing their college essays, is open to all HHS seniors. Members of the HHS  English Department, Rachel Voss, Caroline Brennen, Gary Glauber and Tara Xanthopolous, facilitated the sessions and supported students through each step of the writing process.

The goal of the workshop is to support students as they create their college essays. English teachers provide explicit instruction around brainstorming ideas, selecting a topic, drafting, revising and editing their college essay.  Students receive support from their peers and multiple teachers through one-on-one conferences. Teachers provide personalized instruction, supporting all students in their writing process. The majority of the class is made of small group and individual conferences where students receive explicit feedback about their writing. These powerful conversations have allowed students to make major shifts to their writing of their college essay. 

Students were encouraged to attend all three sessions of the workshop:

Session 1: In June, students engaged in a zoom meeting and breakout rooms, where they engaged with various prompts to get them started with their essay.

Session 2: This week-long summer workshop allowed students to move through the writing process, focusing on collecting ideas, peer feedback, close readings and writing suggestions by teachers. Some mini-lessons during this week included crafting strong beginnings, slowing down the stories of the college essay, and determining the "so-what" of a college essay. 

Session 3: This Saturday workshop allowed students to receive feedback on their 'almost- completed' essays. Students worked with multiple teachers on revision and editing of the college essay. 

Students found the workshops to be helpful and powerful. One student shared, "Through all of the sessions, Spring, Summer and now this Fall workshop, I feel so good about my completed essay."