College Essay Writing Workshop Part 1


10 minutes

Introduce yourself when everyone has arrived.

  • Name (and what they should call you)
  • Any relevant professional/personal experience
  • What you like about college application essays
  • Why you think writing is important

Allow 5-10 minutes for students to complete handout.

Facilitate discussion

  • Ask a few students to share answers to one of the questions (every student should not answer every question.)
  • Comment briefly on the responses.
  • Make sure everyone can easily follow the fill-in-the-blank format (Experience X was important because…) You will refer back to this when you discuss Step 3 (Focus on Theme) later in the workshop.

Introduce concept of “theme”

  • In very general terms, introduce the idea that a personal statement needs a theme.
  • Most likely, their responses to the “Who Am I?” questions focused primarily on “what happened” and did not go into “why it matters.” For now that is fine. Later they will learn to ensure that their essays include both aspects.
  • Note to instructor: This concept will be modified for other types of essays; today you are focusing on personal statements. (e.g., a “Why College X” essay does not have the same type of theme as a personal statement, although the concept of theme is still relevant.)