College Admissions Essay Workshop
This course will help students develop essay topics and drafts for the Common Application. Since narrative is the most effective form for the Common App personal statement, we will focus on storytelling skills. Students will learn to use elements of nonfiction craft to engage the audience’s sympathies by dramatizing compelling events.
Every student has personal experience that can be translated into a winning essay, but most schools don’t spend enough time teaching this kind of writing. It can be hard to recognize the best essay material even when you spend days scanning your memory for it. Shaping that material to snare and sustain a reader’s interest isn’t easy either. Applying the principles and methods of creative nonfiction to this process can help students at every stage, from early brainstorming to final edits.
The college admissions essay is an early and pivotal opportunity to reflect on your character strengths and to introduce yourself using personal narrative. In this way it prefigures career-related storytelling occasions like the common (and daunting) interview question, “Tell me about yourself.” Developing a strong personal narrative for your college application not only helps you prepare for such challenges, but can itself be a mode of illuminating self-discovery.
The course will be conducted in workshop format. That is, we’ll review drafts as a class, starting with exemplary college essays, and then we’ll spend time brainstorming topics and ways to refine class members’ drafts. The class limit of five students will ensure that each student’s drafts will receive plenty of attention, including detailed feedback on content, style and focus.
The total cost of the workshop is $850. To reserve your space, we ask for a deposit of $250. Because of the limited number of spaces, this deposit is non-refundable.
The schedule of workshops for 2018 is not yet published. They are typically held in the summer and fall.
About the Workshop Instructor: Bob Finegan
Bob Finegan holds a B.A. in English and History from the University of Delaware, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Additionally, he holds an M..F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was awarded a teaching fellowship.
Bob has been a professor of composition and literature at Drexel University since 1993. He has also taught workshops at the University of Pennsylvania Writers Conference and in the graduate creative writing program at Rosemont College. Since 2012 Bob has served as a writing consultant at the Wharton School, where he helped to develop a graduate writing program and continues to coach MBA students.
Bob’s short stories have been published in The Sun, River Styx, The Antietam Review and other magazines, and he has received a literature fellowship from The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He has been with MJ Test Prep since 2006, and besides tutoring for the SAT and SAT Subject Test in literature, he specializes in helping students with college admissions essays and general writing skills. Bob is VP of Sales at 11Trees, an e-Learning software company. His articles on various aspects of writing (including how to craft admissions essays) can be found at 11trees.com.