College Application Essay Writing Workshops

“I 100% believe that the admission essay workshop that I took part in at North Port High School changed the course of my college career. I was always so insecure about my writing skills. I know what I want to say, but sometimes I have trouble putting the ideas onto paper. Dr. Wells really guided me during those few days. Most importantly, she didn’t do it for me, Dr. Wells gave me the tools (which I still use to this day) that I needed to write an essay that would have me admitted into my dream school.” – Arianna Gonzalez

About the Workshops

Why participate in a workshop?

College application essay writing can be an overwhelming experience for many students.  Not only can the stakes be high, but it is not always easy nor comfortable for students to write about themselves.  Many students don’t know where to begin or how to come up with a topic or topics to write about.  Others know what story they want to tell but don’t know how to organize their narrative.  This workshop will help students:

  • understand and analyze Common Application essay questions
  • brainstorm essay topic(s)
  • select an essay topic and generate a narrative with details and description
  • explore organizational choices
  • give and receive developmental feedback

By the end of the workshop, students will have a first draft of their essay.

When are the workshops?

The 2021 College Application Essay Writing Workshops will be offered online.

The July and August workshops are 7.5 hours in total and take place over three days.  Each day builds on the previous day, so the workshops will only be useful if students can participate each day.  

The October and November workshops a condensed, fast-paced version of the summer workshops and are 5 hours in total. They will be offered on October 8, October 17, and November 24 from 9:30-3 p.m.

What is the cost of a workshop?

Thanks to the support of the Barancik Foundation, these workshops are being offered at no cost to students enrolled in Sarasota or Manatee County high schools.

Who is facilitating the workshops?

Dr. Jennifer Wells is the Director of Writing at New College of Florida where she teaches courses in Rhetoric and Writing. Previously, Dr. Wells taught at Florida State University, and prior to that, taught high school Language Arts and directed a high school writing center.  She has been supporting high school students through the college application essay writing process for 17 years.  

register for a workshop

Registration opens 14 days prior to the workshop start and closes at midnight the day before the workshop.  To sign up to receive emails about the workshops, including reminders of registration windows, please click here.

July 12-14: Registration closed.
August 4-6: Registration closed.
October 8: Registration closed.
October 17: Registration closed.
November 24: Registration open.

Information for Confirmed Registrants

Here are some important details for confirmed workshop participants, who will also receive this information via email.

  1. To join the virtual classroom and Zoom: 

Students, keep your eyes peeled for an email from “Instructure Canvas” with the subject line, “Course Invitation.”  This is the invitation to the virtual classroom.  The Zoom link for the workshops is inside the classroom, so students will need to get in the classroom to get the link.  We will be using both the classroom and Zoom simultaneously during the workshop.  Here is a video that takes students step by step from the Instructure Canvas email to the classroom:

  1. Workshop structure:

Each day the workshop will be broken down into “pomodoros” (we will explain!), which means every 25 minutes students will get a 5 minute break. 2.5 hours is a long time to sit in front of a screen, so rest assured students will have dedicated time to get a snack, pet the dog, respond to texts, etc.  

Morning will focus on introducing students to the Common App essay prompts, analyzing them for what they do (and don’t) say, brainstorming a list of topics, and choosing a handful of topics.  

Afternoon is devoted to writing the very, very, very rough draft.  Students will explore different ways to organize. Dr. Wells will also share some favorite tools for productive writing.  Students will have workshop time to write. 

Day 3 (for summer workshops only) is all about giving and receiving developmental feedback, making revisions, and finalizing an action plan for polishing the draft after the workshop.

  1. Materials:

    Students will need a computer or laptop or tablet with a keyboard to be able to access the virtual classroom and have Zoom going at the same time.  In addition to tech, students may also want to have a notebook and pen or pencil, as well as a small stack of blank index cards OR Post-It notes OR scrap paper cut up into smaller slips of paper.  And snacks.  Always write with snacks!