The College Essay Workshop is a four-day summer program where students receive focused instruction and individual feedback on college application essay writing from B-CC’s English teachers. Students learn about common application prompts and develop responses to the prompts. They also learn to give and receive peer feedback. The program is designed to culminate with a finished college essay. Many students participating also left the program having started an additional essay. The peer-to-peer relationships established during the program also help students with their school work during the school year.
In order to help all students complete their essays, the teachers offer additional feedback on the last day of the workshop by allowing students to send them one final draft. Students are encouraged to use the College and Career Center Essay Critique Sessions, as well as TAP, to help with additional essays during the school year.
Started with two one-week sessions in the summer of 2014 by two B-CC English teachers, the program has gained immense popularity, and a third session has been added. Plans for future years include more enrollment of 9th and 10th grade Summer Academy graduates and participants from the Minority Scholars Program. In addition, while the teachers give nightly feedback after each day’s sessions, they have found that “live” feedback (where students could ask more clarifying questions) yields better results. Fewer students per session in the future may be a solution.
FY2018 College Essay Workshop
Three four-day sessions were offered in the summer of 2017. Of the students who attended the sessions, all had a working draft at the end of the workshop. Some students left with other supplemental essay possibilities as well. This summer the teachers worked on creating smaller sessions (12 students per teacher) to help students maintain focus. A strict attendance policy also helped keep attendance more consistent. Students were also given more writing time on essays that were developed and had already received feedback in order to help them get a potential start to a second essay.
FY2017 College Essay Workshop
Three four-day sessions were offered in the summer of 2016, each with 30 students or more. In total, 102 students attended, 92 finished the workshop with an essay they felt confident about submitting in the fall, and some left with other supplemental essay possibilities as well. Those students who did not complete a draft essay either had problems with attendance or had lower skills and familiarity with essay writing coming into the workshop, but all students who attended, even for one day, left with a possible start to a college essay.
Having smaller sessions (with 12 students per teacher) produced better outcomes this summer, but teachers still struggled with giving every student a fair amount of time during the “live” sessions. Teachers also considered making changes next summer to give students more writing time on essays that are developed and have already received feedback in hope that more students will leave with not just one completed essay but a potential start to another.
FY2016 College Essay Workshop
There were three sessions of the workshop during the summer of 2015, each with about 30 students, and an additional 30 students on the wait list. Two B-CC English teachers staffed each session of the workshops. All but three of those attended finished the workshop with a completed essay that they felt confident about but that still needed work. There was a significant increase in the number of students who left the workshop with two possible essays that they were working on compared to previous year. A greater chance of 100% completion would have been helped by more one-on-one interactions between teacher and student.