College Application Essay Workshop

Introduction by Peter Schmidt:

I have read and graded thousands of practice ACT and SAT essays and have found that very few high school students understand the principles behind structurally sound, persuasive college essays. This is a serious problem not just for their performance on the timed, handwritten ACT and SAT writing sections, but also on the timed, handwritten mid-terms and final exams they will take in college. Furthermore, since the principles of good writing are universal, these students typically do not know how to write convincing typed/prepared class papers, either.

And young people don’t stop writing when they graduate from college. The ability to clearly express their thoughts in writing can become a great asset for young professionals and graduate students; conversely, an inability to write well can seriously impede their progress in 'real life,' when they are called upon to write letters of introduction to prospective employers and, later, as employees, to write daily memos and e-mails to their bosses and co-workers.

Unfortunately, most secondary students do not receive an intensive education in the rules of grammar and the principles of analytical writing; indeed, few American students receive anything more than a cursory education in the grammar of their native tongue. Since college professors seldom have the time or inclination to collaborate with their students on the quality of their writing, millions of young people never learn to address their compositional and grammatical shortcomings and remain ignorant of these deficiencies for the rest of their lives.

I always hope that my ACT or SAT students will become better writers after attending my class, but since the essay is only one of many sections on either test, I cannot devote as much time as I would like to the mechanics and subtleties of good writing. Therefore, while I will continue to work with my test prep students on improving their grammar and essay writing skills, I have decided to introduce regular workshops on the art of writing the personal essay that is a vital part of almost all college applications. These workshops will not just help students write effective college entrance essays but also set them on the proper path to writing well for their rest of their lives.

Thus, I now have the pleasure to introduce a new member of the Prepare team: Jody Griffith, who has taught composition and writing-intensive literature courses to scores of students at Temple University, where she completed her Ph.D. in English Literature. Since Dr. Griffith is familiar with the tendencies, strengths and weaknesses of modern American students, she is the ideal person to lead our new College Essay Workshops.


What Students will learn in the College Essay Workshop


by Dr. Jody Griffith 

B.A., Muhlenberg ; M.A., Villanova ; Ph.D. (Lit.) Temple


         In the hectic and stressful college admissions process, writing an effective personal essay can seem like one more obstacle to clear. However, you should see the personal essay as a great opportunity for you to:

·  Slow down the admissions process and reflect on what you want out of your college experience

·  Determine what special qualities you have to offer to the college community

·  Use the essay to stand out and be seen a real person, not just an application.

As an instructor of first-year writing courses, I’ve found that many freshmen arrive on campus without a clear sense of why they’ve come to college and how they fit in. In high school, being a successful student often means learning to meet teacher expectations, while the most successful college students actively engage with each learning experience according to their own intrinsic expectations. Writing the personal essay should be your first step in making that intellectual transition.

         An effective personal essay is helps college admissions officers—the people who decide whether you will be accepted—understand that you are more than just a compilation of test scores and grades; your personal essay is their chance to meet the individual behind the data. Your essay can help them see that you have the tools to succeed at their institution.

         Students who attend our college essay workshop should come prepared to share, discuss, analyze, review, reflect, and write. We will:

·  Share our concerns and questions about the personal essay.

·  Discuss some of the differences between high school and college writing.

·  Analyze sample essay prompts from both the “Common App” and from specific local institutions, and develop writing strategies to respond to them.

·  Review and discuss different possibilities for structuring the personal essay.

·  Reflect and write, using activities and exercises designed to focus on interesting and effective essay topics.

If students so choose, they can arrange to meet with me, individually, to work on the structure and details of their own essays. Prices for individual help will vary, depending on each student's needs:

Available Essay Service Levels 

  • Essay workshop only. Information and pre-writing activities. Two hours. $25 for Prepare ACT-SAT students; $35 for non-Prepare students.

  • Essay workshop with online draft review. Student attends workshop, then submits draft, receives response, submits revisions, receives final comments. 45 minutes per draft; 1.5 per hours total. $50 for Prepare ACT-SAT students, $75 for non-Prepare students.

  • Online draft review without essay workshop. Student submits draft, receives response, submits revisions, receives final comments. 45 minutes per draft; 1.5 per hours total. $50 for Prepare ACT-SAT students, $75 for non-Prepare students.

Upcoming Workshops

Spring workshops have concluded.

August-September workshops will be announced later this summer.

If you would like to be notified when these dates are posted, please go the Enroll Here page.


To enroll and/or ask any questions, please go to the Enroll Here page.