A successful brainstorming workshop

Six rising seniors attended today’s workshop in Westford, Mass., and what a rewarding experience it was.

The students left having written their opening paragraphs for their college application essays with an assignment to write the rest by Sunday, July 3.

It’s a tall order since all are going away for the holiday. But some said they’d find a short period to break away and write the story. All have the option of sending me their first draft for feedback and further direction.

Grammar, spelling, organization — none of that matters at this point. The goal is to have a beginning, middle and end. Add some tension, a transformational paragraph and a kicker (strong ending). Show how you resolved a problem or persevered when the odds were against you. Make yourself stand out in an admissions officer’s memory.

I honestly love learning about the students as the workshop progresses and they reveal more of themselves. As the layers of self-protection peel away, we come closer to finding a solid essay topic that illustrates something meaningful about them. Their genuineness is so inspiring and uplifting. I see their bright futures ahead.

The workshop is full!

My workshop on “Brainstorming your college essay” for June 29 in Westford, Mass., is full.

Six rising seniors have registered for the three-hour tutorial that will help them find a topic and begin writing.

I’ll accept names for a wait list.

I’m extremely impressed with these students for getting the ball rolling before school starts in August because that’s when things get really busy.

If you’re interested in a brainstorming workshop or a private tutoring session, just email me at winningcollegeessay@gmail.com and we’ll arrange a date to meet.

For those living out of state, we can arrange a meeting over the internet via Skype.

Just email!

The writing process; sometimes it works and sometimes…

I wrote an essay on Sunday about a high school graduation I had attended that weekend.

You see, I’m a community newspaper editor and I was there to cover the event and write a news story for my paper. But the event was so stirring that I was moved to also write an essay about it for the paper’s opinion page. The only trouble is when I wrote the first version it was a mess. I zigzagged, took u-turns and tried to make too many points. Not realizing how bad it was, I read it (with pride) to a friend. When I finished and looked at his face I wondered why he looked so pained.

Fortunately, I had left myself enough time before deadline to write another draft. The second version was much better, with a clearer focus, and I was able to publish it without embarrassing myself.

The first draft  of your college essay is a practice run. Leave yourself enough time to revise it as many times as needed. Read it to your friends and family members. Listen to their reactions. Take all the feedback into account, but stay true to your own central theme. Don’t make the mistake of embellishing your story.

The truth is always more interesting.

Have faith as you write that the final version will turn out okay.

If you get started this summer you’ll be doing yourself the biggest favor of your young life. When senior year begins, life will get busier than it  has ever been before. Don’t worry, you’ll get through it. Still, if you can complete this requirement before then, you’ll make it easier on yourself.

If you need help getting started, just email or click. I’m here to help. As a matter of fact, I’ve scheduled a workshop on “Brainstorming the college essay” for June 29, 2 to 5 p.m. in Westford, Mass. or via Skype. There are just 3 seats left for a total of only six students. There will be lots of one-on-one attention and you will leave with a solid essay topic and the beginning of a draft.

Go ahead and click!

My own truth

I’m working on an essay today in which I acknowledge that I haven’t discovered my own truth.

You see, in my brainstorming workshops I ask my students to write about their “kernel of truth.” What I mean is that I want them to acknowledge not just their successes but also their foibles. I want them to reveal the things they hide or don’t speak about.

I believe the most compelling essays are those that are truthful.

And yet, I’ve never really required myself to do the same. It’s time for me to look inside myself. This is scary stuff, but I can’t expect others to confide their vulnerabilities if I don’t know mine.

I’ll post the essay in a few days.

In the meantime, if you’re a rising senior ready to search for a topic for your college application essay, come to my workshop on June 29, 2 to 5 p.m. at One Technology Park Drive, Westford, Mass.

Register here and take a load off your shoulders. I’ll make it interesting, fun and meaningful.  I promise!

Brainstorming workshop, June 29

I’ll be holding a workshop to help rising seniors brainstorm their college application essays on Wednesday, June 29, from 2 to 5 p.m. at Technology Park Drive in Westford, Mass.

To register, click here.

The exact location will be sent to registrants.

Your essay can be the deciding factor in your college admission. Finding a topic that is meaningful to you will help you write an essay that is compelling and memorable.

Make your essay stand out in the submission pile. Whether you want to write a persuasive piece or a personal statement, you need to do research and know your topic. Don’t wait to get started. The summer will fly by. The next school year will begin and you will get really busy.

There will be college applications to fill out, sports games to play, homework to do and friends to see.

Write your essay now, before the pressure mounts.

I’m happy to help you get the wheels rolling.

Just click!