The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a typical day at the Juniper Institute for Young Writers look like?

A typical day at Juniper is centered around activities related to “the writer’s life.” Young writers work on developing their own writing in workshop, craft, and studio sessions. In addition to these courses, young writers attend readings and Q&As by visiting poets and writers. For more information about each of these, check out our Curriculum. Young writers have their meals at UMass’ award winning dining facilities.

In the evening, Program Assistants facilitate activities on campus. Activities may include anything from “literary salon” discussions to open-mic readings. This is also an opportunity for participants to read and write, build lasting friendships, or experience language “off the page.” In the past, participants have also used their evening free time to share their writing informally with their peers and PAs. We enforce a mandatory curfew of 10 p.m.

The staff, instructors, and administrators of the Juniper Institute are all writers themselves, committed to supporting participants as they experience all that Juniper has to offer. The curriculum is designed to keep young writers actively immersed in writing craft, community building, and exploration. Furthermore, Juniper takes place at UMass Amherst, providing participants with an opportunity to experience a college campus and gain valuable insight about campus living and community.

What can I expect to happen in a workshop? What is expected of me?

The workshops are designed to help young writers gain insight into their own creative process and explore the possibilities of writing in various genres. Workshops are an open community in which the members can share, discuss, and receive feedback on their work. Exposure to the work of our peers is enormously helpful and rewarding during the writing process. The specific style and parameters of each workshop will be determined by the workshop leader, but a few basic expectations are consistent for all groups:

Each participant is responsible for sharing his or her creative work and for giving thoughtful feedback on the work of others. Participants can also expect exposure to a variety of genres and forms through reading, writing, collaborative work, performance—the outlets of creative expression at Juniper are numerous and plentiful. The goal is to learn from a wide range of writing styles and approaches, and to continually explore the craft of writing. Workshops are based upon an understanding of and respect for each other as writers and as individuals; during workshops it is of the utmost importance that participants treat others’ work as they hope their own will be treated—with care, attention, and thoughtfulness.

What kind of writers are you looking for?

We are looking for dedicated young writers interested in: exploring and advancing their craft; participating enthusiastically in a community devoted to writing; and discovering the experiences and resources that a college campus can offer. We particularly seek those who would benefit most from the Institute setting: one of intense focus, creative curiosity, community-building, and exposure to many writing styles. Each participant is an essential part of the Institute experience and is relied upon to share their own unique perspective and voice as we create an environment that both supports and challenges its members to reach new artistic heights.

What kind of accommodation is offered?

Participants stay in a designated University residence hall. In the residence hall, each participant will live in an air-conditioned suite with one roommate, two suitemates, two bathrooms and a shared common area. Program Assistants are housed on each floor, as well as Juniper Residence Hall Directors, who are on duty 24 hours a day. The residence hall is also staffed around the clock by University Housing personnel. The cost of a shared room is included in the cost of tuition.

What happens if I do not get a scholarship?

Please note that, unfortunately, we are not able to fund all deserving scholarship applications we receive. In the past, some students not awarded scholarships have been able to attend the Institute by finding other sources of funding. Some high schools and community organizations will provide financial support to students wishing to attend summer programs. We encourage you to work with your guidance counselor or teacher to seek out alternative sources of funding as soon as possible, even before you hear back from us about a scholarship.

What kind of supervision does Juniper provide?

The Juniper Institute for Young Writers is a creative academic program for mature, self-motivated high-school writers. The Institute provides direct supervision during the following scheduled activities: workshops, Q&As, craft sessions, studio sessions, readings, and field trips. During free time and evening activities, participants may choose whether to engage with the group or spend their time independently. All participants must abide by the mandatory curfew each night, which is 10 p.m.

Participants are assigned a “pod” and accompanying Program Assistant (PA) who acts as their main point of contact/supervision for the week. Two Residence Hall Directors live in the residence hall all week and are on-call at all times. The Residence Hall Directors are trained members of the UMass Res-Life program and offer support, guidance, medication administration, and supervision.

How and when do I get to Amherst? Am I responsible for making my own travel plans?

Participants are responsible for arranging and paying for their own travel arrangements, including shuttles to and from Bradley International Airport. That said, we are happy to answer questions about the area and best travel options. It’s worth noting that Amherst is a small town! We recommend you make all reservations, including shuttle and taxi services, well in advance of your arrival.

The Institute begins on Sunday, July 21st. Please arrive between 9:00 am and 11:00 am to check into your room in the residence hall and meet with our on-duty nurse. At noon, parents are invited to enjoy lunch with the participants in the dining hall. Participants are officially welcomed to campus and given a tour at 3:30 p.m.

For full travel information, see Getting to Campus.