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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

College Application Bootcamp

The College Application Bootcamp is a comprehensive week-long intensive dedicated to understanding and preparing for the college application process. A range of key topics will be covered, including an exploration of personal strengths and interests; college majors and career paths; admissions strategy; essay writing; and standardized test prep. Students will also tour UMass Amherst and other local colleges in the Amherst area, and experience campus life while living in a residence hall and enjoying award-winning meals from UMass Dining.

The bootcamp consists of four modules:

College Majors and Career Paths: Each morning will begin with identifying personal interests and goals through guided exercises and activities. Students will utilize a powerful self-assessment tool to assess their own personal strengths, values, and beliefs; develop self-awareness of their unique talents and abilities; explore possible academic majors and career pathways; and make new connections with other students.

Navigating the Application Process: Students will learn how to present themselves to colleges that are a good fit and gain tools to develop a balanced, well-matched list of prospective colleges based on their performance and preferences. Topics will include: an overview of the college application process; factors considered by college admissions officers; building a college list; and practice interviewing and drafting the activities section on the Common Application.

Writing the College Application Essay: Students will brainstorm, draft, and revise a full-length college application essay. Students will routinely read and analyze each other's work, as well as personal essays by published authors. Together, we will grow comfortable with: (1) the conventions of application writing, (2) vulnerably sharing our stories, and (3) a rigorous revision process involving peer review and instructor feedback.

SAT & ACT Test Prep: Students will learn what content to expect on each test, strategies for every section, insider tricks and tips to maximize their scores, how to avoid the most common careless errors, and test-day stress management. We will also detail the differences between the SAT and ACT to help students decide which test best fits their learning style. Students who have already taken the SAT or ACT may choose to opt out of this module.

This workshop is offered by the University Without Walls office of Pre-College Programs, and is not affiliated with UMass Amherst Undergraduate Admissions. 


In your statement of interest, please describe your goals for college and what you hope to get out of the bootcamp.

Only a statement of interest and unofficial high school transcript are required to apply for the bootcamp. No letter of recommendation is necessary (a placeholder PDF may be uploaded in this space).



Karen Miller, M.Ed., brings over 25 years of experience as an educator, leader, and career trainer. Her work has focused on leadership development, positive psychology, and building community partnerships. She has provided professional career advising and instruction support to individuals of all ages. She is currently a Lecturer at UMass Amherst, teaching a professional development course called SOC BEHV 250: College to Careers. She is a Gallup-Certified CliftonStrengths coach who enjoys working with individuals and organizations to help them collectively and individually discover and maximize their talents for greater team engagement, performance, and improved outcomes. Karen has studied with the School for International Training in Kenya, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Stonehill College, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration and an Ed.S. in Higher Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

Sallie Langston Batchelor, M.A., has been an independent educational consultant for nine years.  Before creating her solo practice, she worked in undergraduate admissions at Princeton University, the University of Chicago, and Amherst College. Sallie has also worked on the other side of the desk in college admissions counseling at Phillips Academy Andover and Deerfield Academy.

Sallie enjoys meeting students wherever they are on their journey to college, encouraging them to be their authentic selves, helping them find colleges that will be the best fit, and providing support and counsel throughout the process.  

Sallie earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Princeton University and her master’s degree in the social sciences from the University of Chicago. Sallie is a professional member of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association).

Jade Yeen Onn, M.A., is a College Writing instructor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who also works as a Writing Associate at the Amherst College Writing Center. In both roles, she enjoys learning from various fields through her students’ unique perspectives while helping them develop transferable critical reading and writing skills. She is currently pursuing her PhD in English with a specialization in Composition and Rhetoric at UMass Amherst. 

Brian Leaf, M.A., is the bestselling author of ten SAT/ACT prep books, including the McGraw-Hill’s Top 50 Skills series, now in its third edition. Brian is Director of the New Leaf Learning Center in Massachusetts, and has provided SAT, ACT, GED, SSAT, and GRE preparation to thousands of students.