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College Application Essay Writing Workshop

How to write an unforgettable college essay that reflects you

In this online workshop, high school students will practice and develop the skill of writing a college application essay. Students will brainstorm, draft, and revise a full-length college application essay by the conclusion of the workshop. Provided students attend all four sessions and complete the 1-2 hours of homework assigned each week, students can expect to leave the workshop with an essay that is ready or near-ready for submission. Together, we will investigate the central questions of application writing, including:

  • Who am I? As a student? As a writer?
  • What do I want out of my time in college?
  • Which of my experiences have most shaped who I am today, and why?
  • Where have I witnessed my ability to enact change in my community?

This workshop is for high school students at the beginning of their application writing process; all writers will start their essays from scratch. Our virtual classroom will function as a collaborative workshop, as well as an instructional space. 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. In order to create an open online writing community within the workshop, students will be asked to turn their Zoom cameras on.

Students will have the opportunity to join a generative collective of writers, to discuss their hopes and anxieties regarding the application process, and to connect firsthand with the UMass Amherst university level writing community. We will approach application writing both practically, and creatively: all students will leave with an essay they feel confident about, and will have also had the opportunity to challenge and hone their skills within the expansive personal writing genre.

Enrollment for this workshop is limited to give time for personalized attention. Questions? Email 

Workshop Format and Schedule

  • Section 1: July 9 - 18, 2024 | Live synchronous sessions will meet Tuesdays & Thursdays from 4:30 - 6pm (EST). 
  • Section 2: July 8 - 17, 2024 | Live synchronous sessions will meet Mondays & Wednesdays from 1:00 - 2:30pm (EST).

This workshop consists of 4 online synchronous meeting. In addition, participants should plan for 1-2 hours of asynchronous assignments per week. 


Students attending the online program are expected to attend all class sessions live in real time. In order to prioritize the health and well-being of participants, eligibility is restricted to applicants residing in time zones where class hours do not extend beyond midnight. Please use a time zone converter to check when class sessions will meet in your time zone. 


Section 1: Miranda Lutyens is an MA/PhD student in Composition and Rhetoric at UMass Amherst. She teaches College Writing and recently served as a Graduate Assistant Director in the Writing Program, where she mentored first-year teaching associates. Prior to coming to UMass, Miranda spent fifteen years teaching secondary English Language Arts, first in the Boston Public Schools and then at the American School of Lima, Peru. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and has two Master's in Education. Her research and practice interests include: leveraging the study of multilingualism for enacting social justice pedagogy; rhetorics of voice and the aural; and freewriting as reflective practice.  

Section 2: Peter Kent-Stoll is a PhD candidate in sociology at University of Massachusetts Amherst with ten years of research, writing, and teaching experience in both the social sciences and humanities. Currently, he is working as an instructor in the the Writing Program at UMass, where he works with first year students on personal narrative writing, research writing, and multimedia writing. He has worked previously as an instructor in sociology and as a language arts and math tutor for middle school and high school students. With his expertise in writing across different disciplines and genres, he enjoys working with students pursuing college and career tracks in STEM, the social sciences, and the humanities, and beyond in creatively articulating their life experiences, goals, unique perspectives and talents.