Throughout the late summer, fall, and winter, Options’ Writing Coaches spend most of their time helping students with their university application essays. This happens through Supplement Writing Workshops; in these 3-hour group sessions, students have the opportunity to work on their essays and receive real-time feedback. In addition to Workshop, Options offers weekly one-on-one sessions with a Writing Coach; what can you expect from these individual meetings?
Get ready to brainstorm!
Before any writing can happen, a lot of brainstorming is necessary! In the first session, the student will compile a list of all the extra-curricular activities they’ve been involved with since grade 9. Beyond your organized extra-curriculars, your Coach will ask you a series of questions about the hobbies you enjoy, what your family is like, how you spend your summers—basically, who are you? Your parents, siblings, and friends are also a great resource during this stage.
Which stories best highlight who you are?
Once you’ve come up with a list of your activities, hobbies, events, and passions, it’s time to start puzzle-piecing them into the prompts. Which story works best to describe an obstacle? Which extra-curricular activity best highlights your passions? Your Coach will guide you towards the stories that contribute to a holistic picture of you. For example, students should avoid only writing about their hockey teams or their theatre performances—don’t forget about the other things that make you you.
Write, edit, re-write.
In the first session, you might only do brainstorming; you might complete some essay outlines; or you might write an entire first draft! Each student’s process is different, and your Coach will meet you where you are. (Of course, if the application is due tomorrow, we’ll make sure to hurry you along, but please don’t do this!) Between sessions, you can expect your Coach to ask you to do some writing. Then, you’ll work together to edit your work until your essay reflects your best work.
Writing these supplemental essays is a process. It takes time, and our best ideas usually aren’t our first ideas. Be prepared for multiple drafts. Start early. As a Writing Coach, I love this time of year because supporting students as they translate their stories into writing is my favourite part of my job.