College Access Workshops

…by some estimates, half of all high-achieving low- and middle-income students have not even been applying to top colleges — largely because they believe they can’t afford it, doubt they’ll be accepted, or aren’t even aware of their options.  As a result, they often lose out — and so do colleges that would benefit from their talents and diverse perspectives.  Our country loses out too.

Michael Bloomberg, “More Aid for College Students,” New York Times, 19 November 2018

College Horizons/Access Workshop | 29 June

Fat envelopes/thin envelopes/test prep/extracurriculars/early decision/regular decision/fly-ins/FAFSAs/sticker price/discounted price— no one can take the stress out of applying to college.  But what we can do is help Wonderworks’ rising 11th and 12th grade students and their parents be more knowledgeable and clearer-eyed about what the options are and, beyond that, how to go about putting together a game plan that takes advantage of individual strengths and the wide array of colleges and universities from which to choose and be chosen.  This all-day program of presentations by counselors and admissions experts, followed by question and answer sessions, will help you begin to unravel the possibilities and complexities of the admissions process and its financial components too.  But this is only a start, since the process itself is more like a marathon than a sprint, though the finish line is always closer than you think.

The workshop is a first step to both expanding your frame of reference and developing a balanced strategy aligned with your talents and interests, one that combines the aspirational with the more readily attainable. It’s also very important to be aware that you may end up changing your major at some time during your college career — more than a third of all students change majors at least once.  So it’s a very good idea to make sure that the colleges and/or universities you apply to have an ample and well-regarded range of fields to accommodate any eventual change of majors. Many very successful people have changed majors — Rachel Carson (English to biology, Chatham), Michael Bloomberg (physics to electrical engineering, Johns Hopkins); Jill Lepore (math to English, Tufts); Frank Gehry (art to architecture, USC), to name a few who became stars after college.  Looking ahead, you should position yourself to potentially change directions too — not that you will, but then again who knows?

Successful outcomes involve good scouting, sound planning, and lots of follow-through, not to mention teamwork with your parents, teachers, and counselors.  The College Horizons/Access Workshop is a good place to start, particularly when combined with the College Essay Workshop.

Sixth Annual College Essay Workshop | 15 – 19 July

The college essay is the one chance most users of the Common Application have to give admissions committees a sense of their own voice, personality, circumstances, and potentials, apart from the clues standardized tests, coursework, and grades provide, even when supplemented by the third-person testimonials of teachers and counselors.  These essays have not only spawned a cottage industry of coaches and consultants, they’ve also become a genre unto themselves, specimen examples of which are published in The New York Times annually, copiously anthologized, and even posted on the websites of some of the most selective colleges and universities nationwide.

Increasingly, admissions committees tend to be looking for “chemistry” when assembling freshman classes, so they may search for signs of “valence” in your essay.  While there’s no way to outguess them, the essay is an important, possibly game-changing, opportunity to put your best self and sensibility forward.  Properly understood, a college essay should be something you and only you could have written.  It should be familiar in style rather than stiff and formal, as though you were telling it in a relaxed but focused way to a somewhat older friend.  It should be interesting and, ideally, memorable for all the right reasons.

Over a period of five consecutive days, you will go through several drafts of an essay addressing one of the seven 2019-20 Common Application prompts, with the help of our faculty of experienced college-level English and creative writing instructors.  You will be expected to write outside of class as well as during it, and may also have the opportunity to deal with one supplemental question, if time permits.

This workshop is available free of charge and exclusively to rising twelfth-grade students who have satisfactorily completed any Wonderworks pre-college program.