The College Application Essay: Telling Your Unique Story in 650 Words

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
July 26, 2021 - August 11, 20217/26 - 8/112 WeeksOnlineWaitlistedOnlineRachel Toncelli

Course Description

Preparing your college application essay can feel like a daunting task. In just 650 words, how can you tell an admissions team a memorable story about you? This course focuses on developing skills in the art of written storytelling as well as the power of concise, organized language through analysis of American rhetorical patterns and development of targeted language structures. In addition to numerous writing and feedback exercises, students will engage in a comprehensive exercise which puts them in the role of admissions team analyzing sample essays to consider what schools value and what makes a story stick. They will also develop and workshop one complete draft to a common college essay prompt. Students will complete the course with enhanced writing skills and awareness of cultural communication expectations common to American universities.  

While the goal of this course is the development of a college application essay, students will develop general writing skills which will serve them well for future American academic contexts. This course is offered online through a combination of dynamic and varied asynchronous interaction as well as two synchronous sessions per week. The course instructor has over 20 years experience working with English learners and international students at the university level. As the former Director of English Language Learning at Brown University, she has helped numerous students make a smooth transition into college classroom dynamics.

During this course, students will:
• Develop awareness of rhetorical styles common to American academic writing, with a particular focus on the art and elements of engaging storytelling
• Develop an understanding of individual personal style and generating and maintaining audience interest in writing
• Hone their ability to participate and to give and receive constructive feedback
• Workshop and constructively critique their own and their classmates' written assignments
• Develop an understanding of American academic writing style and practice concise written responses in this style
• Complete numerous writing exercises, and will elaborate upon one complete college application essay draft

Prerequisites: Pre-college students who are interested in improving their ability to develop a college application essay that tells their own unique story should consider applying. Students interested in enhancing grammatical and rhetorical writing skills, particularly those looking to better understand communicative styles more common to the American classroom, are encouraged to enroll. Intermediate to advanced fluency in English is required for participation. Students need access to a webcam and microphone to participate.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEEL1013

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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