If you’re an educator or event organizer for an institution, hosting an essay workshop for students in 2023 is a great way to cover several topics and share important information with students. . When students are preparing for college or graduate school, they’ll benefit from reviewing more than just standard essay formats, college essay introduction examples or understanding the importance of error-free work. While a college application may contain several components, a personal essay is an opportunity for each student to stand out, but it’s something that many students struggle with! An essay workshop, hosted by a professional service at your institution, can provide students with an exciting opportunity to learn and thrive when writing future essays!
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It doesn’t matter if you’ve got 10 students, 100, or even 1,000 who potentially interested in attending an essay workshop, there are plenty of ways you can organize and execute a successful essay workshop for students who plan to attend or already matriculated at your institution! Essay workshops for students can be organized internally or offered externally through university partnerships. If you’re unsure as to how many of your students would attend a workshop, you can consider explaining the benefits to students, and striving to make your workshop inclusive and enticing for all, even those who feel they’re already great essay writers. Essays are an inevitable portion of many post-secondary programs, and learning how to craft well-written personal essays, as well as how to write an effective statement of intent, and how to approach college essay topics can be overwhelming for students…and counselors/faculty! Nevertheless, this knowledge is required for most admissions processes, as well as in general for those students who are unsure of their future academic path. A workshop is a great, organized and exciting way to present valuable information to your students.
Interested in organizing essay workshops for your students? Partner with BeMo's university students benefits program. Students have access to top admissions experts and coaches who can provide free, unlimited academic support, including essay writing workshops. Learn more on our university partnerships page.
Why Essay Workshops Are Beneficial
- For most, essay skills are not inborn, but are learned through practice, and through acquiring proper guidance and feedback! Whether you’re a high school counselor or department head who is looking to host a workshop to help your students prepare for post-secondary, or, you’re in a position to host one at a college or university, know that many students will benefit from learning more about essays.
- Essays come in many shapes in sizes, and knowing how to properly structure and format an essay is a great life skill for your students to have, even if they aren’t sure if an undergraduate degree or any additional higher education is in their future. For students who are planning on attending an undergraduate program, or, who are currently attending one, essay workshops can help them understand admissions essays, and other essays that may be requested as a part of the admissions process to specific programs, such as nursing, law, medicine, and graduate school.
- Attending an essay workshop can help students organize their application process, and give them the necessary tools and confidence they need in order to craft a well-written, engaging admissions essay. Many may not have previously had the opportunity to access tools that are intended to help them perfect their essays, nor may they have had the chance to receive feedback, or even learn how to properly write a personal essay that speaks to their character and strengths, and appeals to the admissions teams.
Essay workshops are a great way to help students prepare for both academic and personal/admissions essays that they may be required to write in their near future. Being able to understand, with confidence, what makes a great personal essay, and how to structure and write a compelling essay in general, is an invaluable skill that students can utilize through their professional and academic careers.
Workshops can be organized in a variety of ways, and can cover a lot of material in a short period of time. Whether you’re hoping to host a 3-hour workshop, or, one that spans over several days and includes several learning activities, your students will have the opportunity to acquire essay-specific knowledge and put what they’ve learned to practice. Workshops can also be self paced and virtual, should you and your students find this to be more effective.
A huge benefit of workshops is that they can summarize and teach specific pointers and tips in a short period of time. If your workshop is to be about general essays, or, admissions essays, for example, you can opt to only include vital information and the best tips. Prior to the workshops, students may have only acquired essay writing knowledge through English classes, educational material or online tutorials that often contain a lot of additional information. In your workshop, you can be specific, and offer your students a lot of value.
Workshops are also beneficial because they can help in instances where the number of students requiring essay help is greater than the number of supports, that is, teachers, faculty, advisors or counselors. If your student-to-leader ratio isn’t the best, a workshop is a great, efficient and organized way to provide all students with tools, resources, and experiences when individualized attention and private counseling isn’t always an option. And, if you decide to hire a professional service, such as BeMo Academic Consulting, to supply materials and conduct your workshop, you’ll be able to rest-assured that your students will be learning vital information from experts who have helped thousands of students, and who focus on academic and admissions essays, interviews, and applications every day. Workshops are a unique learning experience that add tremendous value, as well as an element of excitement! Students will be eager to learn skills through a new form of delivery, whether you decide to host an online workshop, one in-person, or, have a combination of self-directed and collaborative activities. You may also opt to offer follow up activities and resources to keep student’s motivated through their writing experience, and this is another reason why a professional service can benefit students and organizers alike Should students require additional support and attention, it can be arranged through the company you hire to conduct your workshop—either as an extended portion of the workshop, or, for a discounted rate for those who attended the initial workshop.
Different Components of An Essay Workshop
As mentioned above, your workshop may be hosted on an afternoon for a few hours, online, or, over the span of several sessions and include online and in-person learning materials! Deciding how you’ll host your workshop, and how often (this could be a bi-annual event, for example) can depend on whether or not you’re a secondary or post-secondary institution, and how many students you have in attendance.
Components of an essay workshop can include:
Student can be welcomed with a light hearted ice breaker to get them excited! It doesn’t matter if your workshop is a virtual, self-paced workshop, or an in-person one with a crowd present. Opening with a story or testimonial, or even asking questions to the students to get them excited about learning how to improve their essay skills is a great way to get everybody excited about the workshop. Then, jumping into providing them with an agenda, as well as an overview of the workshop’s intended goals and outcomes is a good way to merge into the important content.
2. Encourage students to work with their strengths, and identify their weaknesses
It’s important to understand, and ensure your students understand, that the skills they already have should be utilized, but that they should strive to recognize their weaknesses and work with them. The purpose of a workshop is to improve a skill, and in this case, these will be skills specific to essay writing. You may have students attending who don’t understand how to format and write an essay whatsoever, but more than likely (especially with post-secondary) students will be looking to improve their skills for a particular type of essay, such as an admissions essay that is a mandatory component of their college or graduate school application..
Writing a personal essay is confusing for many, and quite daunting. There is no thesis or thorough analysis necessary, but, the essay still requires structure. When writing about their lives, their intent, or their passion for a particular program, many students struggle to tell their story in a way that is formatted well. Personal essays still require a clear introduction, body, and conclusion, with a key ‘point’ or takeaway, such as a defining moment or important quality that is meant to be the focus of the essay. Asking students to make note of what their strengths are, and what their biggest weaknesses, or, concerns are about their current essay writing ability is a good way to ease into this topic. Understanding what areas need improvement early-on will help students hone in on specific portions of your workshop, and will encourage self-awareness and criticism, which is necessary for writing a personal college essay.
3. Review how to structure and format an essay
Formatting and structuring essays well is crucial, so even if you feel your students may already understand how to format, workshops should always review styles, formats, best practices, and the structure of the essay. This can be reviewed through a presentation, and/or through a handout or another self-paced reading material that students can refer to later on when they’re writing their essay. In general, students should be taught that, when focussing on personal, professional essays, they should never add fancy formats or fonts, and should try to keep their spacing at either 1.5-2.0 so it’s legible. Additionally, students must always adhere to wordcounts. Most college admissions essays are about 500-600 words in length, however, students should always double check their instructions as this can vary! Sometimes, students struggle to sum up a detailed essay in less than 1000 words, so this is another reason workshops that focus specifically on essays and writing for an admissions team can be beneficial.
As far as structuring goes, for college admissions essays, students don’t have to adhere to the 5 paragraph ‘hamburger’ structure they may have been taught in high school, that is: Introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Students must have a clear hook/introduction, a clear intent behind their narrative, and a conclusion, but it certainly does not have to follow the 5-paragraph structure…especially with a word count of 500!
4. Review best practices, examples of great essays, and examples of what NOT to say
It’s important for students to see samples of great essays! Many workshops will include comparison exercises where students will get to view mediocre essays alongside excellent ones, and be encouraged to distinguish the key differences either on their own or with a small group in order to understand why one essay is markedly stronger than the other.
The purpose of this exercise isn’t to make students feel as though their writing is bad, but to show them how the right words, structure, format, and essay content can really tell a strong story and encourage them to adopt these best practices and skills. . This is what they’ll want to achieve when they send essays to admissions teams in the future—they’ll want to stand out as unique, and will want to be remembered as a strong candidate. However, some students struggle with telling the story they need to tell in an organized, concise manner.
It’s important that you emphasize that college admissions essays, whether for graduate, professional or undergraduate programs, are not the same as a cover letter, CV, or resume. Depending on how you want your workshop to be structured, it is possible to include some graduate school cover letter examples, or graduate school resume examples in an exercise to help students identify and understand the differences. Often, students will find themselves listing off their accomplishments, or reiterating information that is on their transcripts, and/or included in other admissions documents. In most cases, admissions essays are to be personal, and some may even include a specific prompt.
In order for students to identify the key moments in their lives or qualities they want to express in their essay, students can be asked to reflect on what events in their lives brought them to that exact moment, where they hope to go, what they hope to achieve, and why. Often, inspiration can be drawn from a single childhood event, a defining experience, or even a series of small interactions and moments that when combined, shaped the student to be who they are today! These things may include: experience with a sport or hobby that helped them become a leader or break their shyness, an experience with a mentor or role model, a time period in their life where many changes occurred, volunteering with the less fortunate, or at a hospital, to give back to the community, a course they took that changed their life and taught them some valuable lessons, like dramatic arts, or even growing up in a small, hardworking town with some remarkable friends and family!
Students should be encouraged to identify what story they want to tell, and do so in chronological order. And, they should be able to identify a few of their strongest traits—such as their collaboration skills and empathy for others—and draw on these throughout their narrative. The point of their essay is to tell a story that shows how they got to the position they’re in today, and how these great qualities of theirs, that will surely help them succeed academically and professionally, developed. To illustrate this point, you may even opt to utilize pop culture examples of ‘great character development’ from movies or a series, and ask students to identify the defining moments in a character’s life and note what traits and skills they acquire as a result.
It may feel unavoidable or tempting for students to ‘dump’ information into an essay, especially if they’ve had an eventful life, however, they should be encouraged to stick to only sharing necessary details, and opting to share ones with positive outcomes. It is absolutely okay for a student to include something like, “Watching my grandmother fiercely battle cancer for ten years made me not only appreciate the hard work of the nurses, doctors, surgeons, and caregivers involved, but also, respect and admire the strength of the patient, and the patient journey as a whole. My grandmother passed a few years ago, but she continues to inspire me. She is one of the reasons that I want to work in the medical field.” This may be a sad portion of the essay, but it ultimately had a positive outcome and is key in a student’s development. However, students should avoid adding in details of events that don’t directly impact their academic and career path, or, are too personal. Admissions teams don’t need to know about a crushing family divorce, a broken arm, or a difficult childhood phase, unless these events directly contributed toward the development of key qualities and inspiration the student currently has!
Overall, teaching students to keep their essays brief, concise, and flowing from points A, to B, to C is essential. A strong ‘hook’ of an introduction, followed by a great story and a conclusion that wraps it all up is what students should focus on. Encouraging students to check their spelling and grammar several times before submitted their essay is key, and even suggesting that they ask a trusted family member, teacher, or counselor to review their work is advised. Writing several drafts is a great way to achieve a fantastic final product! Lastly, students should be encouraged in the workshop to write in their own unique voice, and even use a bit of humor if they see fit! While they should not be overly casual, and should avoid bad language or abbreviations, students do not need to write in a serious or neutral tone.
5. Provide them with tips and the opportunity to practice and receive feedback
Offering your students any additional tips about essay writing, such as making several drafts, or talking breaks when they’re feeling writer’s block can help with normalizing the struggles of the writing process. This can put student’s minds at ease and help them work through their essay knowing that it’s normal to hit roadblocks, and that they will overcome any issues they face! Additionally, your workshop should include the opportunity for students to practice what they’re learned and write either a first draft of a college admissions essay or, a roadmap to their essay where they plan out their key development points and identify their traits they wish to discuss in the essay.
Giving feedback can be tricky if you have hundreds of students, so how you offer feedback can vary. You may wish to have a team of workshop volunteers, comprised of other faculty or teaching assistants, who will be able to review each student submission. Additionally, hiring a professional service can help ensure students receive the appropriate amount of feedback and support as well. For larger groups, you may opt to do a self-assessment with a grading rubric, and with the information they’ve acquired throughout the workshop. . The goal with feedback isn’t to discourage what the student has written, nor is it to ‘get it right’ the first time! Essays require practice, patience, and a lot of planning. During every step of the writing process, students should learn to understand what is valuable and useful on their page, and what needs to be edited or removed in order to keep the essay on-track.
6. Hire a consulting service to help organize and execute the best essay workshop for your students
While it may seem like a do-able undertaking, facilitating an essay workshop for several students requires a significant amount of preparation and expertise…and your job wouldn’t stop once your workshop was organized, either! Students require ongoing support, feedback, and encouragement, and this can be overwhelming for one or two organizers. That’s why hiring an academic consulting service, such as BeMo Academic Consulting, is a great idea if you’re looking to provide your students with valuable information and support from professionals. BeMo has helped thousands of students understand and write admissions essays, and prepare for academic interviews, exams, and application processes. If you’ve got an idea or inspiration for a workshop in mind, BeMo can certainly help you execute it and provide your students with the knowledge, skills, and feedback they require for a successful academic and professional career! And, if there are students who are seeking additional support, you may opt to invite them to another workshop, or suggest they further explore preparatory services like BeMo. BeMo can help students further understand the admissions process, and can offer 1-on-1 consulting and in-depth essay support for students who require it.
1. Why are essay skills important for students to learn?
Being able to write a great essay, especially a personal one that may be required for college admissions, is an invaluable skill and can help students in their academic careers, as well as their professional ones. Essay skills require a lot of practice, patience, and planning. Even if students have written essays in their high school career, the structure and purpose of admissions essays are quite different.
2. What is an essay workshop?
An essay workshop provides students with the experience to learn about what skills are required in order to comprise a great essay, and what information admissions teams are looking for. Workshops can be hosted for 10 students or 500 students, they can consist of presentations, handouts, and activities, such as listing their own skills, scoring others’, and partaking in mock exercises with their peers. Alternatively, workshops may be self-paced or entirely online. Either way, workshops offer an exciting learning opportunity that can help students further develop and enhance great essay writing skills in a short period of time! Many institutions opt to hire consulting services, such as BeMo Academic Consulting, to conduct their workshops to allow students access to valuable information and tips from proven professionals.
3. What kind of students can benefit from attending an essay workshop?
In general, most students will benefit to some degree! However, essay skills workshops that focus on college admission essays are typically best for either grade 11 and 12 students looking to apply to college in the near future, or, undergraduate students who are looking forward to applying to a graduate or professional program to further their education.
4. Does an essay workshop cost anything to host?
As noted, many institutions opt to hire services like BeMo to conduct their workshops, and this means individual costs may vary by school. However, there are always discounts and packages available for institutions who decide to conduct several workshops, or make additional services from BeMo accessible to their students!
5. What should be covered in an essay workshop for students?
Your workshop can cover any number of topics, and can include insight from a professional team, should you hire one. In general, many workshops tend to follow a schedule/outline similar to this one:
- Welcome/ overview of what will be covered
- Discuss strengths and weaknesses students currently have as they pertain to essays
- Talk about the goal of the essay, this is a great time to touch on ‘character development’ to illustrate the point and encourage students to understand their own development before they write
- Structure and formatting do’s and don’ts
- Writing style, word count and spelling
- What not to include in an essay, including examples of other types of writing or poorly written essays
- Offer time to practice and/or a feedback exercise, and give additional resources to keep students motivated and supported through their future essay writing process
6. Can students learn this information on their own?
They could... but it wouldn't be the same as attending a workshop! Students do learn how to write essays in high school, and this information could be searched online, but many students benefit from a personalized touch and learning experience! Furthermore, college essays are a professional form of writing and do not typically follow the 'hamburger', or, '5 paragraph' structure students are taught when they are young. So, although students could search for this information online or watch a video tutorial, an organized workshop provides an exciting opportunity for students to learn, within a few hours, all that they need to know about college essays, and even have the opportunity to put what they've learned into practice.
7. What happens if a student is struggling with a component of the workshop?
Despite their willingness, some students may struggle with writing, or personal writing! That is why encouraging students to identify their own strengths and weaknesses before writing can be beneficial, as can providing feedback (or, the opportunity to structured peer feedback). Additionally, some students may struggle with writing altogether, and this is why it’s important to put an emphasis on key ‘must have’s’, such as a clear structure and format, stress that students adhere to wordcounts, and try to reiterate the importance of writing several drafts, and writing an organized story with details that aren’t included on their resume, transcript, or CV.
8. What additional resources can help students prepare for academic interviews?
It’s common for schools and other institutions conducting workshops for students to hire a professional service or team to conduct their workshop for them. Often, this means that a company comprised of academic experts will take the reigns and conduct the workshop—or, supply the appropriate materials, outlines and additional resources to the staff conducting it! This is a great way to ensure that students are only being taught the best, most concise information available that is relevant to their current essay writing needs and can help enhance their skills. If there are students who are seeking additional support after the workshop you may opt to invite them to another workshop, or suggest preparatory services, such as BeMo Academic Consulting BeMo can help students further organize their applications for college or graduate school/professional school and give them more individualized attention that can help them better understand what is expected of their application and essays.
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