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The College Essay Workshop

Conducted by Cassie Nichols

This 3-part event includes a Saturday workshop, a private meeting, and a comprehensive college essay review.

For many students, the most daunting part of the entire application process is the college essay. This is completely understandable. The best college essays are intensely personal, and the pressure students feel to make theirs compelling and memorable can be overwhelming.

With so much anxiety and confusion surrounding the college essay, it’s no wonder students put it off as long as possible. Summer comes and goes, and school begins, and then they start thinking about the process of applying to college… and, finally, they start writing their essays.

In that sort of atmosphere, it’s easy to rush things. Yet if there’s one part of the college application that should never be rushed, it’s the essay.

Having a handful of completed essay drafts by the first day of school has always been one of my primary goals for my private clients, which means that over the last decade I have seen (over and over again) the difference between students who start early and those who don’t.

That’s why I am holding the College Essay Workshop this summer. Students who complete this workshop will have a solid draft of their main college essay by the end of June. They can then spend the rest of the summer tweaking and perfecting their draft, long before many students have even begun brainstorming their essay topic.

They’ll also have a plan for how to approach the UC essays, as well as the Common Application’s school-specific supplemental essays.


This event includes more than just the Saturday workshop: it also includes a private meeting and a comprehensive college essay review, as well as a free paperback copy of my book The College Essay Trap.

Here is a detailed breakdown of what each student receives:


Part 1: The Workshop

Saturday, June 22nd

The workshop is a day of face-to-face instruction, discussion, and interaction in the conference room of the College Specific office on State Street.

To ensure that every student gets the attention and guidance they need, this workshop is strictly limited to a maximum of 10 students.


Workshop Schedule

Morning Session – The Main College Essay (10 AM - 12 PM)

We begin the workshop with a discussion about what the main college essay is and what purpose it serves in the college admissions process, and how it is reviewed by admissions officers.

Next, we talk about what not to do when students write their main college essay, outlining common pitfalls regarding topic, phrasing, and overall tone.

We then move on to one of the most important parts of the essay-writing process: how to brainstorm and choose an essay topic that will result in a compelling essay.

We end the first session with a focus on how to structure the first draft.

Lunch - Food and Beverages Included - (12 PM - 1 PM)

Afternoon Session – Supplemental and UC Essays (1 PM - 3 PM)

We begin the second session with an overview of school-specific supplemental essays, focusing on the purpose they serve in the college application review process.

We discuss the best way to organize the many supplemental essays that students will write during application season.

We review the most common supplemental essay prompts and how to respond to them in a way that touches on all the points colleges are looking for.

We close the session with a look at the UC personal insight questions. We discuss how they differ from both the main college essay and the various supplemental essays, what UC readers are looking for when they review them, and how students should approach both their choice of topic and the writing of the essays themselves.

At the end of the workshop, each student schedules a private meeting with me during the following week.



The College Essay Trap

Workshop participants will also receive a complimentary copy of my book The College Essay Trap, which will help them understand and avoid the most common mistakes students make when writing their college essays.


"A remarkably useful short book to read and keep handy. The College Essay Trap offers as nifty and insightful a set of advice as I’ve come across. As someone who has read tens of thousands of such essays over the years, I found myself nodding in strong agreement with each ‘trap’ [Nichols] describes and how best to avoid it."

Part 2: Private Meeting

(between June 24th and June 28th)

During our private meeting, I will provide the student with personalized guidance on their college essay, wherever they are in the writing process. Depending on the status of the student’s essay, this can be anything from evaluating choice of topic to exploring different paths of execution to fleshing out a new direction or idea. Some students will be further along in the process than others, but regardless of how much they have accomplished since the workshop, this meeting will help ensure that they are on track with their essay.

Part 3: Comprehensive College Essay Review

(prior to August 15th)

After the workshop and the meeting, the student can take their time crafting their main college essay. Once they have a draft they’re happy with, they will send me their essay via email. I will review their writing in detail, focusing on how it will look to a college admissions officer, and I will provide detailed notes and suggestions for further revisions (if necessary). The student has until August 15th to send me their draft for review, and I will return it to them within three business days. Note: the Comprehensive College Essay Review is intended for ONE draft of the main college essay.

Between the workshop, the private meeting, and the comprehensive review, students will be well on their way to completing a collection of college essays that will help them stand out among a crowded field of applicants. Just as importantly, having their essays completed over the summer will enable them to approach the rest of the application process with enthusiasm and confidence.

This Event is Limited to 10 Participants - Reserve Your Spot Now

To ensure that each student receives the attention they deserve, there are only 10 spots available for this workshop. If you are interested in this workshop, please reserve your spot as soon as possible.

Cassie Nichols has been teaching the college essay since 2004. She is the director of College Specific, which she founded in 2010, and the author of The College Essay Trap, a book that helps students avoid the most common pitfalls when writing their college essays.

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