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Columbia University's Pre-College Program Launches Pilot Writing Workshop

Think like a writer. Write like a college student. Read like an editor. 

This fall, Columbia University's Programs for High School Students launched a new pilot course. The Columbia Pre-College Online Writing Workshop is designed for 11th and 12th grade students who want to use the power of writing to develop their own personal voice and style. Through a combination of lectures, workshops, and tutorials, students will learn new writing techniques and develop the skills and confidence to publish their work. Students will explore each stage in the writing process—brainstorming, drafting, revising—and will receive in-depth feedback from the teaching team at each stage of the process.

Students will be introduced to the art and craft of writing three assignments: the college application essay, academic argument, and opinion piece. As they write each assignment, students will study the techniques writers use to achieve their purpose, whether that is to gain admission to a college or to enter and influence academic and public debates. A particular focus of the Workshop will be learning how to deploy the power of language, specific details and precise words, to craft beautiful, powerful sentences to appeal to and persuade readers.

The workshop will be taught by Nancy Sommers, Ed.D., an educator and academic who studies the writing development of college students. As principal investigator of the Harvard Study of Undergraduate Writing, she tracked the college writing experiences of 400 students from the Harvard Class of 2001 to understand the complex role writing plays in undergraduate education. For 20 years, Sommers led Harvard's Expository Writing Program, as the Sosland Chair in Expository Writing and as a senior lecturer. In addition to directing Harvard's college writing program, she established and directed the Harvard Writing Project, a cross-disciplinary writing program, and conducted a series of studies, sponsored by two Harvard presidents, to research Harvard's culture of undergraduate writing. 

An admissions committee will determine which students are accepted. This pilot program is offered as a service to our neighbors in the community and is free of charge.