by Mel Wells

Our fifth year of the College Essay Mentoring Project was a great success! We had 29 new mentors get trained and join our ranks, and 60 experienced mentors return from previous years, for a total of 89 awesome volunteers! With their help, we served 112 students from Benson, Franklin, Madison, and Roosevelt High Schools with individual attention on their college and scholarship essays! (For comparison, we served 67 students last year with this project.) And 100% of students this year said they would use their mentors’ feedback when revising their essay.

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When we asked students for areas they needed help in, grammar and structure were their top concerns, followed closely by brainstorming new ideas, adding vivid/personal details, using active voice, and consolidating for tight word counts. Here are some highlights from student feedback:

“We really had fun during the process of going over the pieces of writing. We shared similar things and good conversations on topics in my essay. I feel like I got the help I needed for my writing.” (RHS)

“They helped me to try and connect my broad ideas to one point of focus and they took the time to understand me.” (FHS)

“My mentor helped me outline my essay, brainstorm, and gave great ideas which I am very thankful for.” (MHS)

“She helped me edit my essay not just grammatically but also offered me insight on how to expand and strengthen it. She highlighted what I did well, as well as constructively criticized what I need to work on.” (BHS)

“My mentor was most helpful when they listed and noted the important events/things in my life–told me what didn’t need to be in the essay and areas I needed to explain more.” (MHS)

“They really took my ideas as well as theirs and helped make my essays better to read. And they were really NICE!” (RHS)

“My mentor actually helped me dive into my ideas and helped me map out my essay.” (BHS)

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We want to give a huge thanks to each of our volunteer mentors, and to the teachers and librarians at each school: Ilsa Bruer, Dave Mylet, and Library Assistant Irma Johnson at Benson; Susie Bartley (who helped start it all!), Sandra Childs, and Holly Vaughn Edwards at Franklin; Daniel Fredgant and Nancy Sullivan at Madison; and Keri Hughes and Catherine Theriault at Roosevelt. We simply couldn’t do this work without everyone’s help!

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WITS College Essay Mentoring Project 2014