by Mel Wells
We’re excited to announce that our fall sessions of the College Essay Mentoring Project were great! As in previous years, we worked with students at Benson, Franklin, Madison, and Roosevelt High Schools, and this year added a second session at Madison and Roosevelt. Thus far, 197 students have worked with trained volunteer mentors on their college and scholarship application essays! (For comparison, last year we worked with 136.) We also trained and added 28 new volunteer mentors to our amazing roster. It is thanks to all 79 of this year’s participating mentors and their gift of time and attention that 100% of students said they would use their mentors’ feedback when revising their essay.
Here are a few highlights from students’ responses:
“[My mentor] asked a lot of questions that made me realize topics I could talk about to reveal who I am as a person and can integrate into my essays. [They] asked questions to open up my ideas and expand them.”
“[My mentor] was very interested in what I have to say. She really helped me reconstruct my whole essay and I’m so excited to make it better!”
“I feel that I am totally ready to revise and submit a more powerful essay.”
“Every suggestion was helpful and meaningful.”
“[My mentor] was easy to talk to. Discussions were interesting. It felt like talking to an old friend, or in this instance, and amazing stranger.”
“There was such great feedback, being able to connect and share stories, and help getting them onto the paper was such a good experience.”
“[My mentor] was incredibly patient and listened to my story. While my writing was important, she took time to focus on the subject.”
“Best essay revision process I’ve ever been in!”
As always, we want to recognize the invaluable partnership with teachers and librarians at each school: Ilsa Bruer at Benson; Sandra Childs at Franklin; Daniel Fredgant and Nancy Sullivan at Madison; and Keri Hughes, Betsy Tighe, and Catherine Theriault at Roosevelt; and Susie Bartley, now at Grant, who co-founded this project. We are dedicated to these sessions not only being helpful for students academically, but also to be a moment of positive conversation and engagement between strangers who would likely never interact otherwise. As one of our mentors said, “Talking to these teens restores my faith in humanity.” From what we’ve observed and experienced, this feeling is universal at these sessions. Thanks so much to everyone–volunteers, students, teachers–for being a part of this project.