Craft your story. Guided by an experienced Apogee leader and our master writing instructor, this focused college essay writing program – limited to 12 rising seniors – provides a unique opportunity to create and hone your college essay in a supportive online community. In order to present your best self through your essay, you’ll workshop writing strategies and learn what it takes to make an application really stand out. To keep the creativity flowing, your group will take breaks from the process to play the occasional game, to connect one-on-one with a daily buddy, and to reflect on each day together. By week’s end, in addition to having a well-developed college essay, you’ll have a great new community of friends.
Program Nuts & Bolts
● The Virtual Maine Coast College Essay program (VMCCE) will meet over Zoom from 10:30 AM to 2:30
PM (Eastern Time), with an hour-long break from noon to 1 PM.
● On four of the nine days, there will be an hour-long meeting in the evening for idea sharing and group bonding
● There will be two “writing days” with no organized online meeting that will allow students additional time to
work on their drafts.
● There will be a minimum of six students on each session, with a maximum of twelve students.
● As is the case with our in-person Maine Coast College Essay, each VMCCE student will have three individual writing conferences with our master instructor over the course of the trip.
● The VMCCE program follows the same essay-drafting curriculum of our in-person MCCE program.
● An experienced Apogee Trip Leader will lead group bonding activities, facilitate conversations surrounding the
college application process, and provide feedback to students on their essays.
● Our Master Writing Instructor, Colin Cheney, will lead group workshops on essay development, and will work
with students in individual writing conferences to help students develop their ideas and hone their essay writing
skills. A bio of Colin can be found HERE.
● Kathryn Stegeman, an Associate Dean of Admissions at Bowdoin College, will lead a group workshop on interview skills and what makes a successful college essay.
Day 1: Day 1 is all about introductions. We’ll all log on as strangers, but by the end of the day, we’ll have planted the seeds that will make our Apogee family come together. We’ll laugh, play games, and begin to get comfortable with one another as we cover all sorts of subjects, some college-related, and some decidedly not.
Days 2-4: Over the course of the next three days, our master writing instructor, Colin Cheney, will guide us as we develop our topic ideas into fleshed-out, personal stories about ourselves. Colin’s guidance will give us the tools to think outside the box to create a successful college essay that shows admissions officers who we really are. By the end of Day 4’s workshop, we’ll have our topic selected, a robust outline created, and we’ll be ready to crank out our first drafts!
Day 5: Today’s focus is on the admissions process at-large, as we meet with Kathryn Stegeman, an Associate Dean of Admissions at Bowdoin College. Kat, a seasoned admissions professional, will use examples to show us what makes a successful college essay stand out from hundreds of others. She’ll also give us some tips and tricks for navigating college interviews. After our workshop, we’ll each have our first writing conference with Colin, where he’ll give us individualized advice and guidance on our outlines.
Days 6-8: After five days of workshops, group discussions, and lots of games and laughter, we’ll take two of the next three days to focus on writing our drafts, with no morning Zoom meeting. We’ll still get together briefly on those days to share our thoughts on the day and catch up with our buddies, but we’ll have a chance to catch our breath a bit and put some time into crafting our essays. We’ll also have our final two writing conferences with Colin during this time, and we’ll spend one morning session peer editing, giving others valuable feedback while also inspiring ideas for our own writing.
Day 9: Today’s the day! After settling in with a fun game, we’ll share our final drafts with the group. We’ll marvel at how our ideas have developed from the small seedling we had on Day 1 into a full-blown essay! We’ll finish off our day with a final group reflection, and will marvel at how we’ve grown into the first-ever online Apogee family. We’ll exchange virtual hugs and will set off on our individual paths to college, linked by our nine days of VMCCE.
IMPORTANT NOTE ON WHETHER THIS PROGRAM IS RIGHT FOR YOU:
Without question, writing the college admission essay is a deeply personal experience – one that taps into an individual’s history in an effort to demonstrate a unique facet of the applicant. That process is no different for our MCCE students; they are digging deep into their well of experience to craft their own essays. That said, our program is designed to facilitate the creative process in a supportive, fun environment – one where the student will receive focused, individual feedback.
Because the essay-writing process is so individual and depends on a number of factors (e.g., writing skill and experience, ability to focus, and willingness to accept constructive feedback), we can’t guarantee that your child will emerge with the perfect essay (much less get into that “reach” school!). We can, however, promise a program that encourages individual reflection and creative risk-taking with regard to the college essay. We will provide a supportive and inclusive environment where peer support and mutual brainstorming are a part of every day. Additionally, our program provides students with individual attention from our Master Instructor, as well as a “toolbox” of skills to bring to the college essay and the entire admissions process.
The Apogee Touch
Community is a integral part of any Apogee program. And even though we’ve taken this program virtual, it doesn’t mean community is any less important. We’ll still work hard to mold an Apogee family where each group member gets to know everyone else. We’ll start each day with a fun group activity, and every day, each student will get a chance to have a one-on-one chat with a new “daily buddy.” Like on any other Apogee trip, we’ll finish off each day by reflecting on our “Apogees and Perigees” of the day. So while you may not be smelling the salty sea air of Maine, you’ll still have the most important part of the program: a community of peers with which to engage, reflect, and laugh, and the tools to create and hone a well-developed college admissions essay.
Please see our General FAQ page for many more frequently asked questions and answers!
Writing the college essay is an individual, subjective process, correct? Is this program right for my child?
Please read the important note above regarding whether MCCE is right for your child. Contact us any time for more specifics about the processes employed over the course of this program.
What will my child have to do in order to prepare for this program?
Prior to the program start, students are asked to brainstorm college essay ideas and review the 2020-2021 common application questions (which we will send to you ahead of time). We want each student to start the program with five workable topic ideas. Over the first couple of days, students will use these ideas to hone a strong essay.
What does a typical day on VMCCE look like?
As with any Apogee program, there really are no “typical” days, and our VMCCE is no exception, with schedules varying a bit from from day to day. That said, most days will begin with a workshop or “primary session” that focuses on the college essay. These sessions will run from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM ET (with a break in the middle for lunch). Each primary session will start with a fun ice-breaking activity led by our trip leader and then move into a mix of workshop time led by Colin or Kat and time spent in breakout groups sharing and brainstorming ideas. Starting on Day 5, we’ll schedule one-on-one writing conferences in the afternoon with Colin, and we’ll also start to gather for an hour each evening. At this point in the trip, we’ll be well into our drafts, so these evening sessions are a chance to share progress, ideas, and have a few laughs with each other as we all develop our own essays.
How is this different from your in-person MCCE program?
As far as the curriculum goes, it’s not different at all. Our master writing instructor will still be going through the same curriculum that he would on our in-person MCCE program, as will the college admissions professional. The main difference will be that students won’t be taking breaks to hike, kayak, cook, and explore coastal Maine together. Most importantly, and despite the fact that students won’t be spending their days in the same space, we still have plans to make this Virtual MCCE program a cohesive Apogee community.
My child is burnt-out after a semester of virtual learning, how will you engage them?
Our traditional Maine Coast College Essay program has always fed off of discussion and idea-sharing, rather than dry lectures. The same will be true of our VMCCE. The workshops will encourage students to participate and engage with each other in break-out groups and share ideas with the full group. Additionally, we’ve built in time for fun activities and reflection that will allow students to engage on subjects other than just the college essay and create an Apogee community where students will feel comfortable sharing their ideas.
Does my child need to attend every single group session?
No, we know that with a virtual program comes very different schedules for each of our students. Nonetheless, we strongly encourage every student to attend each of the sessions that they can. We believe our virtual program can be very impactful by both giving students tools to craft their college essay and providing a community to share ideas with, but both of these outcomes will be diminished if your child misses sessions.