College App Essay: Long Answer


College App Essay: Long Answer for Summer 2024

Teacher: Maya Inspektor

Email: minspektor@gmail.com

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Note: Check below to see the dates for each workshop! Mrs. Inspektor's section of each workshop is now full, but some space remains in Ms. Pochily's sections. 

This online workshop is designed to help students produce a top essay in response to a 2023-24 Common Application essay prompt (or other long-form college application essay prompt, such as the Coalition application, Questbridge applications, National Merit application essays, or UCAS personal statements). Students should emerge from this workshop with an essay that they can actually use when they apply to colleges in the fall! At the same time, they should also develop the skills they need to craft responses to other application essay prompts in the future. 

This workshop is aimed at homeschooled students who will be seniors in the fall of 2021. Students who wish to prepare more than one admissions essay are welcome to register for more than one workshop. 

We'll cover the following topics:

  1. The rhetoric of college applications. What is the purpose of these essays? What do admissions officers spend their days reading, and what do they dream of reading? What kind of persona should you convey, and what pitfalls should you avoid? What unique benefits and risks come with being a homeschooled applicant?

  2. How to strengthen writing while cutting words. The Common App essays have a tight 650-word recommended length, which is a good thing: most essays can become more vibrant when words are cut. I'll help you learn to choose specifics over generalities, streamline syntax, polish grammar, and write with power.

  3. How you can shine through your essays. My main goal for this workshop is to help you bring your voice through your essays, while also helping you figure out what aspects of your experiences and personality will be most appealing to admissions officers. I want you to emerge with an essay that sounds like you-- and that makes you sound irresistible!

The workshop will involve a fair amount of interaction with classmates, as students give each other feedback on their essay drafts and ideas. Your instructor will give you extensive, tough, specific, and encouraging feedback on at least three drafts of your essay. If you choose to revise your essay further after the class is over, you instructor will be happy to comment briefly on further drafts. This is not a graded “class” and will not appear anywhere on an official transcript. I'm sure your goal is the same as mine: to emerge from the workshop with the best essay you can write, as well as the tools to write any other essays the application process demands. We're happy to accommodate students' busy schedules or absences. 

What makes me the most proud is the uniqueness of each essay that comes out of my workshop. We won't write your essay for you; We'll try to help YOU write the best essay you have in you.


Who should apply: Rising seniors who will be applying to college in the fall using the Common App or another long-form essay style! 

Workshop cost: $200


Frequently Asked Questions:

When can I register for this workshop? We should open registration on February 1st, 2024. We plan to offer this workshop every summer, and registration will always open February 1st, with this course description updated in January. 

What time does this class meet? While this workshop is highly interactive, none of this interaction is live. Instead, students will read daily instructional messages and interact with classmates by responding to their essay drafts or instructional message responses. Instructors will provide extensive written feedback on each essay draft. Students should be prepared to complete work every weekday, but they do not need to be available at any particular time of day. 

Should I take the short answer workshop or the Common App workshop first? Mrs. Inspektor also offers a separate workshop focused on short-answer college application questions (350 words or less), such as the questions asked by the UC California system or the supplemental questions required by many schools in addition to the Common App essay. While we will talk briefly about short answer responses in this Common App workshop, many students take both workshops and want to know which one they should take first. The answer: it depends! 

  • If you plan to work on the University of California essays (or other stand-alone short answer essays, such as the MIT prompts) in the short essay workshop, I suggest taking the short essay workshop first. This is because you will explore multiple topics as you write the UC essays, each of which might turn into a strong Common App essay, so the short answer workshop will make you more prepared to write a strong Common App essay. 
  • If you plan to primarily apply to Common App schools and want to work on supplemental essays in the short essay workshop, I suggest taking the Common App workshop first. That way, you can write your supplemental essays with your Common App essay focus in mind, so that you complement that essay instead of repeating details. 

I only want to take one workshop. Which one should I take? If you are applying primarily to Common App schools, I suggest you take this workshop instead of the short answer workshop. During the final week of the workshop, we'll talk about how to answer short-answer questions-- supplemental short answer questions are easier to answer than the primary Common App question, so the skills you learn here should make the short answer questions easy.  

Can I take both workshops at the same time? While you can, I don't recommend this. It's much better to focus on one essay genre at a time.

If I take both workshops, should I choose the same instructor for both? Yes, if possible! That way, your instructor will get to know you quite well during the course of the summer and can help you make all parts of your applications work together. (Mrs. Inspektor is the head instructor for all workshops, but the instructor you choose when you register-- either Mrs. Inspektor or Ms. Pochily-- will be responding to all drafts of your work.)  

I want to apply to military academies. Which workshop should I choose? That's a tricky question. Military academies want to see focused responses more like "short answer" essay format, but they also expect a more complete narrative like a "Common App" essay. Either workshop should work well for you!

How do I know whether my first-choice schools accept the Common App? You can check the websites for your first-choice colleges, or you can search the list of Common App schools here: https://www.commonapp.org/explore/ Many colleges that don't officially accept the Common App still ask for responses to similar prompts, so you may be able to use your Common App essay for non-Common App colleges. 

Do I have to fill out an application to join this workshop? No-- we aren't cruel enough to require an application essay to get into the application essay workshop. :) All students are welcome to register by submitting payment.  

What if I don't know where I'm applying to college or what I want to major in? I do recommend that you develop at least some sense of this before you join the workshop, but you can certainly work on your Common App essay without knowing these things. 

Can I take this workshop as practice even if I'm not applying to college yet? Perhaps you could, but I don't recommend it. We'll focus heavily on the specific demands of college application essays, so this isn't a general writing class. You certainly could use this class to work on a different kind of application essay, such as an application to a special high school program. 

I signed up for the workshop-- when will I hear from you? If you received an e-mail receipt from AP Homeschoolers, you're registered! I'll invite you to access the class website approximately one week before the workshop begins, so mark your calendars. 

Can I sign up for more than one Common App workshop? Certainly! Some students sign up for more than one workshop so that they can have several essays to choose between by the end of the summer.

I want to participate in the workshop, but I don't want my classmates to see my essays or personal information. Is this ok? Sure! You'll miss out on a bit of interaction this way, but you're welcome to submit your essays and personal details privately to your section teacher instead of posting them publicly on the class website. 

Can you get me into Harvard? Unfortunately, I can't promise that your essay will achieve any particular result. College admissions depend on many factors, including luck. However, I can definitely help you present yourself in the best possible light, and past students have gotten into Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, U Chicago, Oxford, Wheaton, and other top schools using essays written in my workshop! Sometimes they have even received personal e-mails from their admissions officers letting them know how much the admissions officers loved their essays. 

Who will be teaching my workshop? I (Mrs. Inspektor) write all of the instructional messages and oversee each workshop, so I'll be your teacher no matter what. Signing up for one of my co-teacher's sections simply means that my co-teacher will be the one giving you detailed personal feedback on your work (sometimes after discussing your essay with me). I'm happy to be available to all students, so you can always e-mail me if you want a second opinion on your work.

Can I participate if I'm not homeschooled? I'll provide some instruction specifically aimed at homeschooled students, but any students are welcome to participate. Many of my past students have not been homeschoolers. 

What if I can't finish my essay in three weeks? If your essay isn't ready to go at the end of the workshop, we'll be happy to keep working with you via e-mail to polish it into a final draft, though we don't promise you the detailed or rapid feedback we offer during the workshop. 

What if I miss part of the workshop? We understand that you have busy summer schedules! It's fine to miss part of the workshop-- you'll just need to catch up on what you missed later, and you may miss out on a bit of interaction with your classmates. It will be your responsibility to keep your instructor updated about your absence and to let your instructor know when you post late work. It's better to miss the end of a workshop than the beginning.

Help! My first-choice school hasn't posted its 2024-25 prompts yet! Most colleges and application systems don't change their prompts much from year to year. You can also probably modify your Common App essay to fit many different prompts. Don't worry-- your work here will still benefit you!  


These are the offered dates in 2024:

Workshop #1: Monday, May 20 - Friday, June 7

Drafts due: 
  • Sunday, May 26
  • Sunday, June 2
  • Sunday, June 9

Instructors responding to student work:

  • Maya Inspektor *FULL*
  • Meredith Pochily  

Workshop #2: Monday, June 10 - Friday, June 29

Drafts due: 
  • Sunday, June 16
  • Sunday, June 23
  • Sunday, July 30

Instructors responding to student work:

  • Maya Inspektor *FULL*
  • Meredith Pochily  

Workshop #3: Monday, July 15 - Friday, August 2

Drafts due: 
  • Sunday, July 21
  • Sunday, July 28
  • Sunday, August 4

Instructors responding to student work:

  • Maya Inspektor *FULL*
  • Meredith Pochily  

Workshop #4: Monday, August 5 - Friday, August 30

Note: While instruction in this workshop will begin on August 5th, this workshop will have a one-week break in the middle from August 11 to 17, with the first draft due after that brief break. During this break, Mrs. Inspektor will be out of communication. If a student will miss the first week of class and plans to catch up in the break week, I recommend that this student sign up for Ms. Pochily's section. 

Drafts due: 

  • Sunday, August 18
  • Sunday, August 25
  • Sunday, September 1st

Instructors responding to student work:

  • Maya Inspektor *FULL*
  • Meredith Pochily 

Note: Maya Inspektor will write all of the daily instructional messages, craft the workshop exercises, and oversee the progress of all students. However, she will only directly comment on the essays for students registered to her section of the workshop; her co-teachers will directly comment on writing from students signed up to their sections. You will choose which instructor will comment on your work when you register; for example, registering for "Workshop #4: Pochily" will register you to Ms. Pochily's section of the the August workshop, which means that Ms. Pochily will comment on your work. When one teacher's section fills up, that option will disappear from the online store. We'll also try to note here when sections fill up. 


How to register:

To register, simply submit payment for the correct workshop via the AP Homeschoolers website store. I'll contact all registered participants at least one week before each workshop starts. As each section fills up, the option to pay for admission to this workshop will disappear from the online store, and I'll try to update this page as well.

You can read the refund policy for summer workshops here: https://classes.aphomeschoolers.com/pages/refunds/ 


Maya Inspektor has almost two decades of experience teaching AP English Language and AP English Literature via PA Homeschoolers. As a teacher, her passion and strength lies in helping students bring out their own writing voices and work through the process of revision. She has informally helped students with admissions essay writing for years, and she has offered these workshops since the summer of 2016. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to e-mail minspektor@gmail.com.)

Meredith Pochily has co-taught the summer essay workshops with Mrs. Inspektor for the last several years. In the past, she co-taught AP English Language as well, and she has worked extensively as an English tutor with students of all ages. She graduated summa cum laude from George Washington University and later earned her Master of Social Work degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. Pochily recently opened a private therapy practice where she provides outpatient therapy to teens and adults. Whether through therapy or writing, she loves helping others express themselves and finds this to be one of the most rewarding parts of these essay workshops.

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