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Essay Writing

Individual Tutoring and Group Classes


Bob Finegan

Bob holds a B.A. in English and History from the University of Delaware, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Additionally, he holds an M.F.A in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was awarded a teaching fellowship.




John Taylor-Baranik

John Taylor-Baranik holds a B.A. in English Literature and an M.S. in Secondary English Education from the University of Pennsylvania. While an undergrad at Penn, John tutored high schoolers and university students, worked at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and mentored students as a Resident Assistant. He won several awards and fellowships for his archival research and honors thesis and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. 

Not Currently Accepting New Students




Patricia Noonan

Patricia holds a B.A. in Theater Arts and English from Boston College where she was a Presidential Scholar and graduated summa cum laude.  While continually honing her own storytelling professionally as both an actor and playwright, Patricia has worked with students on their writing at the high school and collegiate level for over a decade.  In addition to tutoring students one-on-one, she has been a Guest Artist at Boston College, Emerson College, NYU, and Sacred Heart University and a long-time Teaching Artist in the public school system, where she developed several successful writing workshops, including “Jumpstart Your College Essay.”

Available via Zoom Only 




Session 1


Zoom or Bryn Mawr


July 11, 13, 15

Session 2


Zoom or Bryn Mawr


July 25, 27, 29

College Essay Workshop 

This course will help students develop essay topics and drafts for the Common Application. Since narrative is the most effective form for the Common App personal statement, we’ll focus on storytelling skills. Students will learn to use creative nonfiction craft to engage the audience’s sympathies by dramatizing compelling events.

Every student has personal experience that can be translated into a winning essay, but most high schools don’t spend enough time teaching this kind of writing. It can be hard to recognize the best essay material even when you spend days scanning your memory for it. Shaping that material to snare and sustain a reader’s interest isn’t easy, either. Applying the principles and methods of creative nonfiction to this process can help students at every stage, from early brainstorming to final edits.

The college admissions essay is an early and pivotal opportunity to reflect on your character strengths and to introduce yourself using personal narrative. In this way it prefigures career-related storytelling occasions like the common (and daunting) interview question, “Tell me about yourself.” Developing a strong personal narrative for your college application not only helps you prepare for such challenges, but can itself be a mode of illuminating self-discovery.

The course will be conducted in workshop format. That is, we’ll review drafts as a class, starting with exemplary college essays, and then we’ll spend time brainstorming topics and discussing ways to refine class members’ drafts. The class limit of five students will ensure that each student’s drafts receive plenty of attention, including detailed feedback on content, style and focus.

Since it usually takes several weeks and multiple revisions to craft the highest quality admissions essays, reaching the final-draft stage is outside the scope of a one-week workshop. But this course will equip students with the skills they need to continue developing their essays until they’ve produced a powerful, effective final draft.

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