Write Your College Essay in Less Than a Day by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross

by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross, author of Write Your College Essay in Less Than a Day

Having led college essay-writing workshops for English teachers and guidance counselors (as well as students) in high schools throughout the country, I know that faculty members are generally eager to step in to help alleviate the stress. But many teachers and counselors tell me that they really don’t know what sort of essays colleges prefer nowadays. Even in this weak economy, or perhaps because of it, the competition to get into the most competitive colleges is still increasing. And teachers say the results of college admissions are often baffling. Some teachers report that they’ve seen their top students—outstanding essay writers with top grades and test scores—get turned away from colleges inexplicably. And teachers wish to be more helpful. (more…)

Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop

by George Bishop, author of Letter to My Daughter: A Novel

In my novel Letter to My Daughter, Laura, a middle-aged mother, writes a long letter to her runaway daughter.  Early on in the story, she bemoans the fact that letter writing seems to be a dying art:  “In this hyperactive age of emails and text messages, the kind of correspondence that Tim [her boyfriend] and I shared must seem like an anachronism to you . . . But I sincerely hope, dear Elizabeth, that someday you might have the pleasure of such an anachronism; that one day you’ll experience for yourself the irreplaceable joy of receiving letters from a lover.”  Much like my protagonist, I too appreciate the value of letters as a form of communication, and for this reason I’m always looking for ways to incorporate letter-writing activities in my English classes. 

Unlike an electronic message, a letter’s a tangible thing; it’s got heft and substance.  We can hold it in our hands, turn it over, smell it even.  We appreciate the extra time it took the sender to write out their thoughts on paper, put the paper in an envelope, address, stamp, and mail it.  A letter says, Listen to me.  I’ve got something important to tell you. (more…)