Writing Their Way Into College

In today’s NYT is this article about College Summit, a non-profit that runs an intriguing program that teaches low-income young people to craft college essays from the fabric of their lives. They learn the cultural capital of essay writing, they learn to frame their lives as something infinitely richer and deeper than an accumulation of deficits, they learn to show admissions officers the complex lives behind the test scores and grades.

As the article notes, so many afluent kids are writing the same “I went on a service trip to Costa Rica and saw dire poverty for the first time” essays that admissions officers roll their eyes at the first mention of Latin America. I love the idea that low-income kids could come across as relatively wise, experienced, and motivated as they narrate their own lives.

I’ve been reading and working in narrative and storytelling this year, and love, also, that in writing these essays, these young people are also writing their lives, on their own terms, as they actively construct identity and voice.

The program reaches only 1500 kids a year.

At least it’s a start.

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