Finding Your Voice: The Art of the College Admission Essay

FYV 2024

Course Description

As a high school junior or senior, you will get your test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation in order—but what about that last crucial item, the college application essay? How can you convey your goals, personality, and sense of self in just a few hundred words? This course will discuss the purpose, objective, and execution of the successful college application essay, demystifying the process and allowing you to put your best self onto the page. We will brainstorm topics, discuss structure, look at examples of extraordinary essays, and give feedback on ideas and drafts. The college application essay is an opportunity for you to speak about yourself and make an impression that goes beyond your grades and scores—this course will offer expert guidance and ease your anxiety about the process.

This course is fully online and asynchronous with no meeting times.

SIGN UP HERE: May 29, 2024 – July 11, 2024


Isabel Henderson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she received Truman Capote and Rydson fellowships. She earned her BA at Princeton University. She has worked for The Atlantic, Granta, and The American Reader; her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Prairie Schooner, and other journals and magazines.


Registration is now open.

Register Here

Course Price: $485.00

NOTE: The credit card payment will be processed by an external provider and will appear on your credit card statement as “IA YOUTH WRITING PROJECT."

Refund Policy: A $150 cancellation fee will be applied to refunds for cancellations. No refunds are available after the listed start date of each session.

Privacy Policy: This form will collect information concerning your name, address, email, and age. The external service provider,, collects credit card information. All information collected will be used solely for this event, and for no other purpose. It will never be sold, shared with, or rented to third parties. See the University of Iowa's privacy policy here:

Need Help? 

Contact the Iowa Youth Writing Project at 319-467-4694 or

Frequently Asked Questions

This course is asynchronous, meaning that there are no in-person or online meeting times. Students work at their own pace to meet deadlines and receive instructor feedback.

Yes, your instructor will provide individualized feedback on your submissions so long as you turn them in on time, according to the policies outlined in the course syllabus.

The instructor provides a late work policy in the course syllabus; you won’t get feedback on submissions that don’t follow this policy. Please refer to syllabus for details.

No, your instructor will only provide feedback on course materials.

Of course—your instructor holds office hours once per week for this purpose! Unless otherwise specified, your instructor is only available during these office hours for one-on-one meetings. See course syllabus for details regarding scheduling a one-on-one meeting with your instructor.

Please only discuss matters that are relevant to the course. This includes assignments, instructor feedback, course policies and deadlines, questions and lessons learned about course materials, etc. The instructor is not obligated to provide guidance on other matters.

No. In order to be respectful of your peers, plan on meeting with your instructor for no more than 30 minutes at a time, unless you make an alternative arrangement with them prior. Office hours are there for all of the students in the class, so be mindful of how much time you’re using.

No. Your instructor will provide high-level feedback for revision, including sentence structuring and word choice, but they will not proofread your writing for punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and grammar.

The instructor estimates that you will spend 2-3 hours each week completing short reading and writing assignments. The course is designed to fit into your busy schedule as a high school junior or senior.

It is best for students to follow along with the course. If students do not complete assignments by the weekly due date, including the final essay date, then they will not receive instructor feedback. However, they can still access lessons and prompts.

Many factors go into the college application process, one of them being the submission of an effective personal essay. For this reason, we do not guarantee that you will be admitted to the college of your choice simply because you take this course. We can say that if you dedicate yourself to completing all course assignments and if you consult regularly with the instructor, you will be better prepared to write strong college application essays that you can submit as part of your application portfolio. This course will also better prepare you to write well at whatever college you do attend.

Please do let us know about your college plans so we can congratulate you! For continued feedback and guidance, you can reach out to your instructor to ask about their availability once the course ends.

“I needed an extra confidence boost in the college application process with my essay. This class gave me that. Isabel was very understanding and approachable which is really important for a seminar that centers around people’s whole high school career. I loved that I could ask as many questions as I needed to. This class helped me figure out a topic, have time to write, get one-on-one instruction, and know the steps to take so I wouldn’t be stressed. This was super-helpful. Thank you, IYWP!”
- Isabella H.

“I learned a lot about how to showcase my experience and I got to read and analyze well-written essays.”
- Allen L.

“Definitely would recommend this workshop. Lots of good material covered, plus Isabel is a great instructor. She explains everything in detail and is willing to work one-on-one, as well.”
- Timothy C.