Online Course


NEW Fall 2019 Online Course

Finding Your Voice: The Art of the College Application Essay 

September 11 – October 23, 2019Finding Your Voice Camp
Instructor: Isabel Henderson, BA Princeton, MFA Iowa Writers' Workshop 

Register Now



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.



Isabel Henderson



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, and is upcoming in Prairie Schooner






Students in "Finding Your Voice"“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., July 2019 

“I learned a lot about how to showcase my experience and I got to read and analyze well-written essays.”   — Allen L., July 2019

“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., July 2019



1) When is the deadline to register?

Course registration is open until September 6, 2019, on a first-come, first-served basis. If the course fills before September 6, then registration will close.

2) Are there any special requirements to register?

Students must be currently enrolled in high school.

3) Will taking this course ensure that I get into my top college?

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.

4) How many hours a week do you think I'll spend on the course? 

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. 

5) Will the instructor correct my grammar and syntax?

The instructor may highlight sentences in your work that you can improve through grammatical and syntactical revision. The course is not designed to focus on the fundamentals of English grammar and syntax. Students registering for this course should possess a basic proficiency in English.


PLEASE NOTE: Registration fees from "Finding Your Voice: The Art of the College Application Essay" will fund the IYWP's administrative costs in offering the course. Remaining funds will support the delivery of free IYWP programming of equal caliber to underserved youth in Iowa.

Finding Your Voice Camp