Roosevelt, Harding Students Conquer College Essays

Harding students celebrate success with writing coach Britta Greene.

Take 41 terrific high school students -- students who were born in the United States, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Congo, Mexico, Gambia, Burma, Thailand and South Africa -- 16 volunteer writing coaches and three ThreeSixty staff, put them together in a couple rooms over spring break, add some pizza and Subway, and charge everyone with one monumental task: Complete a polished, adaptable college essay by week’s end.

That’s College Essay Boot Camp. It’s tough, emotional and meaningful. In early April, students from Roosevelt High School in south Minneapolis and Harding Sr. High School on the East Side of St. Paul sat down to share and transform their diverse life stories. The completed essays, which will debut in the May 2017 ThreeSixty Magazine, will help land these students in colleges and universities from coast to coast.

In the meantime, we want to share why to ThreeSixty staff, College Essay Boot Camp weeks are some of the best of the year.

College Essay Boot Camp is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I was honored to lead the curriculum at Harding Senior High School, my alma mater. Each time ThreeSixty has hosted a College Essay Boot Camp, I have found myself crying along with at least one student who is still processing a dramatic event they experienced in life and who is now wanting to share it through their college essay. Through the course of five days, the students are learning many valuable writing concepts, but most of all I hope they walk away proud of their hard work and their life stories. - Bao Vang, engagement coordinator

During our staff reflection on College Essay Boot Camps, we saw that our 41 student participants hail from 11 countries. Color us impressed at both the number and that the camps supporting (mostly volunteer) adults masterfully guided every one of these diverse voices to a high-quality college essay in a matter of 32 hours. To do so requires all parties to exercise a unique blend of patience and push, and the results are incredibly gratifying and significant. Each student and story is a meaningful part of our community and our future, which is why College Essay Boot Camp is one of the most enjoyable things we do at ThreeSixty. - Chad Caruthers, executive director

High school students in our communities have incredible life stories – stories that people need to hear. ThreeSixty's College Essay Boot Camp gives them the opportunity to share those stories. Over the course of one week, ThreeSixty staff and a team of dedicated volunteers help students find their voices to tell their stories in a way that will pique the interests of colleges and universities. The beautiful irony of College Essay Boot Camp is that, while we as adults are inspiring the students to tell their stories, they are also inspiring us with their stories. - Miles Trump, program manager