Summer Session 2: July 17–28 | Mondays, Tuesdays & Thursdays

“This course gave me the space, constructive feedback, and tools I needed to start and learn how to write a powerful admissions essay."
– Chanel M.


The Columbia Writing Academy is a two-week course designed for those who want to use the power of writing to develop their own personal voice and style. Through a combination of workshops and tutorials, students will learn new writing techniques and develop the skills and confidence to write a powerful college admissions essay. As many colleges place less emphasis on standardized test scores, the admissions essay has taken a larger role in the application process. In this course, students will explore each stage in the essay writing process—brainstorming, drafting, revising—and will receive in-depth feedback from the teaching team throughout the process.  

The College Admissions Essay, often called a personal statement, is an opportunity for students to stand out and set themselves apart from other applicants by saying “here’s something about me that you might not know from my grades; here’s my story; here’s what matters to me.” By the end of the two-week course, students will have written an essay that personalizes their college application, captivates readers, and shows colleges why they should accept them.  

Format & Expected Workload

The Workshop will be a lively, stimulating two-week online course that requires six to eight hours of work each week, including reading, writing, 1:1 tutorials, and participating in three weekly synchronous sessions via Zoom. Synchronous sessions and 1:1 tutorials will be led by Seminar Leaders, following Dr. Sommers’ course design and syllabus. Sessions will be held on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, 7:00–8:15 p.m. ET, and will include seminar-style discussions, and writing workshops.


The Writing Academy is offered through the 2-week Online Immersion program. As a program participant, students are encouraged to join co-curricular activities, events, and workshops to prepare for the academic rigors of university life. Events include:

  • Finding the Right College for You
  • Putting Your Best Foot Forward on a College Application
  • Insider Tips for the Common App

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Course Dates

Mondays, Tuesdays & Thursdays,
7:00–8:15 p.m. ET

July 17th–28th, 2023


Nancy Sommers headshot

Nancy Sommers, Ed.D.

Nancy Sommers designed and created the Columbia Writing Academy: Writing the College Admissions Essay specifically for high-achieving and motivated high school students who want to craft powerful admissions essays. Dr. Sommers assembled a select group of talented, experienced writers and writing instructors who lead weekly small-group seminars and meet with students for 1:1 tutorials. The Seminar Leaders come to the Columbia Writing Academy with extensive teaching experience and an unwavering commitment to their students’ success.

Nancy Sommers is a prize-winning writer and teacher who led the Harvard College Writing Program for twenty years and currently teaches at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. She is the author of four college writing handbooks—A Writer’s Reference, A Pocket Style Manual, Rules for Writers, and The Bedford Handbook—and is an internationally-recognized leader in the field of writing studies for her scholarly work and for her films "Shaped by Writing," "Across the Drafts," and "Beyond the Red Ink." Sommers served for ten years on the Harvard College Admissions Committee, and she brings her knowledge about successful admissions essays—and how to craft them—to inspire and instruct Columbia Writing Academy students.

Registration Details

Columbia Writing Academy: Writing the College Admissions Essay is a course offered within the 2-week Online Immersion program in Session 2 (July 17-28, 2023). Please be sure to select this session when applying. Admission is selective; the admissions committee looks for academically exceptional students who are eager to contribute original ideas and a spirit of intellectual curiosity to a community of highly motivated learners.

Program Costs

This course is offered through our 2-week Online Immersion program. Please visit our Online Immersion website and select “2-Week Courses” for a detailed breakdown of costs.

Contact Information

Office of Admissions
Email: hsp@columbia.edu