Working with seniors on their college essays, we realized how many great conversations about values, skills and ambitions these questions tend to spark.
They offer a chance to share the guidance that many parents provide naturally to their children from a very early age.
Sadly, however, by 12th grade it is too late for many students to catch up.
With this in mind, we are launching a program called Essay Prep for Life, focused on personal growth and life visioning for 9th-12th grade students.
Essay Prep for Life uses college essay questions as the basis of an ongoing discussion between mentors and mentees about mentees' hopes and dreams.
By preparing mentors to listen actively, with empathy and empowerment, we hope to replicate the positive affirmation and support that many mentees do not receive at home.
Building Positive Habits
We train mentors in the basics of active, empathetic listening, and provide guidance on how to use college essay questions to spark their mentees' imaginations.
Mentees write approximately 100 words every other week as a journaling exercise, in a single google doc that is shared with their mentors.
Mentors meet periodically with mentees to discuss the mentees' written ideas and offer support and guidance.
Fostering a Free Flow of Ideas
Early on, there is no formal writing instruction; the goal is to encourage sincere, candid written communication from the students, even if it is grammatically informal. We provide tips on tools such as voice-to-text that make it easier for mentees to adopt the journaling habit.
As students progress and gain confidence, mentors or Equal Edge staff begin to offer writing instruction. By senior year, when some students are ready to apply to college, we'll help them write their college application essays.
We partner with existing mentoring organizations and provide ongoing training and support to their mentors as they work with mentees. We are currently working with several of our existing partners to roll out the program this Fall. We would love to partner with your organization too!