University of Minnesota
Department of English

Department of English

English in the Public Sphere: High School Program

Image of Step Up to College Writing Workshop
In the summer of 2008, the Department of English inaugurated an outreach program centered on encouraging literacy in local high school youth, the STEP UP to College Writing Workshop. The Workshop was so successful that we are currently planning an expansion of the program. The Workshop will not be offered in summer 2011 as we focus on the planning process.

STEP UP to College Writing Workshop

A three-day summer workshop in which 25-35 students (most but not all University of Minnesota STEP UP employees) learn how to write an effective personal statement for college entrance and scholarship applications. This workshop is open to Minnesota high school students.

The students receive college level instruction and exercises from English staff, graduate students and undergraduate mentors. The aim of the workshop is to encourage post-secondary education among local urban youth and to give assistance to high school students creating the college entrance application essay, which has become an integral part of the college application.

I have never had so much fun re-writing my essay. — 2008 participant

The STEP UP to College Workshop provides 9 am–4 pm programming (including engaging fieldtrips to the University of Minnesota Libraries Archives and the Bell Museum), carrying the students through the brainstorming-draft-revision-peer review-conferencing-revision process. The students are asked to write beyond the usual general goal or affinity statements and come up with a highly detailed essay specific to them. The workshop ends with an impressive showcase of student writing in the Whole at Coffman Union.

I loved these sessions. I loved my teachers. They were funny, fun, and very encouraging. I was able to accomplish much more than I thought I could. — 2008 participant

For information please email Terri Sutton at

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