Unravelling the College Essay

The 2020 COVID-19 related lockdown denied many college-bound students access to instructors, guidance counselors and mentors they would have had access to   if they were in school.

In November 2020, the Greater Chinatown Community Association (GCCA) and the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center’s Teen Resource Center (TRC) launched the “Unravelling the College Essay” pilot program. In the program, New York City Asian community college-bound youth were matched with editors and other professionals in the publishing field. The professional writers and editors reviewed and commented on two drafts of each student’s college entrance essay.

GCCA board member and facilitator of the program, Theresa Pang, said, “This is an exercise to teach students to accept constructive criticism, experience collaborative writing and, at the same time, own their writing. It is not another person rewriting their essay.” Needless to say, the end product is designed to improve student’s chances of getting into the college of their choice. 

The students.

The students interviewed for the program were previous participants in Charles B. Wang Community Health Center’s Teen Resource Center high school senior programming. Interested students were briefed (via a Zoom meeting) on the essay program objective and participation requirements. Those wishing to join the program were asked to submit a writing sample after which they were paired with a publishing professional. 

The publishing professionals.

The participating publishing professionals come from many publishing world disciplines; some are editors, some publicists and some are marketing or sales managers — all with the commonality of working to present a well written presentation.  Of very mixed races and cultural backgrounds, all of the editors involved welcomed the opportunity to support the NYC Asian American community by volunteering their time and talents.

The GCCA pilot program was deemed successful by all project parties and will be repeated in 2021.