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Upper School News

Iona Prep’s “College Essay Boot Camp” Cracks the Code on the College Essay

It might be the most common part of the Common Application, but it’s also arguably the most difficult – the college essay. Confronting the challenge head-on, rising seniors at Iona Preparatory School have shipped off to “Essay Boot Camp” to complete the college essay before the school year even begins.

“It’s less stressful, not just for the students, but for parents and teachers, as well,” said Michael Kiers, a 1995 alumnus and college counselor at Iona Prep. “We talk a lot about the ‘Iona Prep Difference,’ and this certainly is something that sets our school and our students apart. I don’t see any other school doing this.”

Taking place over two consecutive days, the Essay Boot Camp invites college reps and admissions officials to work directly with students, providing first-hand insight into the “do’s and don’ts” of the college essay. Iona Prep English teachers and college counselors are also on hand to guide students through the writing process, beginning with a focus on how to separate yourself from the crowd when choosing a theme. Nearly 100 students completed the first session in July, with a second session approaching Aug. 6-7.

Justin DeLorenzo, 17, of Eastchester, reviewed a draft of his essay with Mr. Kiers as they sat in the cafeteria during the July session, marking up sentences and taking notes in the margins to strengthen his writing. His essay focuses on his family’s passion for creating and playing trivia games – though he wasn’t sure what he would write about when he entered the boot camp.

“I was really stuck on what I wanted to do,” he said. “But they gave us index cards and asked us to write three things that we liked about ourselves. I am proud of my relationship with my family, so I made this into an essay. Everyone from 17 to 80 years old gets together to play, and we’re always trying to stump each other.”

Iona Prep’s Essay Boot Camp is part of a multi-tiered, highly-individualized college preparatory journey that begins as soon as students walk through the doors. Other annual events include a College Readiness forum for families of freshmen, sophomores and juniors, exploring questions such as ACT verses SAT, big school verses small school, how to apply for financial aid, scholarships, sports recruitment and more. In March, Iona Prep also hosts one of the area’s largest college fairs, bringing over 100 leading colleges and universities to the school to speak directly with students and families. Additionally, more than 200 schools visit the New Rochelle campus each year.

The results of this process are clear, as graduating seniors have earned more than $120 million in academic, merit-based scholarships alone over the last five years, all while gaining admission to schools such as Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Notre Dame, RPI, Stanford, Vassar, West Point and many more.

To learn more about the Iona Prep Difference, please visit today.