Summer 2017 College Essay Boot Camp: Kicking students' college essays into shape!

ThreeSixty Journalism high school students and young alums during College Essay Boot Camp in June. 

The magic of College Essay Boot Camp continues.

This summer, nearly 40 high school students from the Twin Cities traveled to the University of St. Thomas for ThreeSixty Journalism summer camps. Their first order of business: Complete their college essays.

Our College Essay Boot Camp pairs students with volunteer writing coaches and teaches them the nuances of writing the all-important college essay. In the span of four days, they each complete a polished, adaptable college essay that will help land them in colleges and universities. It’s no small task.

In the process, students find that their stories are important – often remarkable – and that their voices matter. We believe that when students understand the power of their own stories, they become better storytellers. And year after year, these students amaze us with their personal life experiences.

We hope their stories amaze you, too. 

College Essay: Telling my story, without a costume

The dress was knee-length, frilled, and made of a blue material that resembled a shaggy carpet. In retrospect, it was hideous. But in that very moment, I felt like a princess.

Chia Thao, St. Paul Highland Park High School

College Essay: A stand-in parent

My arms screamed in protest, crying mutiny against my mind even as screams, loud and physical, erupted from my youngest sister. 

Jose Galvan, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School

College Essay: On a mission to help others

I am lying on the playground, looking up at the other kids like they are giants. One kid keeps kicking me in the stomach.

Gabriel Hearne

College Essay: Choosing the right path

If I hadn’t moved away from Gary, Indiana, I would be in a juvenile facility or possibly pregnant.

Zong Xiong

College Essay: Honoring a father and his legacy

I hate the smell of hospitals. The pungent, sterile odor of the place where some people go to die takes me back to the year I turned 7 years old. 

College Essay: ‘Wherever you come from does not define you’

When I tell people I live in north Minneapolis, their eyes often get wide. 

College Essay: Raising my voice and gaining confidence

On a humid day in June, I landed in Boston, feeling tense. I was away from home, away from my family. I was scared.

Heidi Sanchez Avila

College Essay: ‘A rainbow of identities’

I felt like I was in a whole new world. This was the first time I was attending a Pride event.

College Essay: The value of education

The scorching heat and blazing sun signified the first day of summer break in 2015. I had just completed my seventh-grade year and my report card finally arrived in the mail. 

College Essay: 6,373 miles to the ‘land of dreams’

The people on the plane reminded me of the soccer players and cartoon characters I saw on television. It was like another world. Not many people looked like me. 

Pay Poe

College Essay: Driven by my mother’s sacrifices

It was a humid summer day of my fourth year in America when I decided to apply for Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) to help me achieve my goal of a college education. 

Samira Mohamed

College Essay: Reading, writing and happiness

As a young Somali girl, the fictional worlds of “Junie B. Jones” and “Clarice Bean” were my escape.

College Essay: No longer running away

Breathing rapidly, tears streamed down my face. “I can't do this anymore,” I say to myself.

Standing up, I walk to a random person sitting in the park.