My Summer Writing Program Application Process

Hello everyone!

I haven’t discussed this topic on my blog in a while, but I applied for two summer programs. I haven’t heard back from either one yet, but the decisions should be coming back by the end of this month! It’s the first “major” application process I’ve ever had to go through for anything, and I learned a lot from it since I navigated it myself. I’ll definitely do an update once I get my decisions back, but I just wanted to give an overview of the process I went through.

At first, I wasn’t even sure what type of program I wanted to go to. I was looking at a lot of creative writing ones, but they all seemed so competitive, and I was just looking at lots of different types of programs since I knew I wanted the experience in general. However, as I went down the rabbit hole of research on various blogs, forums, and college advice websites, it became clear I was most interested in a writing program. Even though most are super competitive, I wanted to shoot my shot so that if I ended up paying to go to a program, it was going to be worth the money.

I ended up applying to the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop and the Sewanee Young Writers Conference, both prestigious and competitive writing programs. However, I did not only apply to them for prestige- I’ve been obsessed with Kenyon for a while, and I fell in love with Sewanee’s program after reading about it on multiple sites. Both are in such beautiful locations that I know would be great environments for writing, and both schools are strong in creative writing. I did not apply to Iowa Young Writer’s Studio as I figured it was too competitive and I only wanted to apply to two programs.

I was able to narrow it down to these two programs by making tons of lists. First, I made a master list of programs. I then realized I wanted to go to a writing program and made a master list of only writing programs. I started to individually research each program, and made a smaller list based on fit, price, and length/dates. Then after doing even more research and seeing what the applications consisted of, I went with my gut and decided to apply to Sewanee and Kenyon- go big or go home.

The Kenyon application was super simple. I had to write a 300-word essay about a specific moment when words were meaningful to me. I chose a moment from preschool where I would read to my classmates and I felt in control and powerful from my ability to tell stories. The only other requirements were to fill out a basic information form (including a transcript) and get a letter of recommendation from a teacher, so I filled the form out and asked my current English teacher for a recommendation later, which she thankfully wrote super fast! I might share the essay on here if I end up getting in (fingers crossed!).

The Sewanee application was much more complicated. I had to submit an eight to ten page sample of creative writing in my choice of genres (which we had to select) as well as a statement of purpose that was suggested to be between 500-750 words. They gave a list of things to discuss in the statement of purpose so I used that as a guideline and kind of went all over the place with it, but I spent a long time choosing what to send for my sample. I only sent poetry, so I just sent off all the poems I was most proud of. You also had to fill out another standard information form including a transcript (they accept unofficial ones, so I just took a screenshot of my student portal), and get a letter of recommendation, so my teacher used the same one from the Kenyon application.

I submitted both applications in the second week of February, as soon as my teacher finished the recommendation letter. Sewanee has a rolling deadline and starting reviewing applications about a week and a half ago as I’m writing this, and Kenyon’s application was due March 1st but they release decisions in late March. I’m not expecting anything since I know I’m not the most polished or experienced writer and these are both competitive programs, but I would be so blessed and ecstatic to get in and to attend either one. I’m hoping for the best and I’ll update you soon- wish me luck!


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