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Writing the “Design Your Own Course” Essay Question – Tips from Colorado College

Colorado_College2If you could design a college course what would it be? Not only that, how would you write about it?

This year I have come across a number of colleges asking prospective students to write a supplemental essay that has the student design a course, or a theme house, that could be implemented at the college. As I work with students, I find they often struggle a bit with this question. They worry that they will come up with something that has already been done or is not creative enough. So, I like to encourage them to break the question down as they are brainstorming. Here are some of the questions I pose to students brainstorming on this essay topic:

  • What is a theme or subject that interests you?
  • What is a program or class you personally would want to take part in? Why?
  • What would that program have as its main components?
  • What would set it apart from other courses or programs on the campus?
  • Could this program actually be implemented?

One of the colleges that asks this type of question is Colorado College. They encourage students to design their own three – and a half week block course. I had the chance during a recent visit to the Colorado College campus to ask their Assistant Director of Admissions, Sara Purviance, for her tips on answering this essay topic. Watch the video below for her tips and suggestions.


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