LHS English department offering college essay help sessions


Daniel Bethke

Post-secondary applications can be stressful, but the LHS English department offers many resources to help.

Daniel Bethke, Editor-in-Chief

For many high school students, their senior autumn is among their busiest: schoolwork, extracurriculars, community involvement and, very often, college applications.

The most personal and time-consuming part of a college application is the essays, especially the personal statement. Meant for colleges to better understand the components and potential of prospective applicants less evident in mere statistics like GPA or test scores, the essay is undeniably a radiant source of both introspection and stress. To help in this major task, the LHS English department will have a major role.

As they have for the past several years, the department will offer free one-on-one help sessions in the library this autumn. There will be in-person and virtual options in order to include all who desire help. Early decision or early action applicant sessions will be on Wednesday, Oct. 13, and regular decision applicant sessions will be on Wednesday, Nov. 10. The deadlines to request appointments, which are available to seniors only, are 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 4 and Nov. 1 respectively. Regular decision applicants are permitted to request an Oct. 13 appointment (for instance, if Nov. 10 does not work), but the early date is generally to provide early applicants a jump-start opportunity.

If a student cannot make either date work, they are not alone and still have a variety of resources at their disposal.

“The LHS counseling website has some resources available to students… My own website has a lot of resources,” said English department chair Sara Klawonn. “[Students] could seek out their own current English teacher and see if that teacher could help them during WIN time.”

Students can request an appointment at https://sites.google.com/k12.sd.us/aplit-klawonn/college-essay-help/, a website that also has many other resources for post-secondary applicants. As of now, however, only the Oct. 13 date is open for requests. The conferences, each one 40 minutes long, are limited and will therefore be scheduled on a first-come first-served basis.

Teachers participating in the conferences include Klawonn, Shawn Bogart, Amy Eckart and Megan McHenry, and students may request one of them in particular if they wish. If necessary, a follow-up session with the same English teacher may be held, the date of which the student and teacher may decide. 

If students already have a draft written, they should bring a printed copy for ease of editing (the library has printers available to students). Chromebooks and knowledge of essay prompts and word count limits are also helpful.

In addition to avoiding cliches and second person, Klawonn has a few other general tips for all prospective applicants.

“It is an anxious time,” said Klawonn. “Focus on your best characteristics and think about showing those characteristics… rather than telling. Overall, show who you are, and you’ll be successful. Seek out help when you need it.”

While this season may be stressful for many, the department wants students to know that there are myriad resources available for help and that they are excited to see where students’ writing directs them.

“It is incredibly gratifying and satisfying to help students in these next steps of their journey,” said Klawonn. “So as much as we’re helping students, it’s such a joy to work with these seniors who are getting ready to apply, and we celebrate with them.”