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Wellesley's Pre-College Exploratory Workshops: Olivia Collymore

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Olivia Collymore participated in a summer writing class through Wellesley College’s Pre-College Exploratory Workshop.

Olivia Collymore participated in a summer writing class through Wellesley College’s Pre-College Exploratory Workshop.

Though I did not know much about Wellesley College, it was a college that I associated with producing women who were strong and independent.

When I read about Wellesley's Pre-College Exploratory Workshops, I jumped on the chance, as a high-school senior, to explore life on the campus. Upon arrival, I immediately noticed the amazing architecture around the buildings. The way the concrete sculptures fell on the building gave the campus an overwhelming feeling of elegance.

By the time I was moved into my dorm room it began to rain outside. Since I had to walk to class, I ran underneath the nearest umbrella, meeting my first friend of the many that I would make throughout the program.

A chance to make friends

When I first met my professor, I was worried she might be harsh given that she taught college courses. However, my original expectations were completely proved incorrect, as she was very kind and intriguing, especially in the way she organized discussions in class. At the beginning of the program, when I looked around the table to see 14 other girls, I had no idea that all of them would soon become long-lasting friends.

When the professor announced that we would be getting homework, part of me dreaded the assignments. Little did I know that the homework would help me become a more captivating writer, and help me understand other writing styles.

For the rest of the week, I was amazed at my progress. I am not very emotional as a writer, but this class brought out a side of me I never knew I had. I was becoming a more confident writer.

An example of this would be a piece that I wrote in the class called, “A Rainy Day.” That day in class the professor instructed us to look at a picture and write based on what we saw. It required me to not only imagine what the picture meant, but how to express what I was seeing. I consider that the first step to becoming more comfortable with writing. In the past, I was only instructed to write based off an open response, but now I was able to express myself and create a vision for those reading.

Getting comfortable with peer edits

For the next few days, I was able to not only express my ideas through writing but I also felt comfortable enough with the group to read them aloud. If I ever wrote anything for a class in high school, the only person who would read it would be the teacher. I was never really a fan of peer editing.

In this class, I had a special connection with the girls and the professor. I was finally comfortable with making mistakes and their feedback was always respectful and helpful.

The process of peer editing with the group really helped me as a writer. Hearing everyone's writing during class gave me a lot of inspiration. I felt like trying new ways of writing and trying out different situations.

I still write at home; in fact, the program inspired me to write in a daily journal to continue practicing and exploring my art. This program was able to wake me up from the belief that you can only learn what teachers tell you: You are able to learn and work on different things to better your own knowledge independently. This is the most important lesson I am taking away from this program for not just my freshman year in college, but also with me for the rest of my life.

Looking ahead to college

Overall Wellesley's Pre-College Exploratory Workshops gave me more than what I expected out of just a week-long program. I was able to make connections with these girls and make friendships that are still strong to this day. This program made me a more confident and more experienced writer. At Wellesley, I was finally able to be in a learning environment where I felt respected for my opinions. I never felt like I was in the wrong program despite thinking of myself as a science major; I felt accepted for who I was.

The class made me feel comfortable, even as a science student, to explore my undiscovered passion for writing. As a senior in high school, now applying to colleges, I am 100 percent positive that my experience at Wellesley’s Pre-College Exploratory Workshops was able to highlight the different academic choices I have, and I look forward to continuing to improve my writing abilities.

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