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8 Awesome Creative Writing Opportunities in the Northeast US to Pursue This Summer

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Summer is finally here, and if the school year felt like a blur of class work, extracurriculars, and social commitments, you are probably looking forward to some downtime. While summer is certainly a time to enjoy a slower pace, it’s not the time to let up completely. In fact, if you’re planning to apply to selective colleges, many of them will be interested in how you spent your summer months. 


If you’re seriously interested in creative writing, you might be unsure of where to start looking for summer activities that will challenge and nurture your writing skills. Lucky for you, there are many opportunities out there. For students who live in the northeastern United States, or who are interested in spending their summer in the northeast, there is no shortage of creative writing summer programs. And even if you can’t find a summer program that suits your needs, there are plenty of other creative writing opportunities out there, too.

Why Pursue Creative Writing this Summer?

Creative writing is a field that might get relatively little time and attention devoted to it during the school year. While you can take writing classes or pursue it independently, it’s unlikely that creative writing gets the same amount of attention as your core curriculum. This means that summer is an ideal time to pursue it, if it’s of interest to you.


By pursuing creative writing opportunities during the summer, you show that you are dedicated and committed to the craft beyond the minimal attention it may receive during the school year. Summer involvement can also highlight your more creative or artistic side, particularly if you focus your term-time activities on other subject areas. Finally, depending on the extent of your involvement during the summer, pursuing creative writing can demonstrate your initiative in seeking out opportunities to nurture a niche interest and your ability to manage time well, particularly if you are juggling your participation with other summer commitments.


If you’re interested in pursuing creative writing opportunities this summer, there’s no reason to hold back. Consider the time you have available and the extent of involvement you’re looking for, then pursue one of these awesome summer creative writing opportunities in the northeast.

5 Great Creative Writing Summer Programs in the Northeast

1. New England Young Writer’s Conference

Held annually at the Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College in Vermont, the New England Young Writer’s Conference is a four-day writing-focused workshop for high school students from around the country. The long weekend consists of highly focused writing seminars and workshops with professional writers who lend insight and expertise, along with readings and opportunities to meet fellow young writers.


In 2017, the conference cost $375, and a small number of partial, need-based scholarships were available. 


The conference is generally held in May on the weekend before Memorial Day, but you will need to plan for this one well in advance, since applications are due in November of the previous year. To apply, you’ll need a teacher to sponsor your application. For more directions about the application process, see the Admissions Information page. 


2. Wellesley Residential Workshops

Designed for rising sophomore, junior and senior female high school students, the Wellesley Pre-College 1-Week Residential Workshops offer two different writing choices to choose from: Writing Flash Fiction and Writing Poetry. Both classes emphasize the writer’s process, including drafts, revisions, and subsequent drafts. Both also include intensive instruction in the genre through studying remarkable published works.


The one-week residential program costs $1500 and is available for a single week in July only. Applications are available online and must be received by June 1st, or will be accepted on a rolling basis thereafter until all spaces are filled. In the past, the Writing Flash Fiction course has filled to capacity as of the June 1st deadline, so be certain not to miss it if you’re interested.


3.  Columbia University 3-Week Intensive Summer Programs for High School Students

There are many options for creative writers at Columbia’s 3-Week Intensive Summer Program. Residential and commuter students can register for classes that include:

  • Introduction to Creative Writing
  • Creative Writing: Journalism & Nonfiction 
  • Creative Writing: Master Class in Fiction 
  • Creative Writing: Introductory Workshop
  • Creative Writing: Advanced Workshop


During this program, students sign up for intensive classes focusing on one subject area. Morning and afternoon class sessions are broken up by the Midday Break, which offers special lectures, college preparedness workshops, community outreach programs, special interest clubs, or the opportunity to explore New York City and socialize with other program participants. Organized outings are also scheduled for the evenings and weekends, available as another option at the student’s expense.


Admissions are described as selective and applicants must submit an application, personal essay, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a writing sample. Students are encouraged to apply by the Priority Application Deadline of February 1st, and those who do so receive an application fee waiver. Tuition costs for the three-week session are $5600 for commuter students or $10,980 for residential students.


A limited number of need-based scholarships are available and distributed on a first-admitted, first-considered basis.


4. Brown University Pre-College Programs

Brown University promises a summer of academic exploration and exposure to the college experience for students who choose to enroll in its pre-college programs. It offers a combination of non-credit bearing college-level coursework, a pre-Baccalaureate Program eligible for college credit, and even several online courses that can be taken from anywhere with Internet access.


For students interested in creative writing, there are three online options and seven on-campus options to choose from, ranging from Storytelling in the Digital Age: Narrative Analysis, Story Craft, and Media Production, to the more traditional Creative Writing Workshop: Fiction.


The exact application process and tuition fees will vary according to which program you’re applying to, but in general you can expect to fill out an application and send a transcript along with a teacher recommendation to apply.  Online courses start at around $900 while a four-week residential course costs around $6500. Scholarships are available to help meet financial needs.


5. New York State Summer Young Writers Institute at Skidmore

At the New York State Summer Young Writers Institute, you can expect to receive mentorship and instruction in poetry, fiction, and dramatic writing (screenwriting, playwriting, and dramatic monologue) while also engaging in a critical exchange of evaluation with peers over the course of 12 days. The Institute prides itself on bringing top high school students together with professional writers.


The Institute accepts only 40 students each summer, based on an application that includes the submission of creative writing samples. Total cost for tuition, room, and board is approximately $1800. Full and partial financial aid awards are available to qualified students who complete the financial aid application by April 1, 2017.

3 More Great Summer Creative Writing Options

Of course, a formal workshop or residential summer program isn’t the best fit for everyone. If you want to pursue creative writing but don’t have the time or resources to attend such a program, you’re not without other choices.


1. Start Your Own Writers’ Group

Starting a writers’ group is a great way to show initiative while nurturing your writing skills through thoughtful feedback from others. You could choose to start a writers’ group specifically for people your age, or you could open it to all ages and gain exposure to a broader perspective and depth of experience.


The easiest way to get started is to connect with other interested writers before the school year ends. Try to find enough peers to form a group, or get help from those who are interested in connecting with other interested members in your community. 


You’ll also need to find a place to hold your meetings. You might be able to use an empty classroom at your school if you speak with teachers or administrators early enough. Otherwise, you can usually reserve a room at your local library or community center. A local cafe could also be a possibility if you choose a time when it isn’t usually crowded.


If you aren’t sure how to lead a writers’ group, there is a free Writing Group Starter Kit available from the Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. It includes personal goals worksheets, writing inventories, sample worksheets, and other materials to get you started. 


2. Tutor Younger Students

Sharing your passion for creative writing with younger students is always a good idea. Not only does it allow you the opportunity to give back to your community, but also it provides you with invaluable teaching experience.


To get started, see if there are any local groups already providing writing instruction for younger students. See if you can get involved with an existing group by providing your services to students one-on-one or by running small writers’ workshops for them.


If no such groups exist locally, consider starting your own. You could put up flyers to advertise at the local elementary school, library, or community center. Find a space to hold your tutoring sessions just as you would find a space for a writers’ group, as discussed above.


Sharing your passion with others is a valuable experience for all involved.


3. Find a Local Teen Writing Fellowship

This is an amazing opportunity if you can make it work for you. Teen writing fellowships tend to be few and far between, and those that do exist are usually extremely competitive. That being said, if you can find one that’s local to you and can make it through the application process successfully, you’ll find yourself afforded an opportunity that’s hard to beat.


Teen writing fellowships generally provide mentorship and guidance in both the creative process and the world of publishing. For example, Boston’s GrubStreet Summer Teen Fellowship lasts for three weeks and is open by application to 18 students from the Boston area. During their fellowships, the students “generate new work, learn about the craft of writing, and gain knowledge of the writing/publishing world.” Students in this fellowship also receive a $500 stipend for their time, but paid teen writing fellowships are usually not the norm.


To find a fellowship or teen writing program in your area, use an online query with the keywords “teen writing workshop” or “teen writing fellowship” along with your geographical region. You might be surprised what comes up.


Creative writing is a valuable outlet that can lead to any number of careers. While lots of students see creative writing as a path to a career as a novelist or poet, there are many careers in which strong writing skills are a necessity. These fields include marketing, media studies, education, law, business, public relations, and communications. 


For more guidance about extracurriculars, college applications, and how to choose activities that best suit you, download our free guide for 9th graders, and our free guide for 10th graders. Our guides go in-depth about subjects ranging from academicschoosing coursesstandardized testsextracurricular activitiesand much more!


For more information about writing in high school, check out these CollegeVine posts:


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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.