About essay coach and College Application Camp founder Pat Berry
I started College Application Camp in 2014 because I knew in my heart that students—high school seniors in particular—and their families stress needlessly over applying to college. As the parent of two recent college graduates and a college sophomore, I am very familiar with that brand of anxiety. I know from experience what doesn't work, and with my background in writing and writing instruction, I was convinced I could help other families jump into application season with confidence.
I believed I could take some of the discomfort out of the process if I met with students early, before applications became something they had to squeeze in between the crush of senior-year classes and their extracurricular pursuits. A summer program allows students to plan and create when time pressures simply aren’t as great. It also provides more space to inspire and encourage and motivate students toward the finish line.
With our emphasis on writing, College Application Camp also addresses what I believe is a growing imbalance in our schools, where a heavy focus on STEM, while important, has relegated thoughtful writing to the backseat of secondary school education. In a perfect world, I’d demonstrate the importance of balancing the art of writing with the empiricism of science and math. In our program, writing is the focus.
Rising high school seniors who attend College Application Camp will leave with a solid draft of the main essay required by the Common Application. They’ll also refine their interviewing skills, create a résumé or activities list, and draw up an application action plan. And they’ll do all of this before the fall stampede of classes and activities.
Note that while I am the camp’s principle instructor, I typically bring on additional staff. These are MFAs with backgrounds in writing and the teaching of writing and who bring phenomenal tool sets with which to help students present their best selves to colleges.
My background is in writing, editing, and writing instruction. I have coached the application essay privately since 2006, and I’m a workshop leader of writing coaches and students at IMANI, a college advocacy center in Montclair, NJ, where many of the graduates are first-generation college students. In 2018-19, I will be working with high school juniors and seniors through the Paterson, NJ, CDC. For several years, I taught the creative writing spectrum—from poetry to nonfiction prose—at Columbia University’s Summer High School Program. And I have been a consultant for LinkedUpNow, a Millburn (NJ)-based agency that matches high school underclassmen with summer internships.
I am a journalist and communications consultant, and before graduate school I was a founding editor of Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated for Kids Magazine. I was also an editor at Sesame Workshop. Lately, when not coaching, I edit private and trade memoirs, like The Confluence (2016, Peter E. Randall Publisher), a collection of personal essays on fly-fishing and friendship. I also blog and have contributed to several essay anthologies. I am the founder of College Application Camp and The Art of Narratives, an editorial resource and support provider for writers of all abilities.
I’m an active volunteer for Dartmouth College and served as Essex County District Enrollment Director from 2009 to 2015 and as an alumni interviewer for more than three decades. In 2015, I won the Dartmouth Alumni Award for “extraordinary service” to the College. I hold a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Dartmouth.
A Montclair, NJ, native, I attended Montclair Kimberley Academy and raised my three daughters in the Montclair Public Schools.
Thanks for visiting! — Pat