Exploring the Young Writers Workshop at Simon’s Rock

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

How To Prepare For Grad School

Exploring the Young Writers Workshop at Simon’s Rock

The Young Writers Workshop at Bard College at Simon’s Rock offers budding writers a unique opportunity to refine their craft and build lasting literary connections. The institution has been a cornerstone of early college education for over half a century, shaping young literary talents.

As you delve into this article, you’ll uncover the institution’s rich legacy and the transformative experiences of the Young Writers Workshop. Dive in to explore the workshop’s structure, benefits, and how it has impacted the world of writing.

The History and Legacy of Simon’s Rock

Simon’s Rock, nestled in the picturesque town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, is not just any educational institution. It’s a place where the legacy is deeply rooted in community and the nurturing of younger scholars.

For over half a century, Simon’s Rock has stood as a testament to the power of early college education. It has provided a welcoming and inclusive environment where the voices of younger students are not only heard but celebrated.

The college’s affiliation with Bard College further elevates its stature in the academic world. Bard College at Simon’s Rock is a private residential liberal arts college and operates as a unit of the renowned Bard College. This affiliation underscores the commitment both institutions have towards liberal arts education and the belief in the potential of younger students.

Liberal arts carved into a stone window

But beyond the academics, the true essence of Simon’s Rock lies in its tradition of nurturing young talents. The college recognizes the boundless potential of its students and provides them with the tools, guidance, and environment to explore, innovate, and excel. Whether it’s through writing workshops, research projects, or community engagement, students at Simon’s Rock are continually encouraged to push boundaries and redefine the norms.

From its inception, Simon’s Rock has been a beacon for budding writers, thinkers, and changemakers, illuminating the path for countless young minds eager to make their mark in the world.

The Structure of the Young Writers Workshop

The Young Writers Workshop at Bard College at Simon’s Rock is a transformative experience for budding writers in grades 9-11. Spanning three weeks, this residential program offers participants an immersive dive into the world of creative writing.

The workshop’s schedule is thoughtfully designed to balance rigorous classroom instruction with hands-on writing sessions. Each day, students are introduced to new literary techniques and genres by seasoned instructors. These classroom sessions are not just about passive learning; they’re interactive, encouraging students to ask questions, participate in discussions, and share their perspectives.

But the learning doesn’t stop at the classroom door. The workshop places a strong emphasis on practical application. Daily creative writing activities allow students to put theory into practice, experimenting with different styles and voices. These sessions are where ideas come to life, stories take shape, and characters find their voices.

One of the standout features of the program is its focus on peer reviews. Writing, while often a solitary endeavor, thrives on feedback. At the Young Writers Workshop, students have the opportunity to share their work with fellow participants, receiving constructive criticism and insights. This collaborative environment fosters a sense of community among the writers, as they learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Structured meticulously, the workshop is a blend of theory and practice. It’s not just about writing; it’s about understanding the nuances of storytelling, refining one’s technique, and growing as a writer. By the end of the three weeks, participants not only leave with a richer portfolio of work but also with enhanced skills, newfound confidence, and lasting memories of a summer well spent.

Benefits of Attending the Young Writers Workshop at Simon’s Rock

Enhancing Writing Skills

The Young Writers Workshop at Bard College at Simon’s Rock is more than just a summer program; it’s a crucible where raw talent is refined into literary prowess. Through a combination of structured lessons and hands-on writing sessions, students delve deep into the nuances of creative writing, exploring various genres and styles.

Writer typing with retro writing machine. View from above.


The workshop’s seasoned instructors, with their wealth of experience, provide invaluable insights, guiding students in honing their unique voice. Feedback is a cornerstone of the program. Constructive critiques from these instructors help students identify their strengths and areas for improvement, ensuring that they evolve as writers with each passing day.

Building a Writing Portfolio

But it’s not just about honing skills. In today’s competitive academic landscape, having a strong writing portfolio can set students apart during college applications. It showcases not just their writing ability, but also their dedication, passion, and commitment to the craft.

The Young Writers Workshop aids students in this endeavor, providing them with ample opportunities to create, refine, and curate their best pieces. Under the guidance of experienced mentors, students learn to discern their most impactful works, assembling a portfolio that truly represents their literary journey.

Networking and Building Connections

Beyond the portfolio, there’s the invaluable experience of community. One of the often-overlooked benefits of attending the Young Writers Workshop is the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers. These connections, forged over shared passions and experiences, often last a lifetime, providing a supportive network as students navigate their literary paths.

The workshop also hosts guest speakers and established writers, offering students a rare chance to interact with and learn from industry veterans. These interactions can open doors to internships, collaborations, and even publishing opportunities.

While the benefits are numerous, the workshop’s curriculum stands out, ensuring that every participant leaves not just as a better writer, but also as a well-rounded individual ready to make their mark in the literary world.

A Glimpse into the Workshop’s Curriculum

Exploring Different Genres

The Young Writers Workshop at Bard College at Simon’s Rock offers students a comprehensive exploration of various literary genres. From poetry to prose, short stories to long-form narratives, and even experimental forms, the workshop covers a broad spectrum.

This diverse range ensures that students are not pigeonholed into one style but are exposed to the vast world of literary expression. By dabbling in different genres, students discover their unique voice and preferences, enriching their writing journey.

Emphasizing versatility, the workshop prepares students to adapt to different writing challenges, making them well-rounded writers. Diversity in genres leads to a broader understanding of literature.

The Art of Storytelling

Crafting a compelling narrative is an art that requires a delicate balance of imagination, structure, and emotion. The workshop delves deep into the elements of storytelling, from character development to plot dynamics and setting the tone.

Academic Literature

Through interactive exercises, students learn to weave tales that captivate readers, transporting them to different worlds. Role-playing, storyboarding, and peer reviews are some of the hands-on activities that help students refine their storytelling skills.

These exercises challenge students to think critically, ensuring their stories are both engaging and meaningful. Storytelling is an art, but there’s also the technical side to writing.

Grammar, Syntax, and Style

While creativity is at the heart of writing, mastering the basics of grammar, syntax, and style is equally crucial. The workshop places significant emphasis on these foundational skills, ensuring students write with clarity and precision.

Regular sessions focus on common grammatical errors, sentence construction, and the nuances of style, helping students avoid pitfalls that can detract from their narratives. Workshops on punctuation, verb tenses, and voice further refine their technical prowess.

By mastering these basics, students ensure their ideas are conveyed effectively, enhancing the impact of their writing. With a robust curriculum, the workshop ensures holistic development.

Testimonials and Success Stories

The Young Writers Workshop at Bard College at Simon’s Rock has been a transformative experience for many budding writers. Past participants often speak of the workshop as a turning point in their literary journey. The informal and relaxed environment, coupled with daily creative writing activities, allowed students to explore new directions in their writing, pushing boundaries and challenging their own limits.

Not only has the workshop been instrumental in shaping the skills of young writers, but it has also seen some of its alumni achieve remarkable success in the literary world. The program’s reputation is evident from the fact that students have gone on to enroll at prestigious institutions like Harvard, Kenyon, Princeton, Smith, Williams, and Yale. Such achievements underscore the workshop’s impact and the quality of instruction provided.

How to Apply to the Young Writers Workshop at Simon’s Rock

If you’re a budding writer, this workshop is an opportunity you won’t want to miss. Here’s everything you need to know about the application process.

Student writing college or university application.


The program seeks academically driven and socially mature students currently in grades 9-11. Admission decisions hinge primarily on the application essay and the accompanying teacher’s recommendation.


The Young Writers Workshop is a three-week residential program with a tuition fee of $3,500. This covers a plethora of amenities and activities, from room and board to cultural events and field trips.

When compared to similar two-week workshops, the Young Writers Workshop at Simon’s Rock offers a more cost-effective rate, allowing students to delve deeper into the writing process over three weeks.

Rolling Admissions

The admissions process for the Young Writers Workshop is on a rolling basis, starting in January. The beauty of this system is that there’s no application fee.

However, it’s essential to note that admissions continue until the program reaches its capacity. This usually happens between late April and early May. Given the program’s popularity, it’s advisable to apply early. Once your application is complete, you can expect a decision within one to two weeks.

Document Submission

The application process requires certain documents. Once filled out, these documents should be emailed back as attachments. While there are numerous scanning apps available for smartphones, it’s crucial to scan the documents rather than sending photographed copies.

Application documents include:

  • Young Writers Workshop Application Form
  • Teacher’s Recommendation Form
  • Financial Assistance Form
  • The Dorothy West Scholarship Form
  • Letter from the Workshop Director


The workshop emphasizes direct communication with the applicants. While the team is open to discussing the program with families, they expect the applicants themselves to handle application-related queries and submissions.

All communication regarding your application will be via email. Ensure the email address you provide is one you frequently check.

Residential Experience

The academic program of the Young Writer’s Workshop is just one facet of the experience. The Simon’s Rock campus, spread across 200 acres in the picturesque Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, offers a culturally rich environment.

During your stay, you’ll have the chance to attend performances by renowned summer theater programs like Shakespeare and Company, Barrington Stage Company, and more. A highlight is the day spent at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), a world-renowned institution.

A woman looking at paintings in the Museum of Modern Art

Beyond the academic and cultural experiences, the campus offers numerous recreational and social opportunities. Whether you’re into hiking, swimming, basketball, or even attending concerts and dances, there’s something for everyone.

Tuition and Financial Aid Assistance Information

For those with demonstrated financial need, there’s a provision for modest financial assistance. Ensure you submit any financial assistance requests with your application materials.

The Dorothy West Scholarship is also available. This scholarship is tailored for students of color with demonstrated financial need. The scholarship covers the entire cost of tuition, room, and board. Additionally, some runners-up may receive partial financial assistance.

Tips for a Successful Application to the Young Writers Workshop

Navigating the application process for any program can be daunting. To help you put your best foot forward, here are some tips tailored for the Young Writers Workshop at Bard College at Simon’s Rock:

  1. Start Early: Given the rolling admissions, the earlier you apply, the better your chances. Not only does this show your keen interest, but it also gives you ample time to perfect your application.
  2. Craft a Compelling Application Essay: Your application essay is a significant determinant in the selection process. Ensure it’s well-written, authentic, and showcases your passion for writing. Don’t hesitate to seek feedback and make revisions.
  3. Seek a Strong Recommendation: The Teacher’s Recommendation Form is another crucial component. Approach a teacher who knows your writing skills and work ethic well. A detailed, personalized recommendation can make a world of difference.
  4. Stay Organized: Keep track of all the required documents. Create a checklist and ensure you’ve converted, filled out, and attached everything before hitting the ‘send’ button on that email.
  5. Engage Directly: Remember, the workshop values direct communication with applicants. While it’s okay to seek guidance from family or mentors, ensure you’re the one reaching out with any questions or concerns.
  6. Financial Aid and Scholarships: If you’re seeking financial assistance, don’t shy away from applying for it. The Dorothy West Scholarship, in particular, is a fantastic opportunity for eligible students. Ensure you provide all necessary documentation to support your request.
  7. Stay Updated: After submitting your application, regularly check your email (including the spam/junk folder) for any updates or additional requirements. Adding the co-directors’ emails to your address book can help ensure you don’t miss out on any communication.
  8. Show Genuine Interest: If you have questions or want to learn more about the program, don’t hesitate to reach out to former students or the co-directors. This not only provides clarity but also demonstrates your genuine interest in the workshop.
  9. Prepare for Success: In the event you’re accepted, start preparing early. Familiarize yourself with the campus, the program’s schedule, and any materials you might need. This will help you make the most of the three-week workshop.
  10. Stay Positive: Lastly, remember that while being accepted would be fantastic, it’s also a competitive program. Stay positive, do your best, and know that every experience is a stepping stone in your writing journey.

With these tips in hand, you’re well-equipped to craft a standout application for the Young Writers Workshop.


The Bard College Young Writers Workshop at Simon’s Rock stands as a beacon for budding writers, offering them a unique platform to hone their craft.

students sitting on a staircase while studying

At the heart of this program is its commitment to nurturing creativity. Students are encouraged to explore new directions in their writing in a relaxed and informal environment, ensuring that their passion for the craft remains ignited. The workshop not only focuses on developing fluency and confidence but also broadens the experience of writing across various genres.

For those on the cusp of their college journey, seizing such opportunities can be transformative. It’s not just about improving writing skills; it’s about building a foundation for future academic and professional success. Engaging in such workshops provides a competitive edge, making one stand out in college admissions and beyond.

To all aspiring writers, remember: every workshop attended, every piece written, and every feedback received contributes to your growth. In the world of writing, every experience is a stepping stone to greatness.


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