Improve your writing at HMI

Writing is a life skill. Yet, many students need more experience crafting clear, compelling, and persuasive written arguments. Our writing curriculum is not just a chance to write more over the course of a summer. It is an opportunity to become a better writer. 

Our focus is one of the most important and most challenging writing assignments students face in high school: the college application personal essay. Colleges expect students to showcase their writing prowess in a 650-word essay: a critical part of the application. Yet many high school seniors have little or no experience writing compellingly and expressively in the first person. During the HMI Summer Term, students work to hone their personal essay writing skills and finish with a polished text that can be used as a Common Application college essay or personal statement.

Intensive Writing Workshops 

Peer and Instructor Feedback

Daily Journaling

On wilderness expeditions, students keep a journal to record their thoughts, experiences and memories—from reaching the top of a peak, to realizations through conversations with new friends, to finding humor in a hiking day that didn’t go as planned.

On campus, faculty provide lessons on turning those journal entries into a formidable personal essay. Workshops with peers and faculty help each student grow in the art of giving and receiving feedback. At the end of the Summer Term, students share their essay with the community and return home with a written encapsulation of their experience.

Specific writing skills emphasized at HMI

  • How to write about yourself compellingly
  • How to use the narrative arc as a tool
  • Drafting, re-drafting, and editing work in a detailed way taking into account peer and instructor feedback
  • Writing about the natural world descriptively while avoiding cliches
  • Regular personal journaling

Select personal essays from recent Summer Term students

ST19-Dan’s Group-1st Exped-Collegiates-Headshot-C Hildebrand-2

Catherine Hildebrand


Thierno Diallo

ST19-JPsgroup-collegiate peaks-Headshot-Lilli-2

Lilli Lewis