07 / 02 / 13

Don’t Fight It: Pre-write It. – A Simple College Prep Strategy from SuperCamp


Pre-writing is just one of many college prep techniques taught at SuperCamp

By Chase Mielke

I see it all the time. The clock is ticking. An essay sits idle with only a few sentences written. Meanwhile, the student is mindlessly staring out the window like a creature from The Walking Dead. I can practically see the brain matter leaking out of their ears.

And then, I hear it . . . the sentence that makes an English teacher’s nervous system rattle: “I don’t know what to write.” Why does that drive us literature lovers crazy? Because we know it’s not true!

We know you have amazing thoughts and that you can craft crisp sentences. The problem is that you simply have not allowed your brain to unleash its potential without restriction. You have not allowed your neural networks to fire. You have not rocked the powerful and productive phase of pre-writing.

Let’s look at this in a different setting. Imagine you are hosting a tryout for a basketball team. Five players can be on the court at a time, so imagine if we only let five players show up for tryouts. Would we have a sweet team? Maybe, but not likely unless you have connections with the Miami Heat. This is why great athletic programs hold open tryouts. Anyone can show up. And, the more the merrier. Our probability of having a winning basketball team increases if we have two-hundred able-bodied athletes from which to choose. All we have to do is select the best of the best.

Pre-writing is like hosting a tryout for an all-star team of thoughts. We want a large pool of talent before we begin. So, let the thoughts show up without restriction. Go into creator mode. Any thought, no limitations, just jot it down. The problem with most student writers is that they are reluctant to even host the tryouts. They assume that they must dive straight into the game, and the results often show this lack of practice or a game plan. After the first quarter, they become stuck and frustrated because they don’t know the next move.

Whether it is clustering, fast writing, or mindmapping, spending just a few minutes plotting ideas leads to more organized and better writing in the end. Students who pre-write do not fizzle out as quickly with standardized essay tests. They have better thesis statements, better transitions, and better counter-arguments. Their organization scores are higher, and they maintain a more developed and consistent focus. Why? Because they know their thoughts before they begin writing. They have a whole pool of great ideas ready to jump into the game.

So, here’s your challenge: On your next essay, spend five minutes plotting out thoughts in creator mode. Don’t judge, don’t doubt, don’t hesitate. Just write. Set yourself up for success by making a plan. Host the tryouts and then make the cuts. Then, it’s game time.

And, when it’s game time, we’d prefer you not be a slow-thinking zombie. We’ve seen how zombie apocalypses turn out.  Great for entertainment.  Bad for society.  Don’t make your teacher go Sheriff Grimes on you. Pre-write! It will take the misery out of your writer’s block and actually make writing fun again.

We are happy to teach great college prep techniques like this at SuperCamp to help you succeed in school and enjoy the journey.

About SuperCamp:
SuperCamp offers academic and personal enrichment program summer camps for teens, including specifically designed summer programs for high school students, middle school students, and college students respectively. These educational summer camps provide ideal college prep skills and help instill positive values for life based on The 8 Keys of Excellence by Bobbi DePorter. SuperCamp’s academic summer programs for teens help students increase their grades, confidence and motivation.

About the Author:
Chase Mielke graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s in English Education and Communications from Western Michigan University.  He was born and currently resides in Michigan where he teaches high school Language Arts and Interpersonal Communication. Presently, he is working on his Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. Chase has worked SuperCamp since 2008 and has led programs across the US and internationally in Turkey.

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Since 1982 SuperCamp has increased the academic and personal success of 73,000 students. Participants experience breakthrough learning, the 8 Keys of Excellence principles to live by, self-discovery, deep friendships, and fun! They learn valuable collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity strategies, and how to apply their SuperCamp experiences and skills to school, college, career, and life.
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