How to Apply: Online Camp Summer 2021 (2 weeks)

Students hanging out at Prairie Lights Books

After considerable thought, we have decided to offer our 2021 Summer Residential Program completely online. Given the intensity of the pandemic, the unlikelihood of vaccines being available in time to provide sufficient protection for staff and for students 16 and older, and the absence of a plan to vaccinate younger students, we do not feel we can expect to host a safe residential program in late June or early July. We have reached this decision independently of the University of Iowa, though we expect the university to cancel all summer residential programs for youth for similar reasons.

The challenge of offering last summer's residential program online, as an "Online Camp," and the feedback we received from participating students, left us with a number of great ideas to make Online Camp 2021 even more engaging and fulfilling. During each of two, 2-week sessions, June 13-26 and July 11-24, 2021, we'll be offering an intense, immersive writing experience that will include: core courses in poetry writing, fiction writing, and creative writing (fiction, poetry, and personal essay), TV writing, and playwriting—all taught by graduates of the Iowa Writers' Workshop or other renowned University of Iowa MFA programs; exclusive readings by exciting published writers; workshops and discussions on writing-related subjects taught by expert staff; as well as open mics, talent shows, social gatherings, icebreakers, and other events that are typically a part of our Summer Residential Program, and that will be specifically designed to allow students to connect with other young writers like themselves.

IYWS Online Camp 2021 is open to any academically motivated and socially mature student who will have completed at least their sophomore year in high school by June 2021. Nearly all students who attend the Studio have just completed their sophomore, junior, or senior years. In very rare cases, if there is space, we will admit an exceptionally talented and mature 9th grader. We happily accept applications from students outside the United States.

What are the 2021 session dates?

Session 1: June 13-26, 2021. Session 2: July 11-24, 2021.

When is the deadline to apply?

Applications for Online Camp 2021 will be accepted via Submittable, an online submissions manager, during a two-week Application Period in January and February, 2021. We will begin accepting application materials via Submittable at 1:00 AM (Central Time) Monday, January 25, 2021 and stop accepting application materials at 11:59 PM (Central Time) Sunday, February 7, 2021. Application materials will not be accepted before or after the Application Period.

What do I have to submit?

To apply to Online Camp 2021 you must submit the following 4 items:

1. Writing sample

If you want to study fiction, poetry, or creative writing during your time at the Studio, your sample should consist of not more than ten pages of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction/essay, or any combination of the three. We are looking for writing that is vivid and interesting. For fiction, the sample may consist of a short story, part of a short story, several very short stories/pieces, or part of something longer (i.e. a novel or novella). The same applies for poetry and creative non-fiction/essay -- whole works or parts of works are acceptable. (Bear in mind, however, that parts of works should not be so small, fragmentary and/or isolated as to be incoherent. Meaning: please don't send ten pages of fragments of sonnets). Writing samples do not have to be in the same genre as the course you want to take, though we recommend that you apply with your strongest work, whether that be fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, or some combination of the three. The writing sample should be typed and double-spaced (poems do not need to be double-spaced, and multiple poems can appear on a page) and should be submitted as either a Microsoft Word or PDF file.

If you want to study TV Writing (Writers' Room) during your time at the Studio, your sample should consist of: 1) a piece of dramatic writing (part of a script or play) not more than 5 pages; 2) the answer to the question, What is your favorite TV series and why? (not more than 2 pages); 3) the answer to the question, What is your favorite episode of that TV series and why? (not more than 3 pages). Your entire writing sample should not be more than 10 pages. In the dramatic writing sample, we are looking for writing that is vivid and interesting. In the answers to the questions about your favorite TV series and episode, we want to know what artistic aspects (narrative arc, suspense, characterization, atmosphere--whatever) you appreciate as a writer. The dramatic writing portion of the sample should be typed and spaced as you wish. The answers to the series/episode questions should be typed and double-spaced. The sample should be submitted as either a Microsoft Word or PDF file.

If you want to study playwriting during your time at the Studio, your sample should consist of: 1) a piece of dramatic writing (part of a play) not more than 5 pages; 2) the answer to the question, What is your favorite play and why? (not more than 2 pages); 3) the answer to the question, What is your favorite act or scene of that play and why? (not more than 3 pages). Your entire writing sample should not be more than 10 pages. In the dramatic writing sample, we are looking for writing that is vivid and interesting. In the answers to the questions about your favorite play and act/scene, we want to know what artistic aspects (narrative arc, suspense, characterization, atmosphere--whatever) you appreciate as a writer. The dramatic writing portion of the sample should be typed and spaced as you wish. The answers to the play and act/scene questions should be typed and double-spaced. The sample should be submitted as either a Microsoft Word or PDF file.

2. Statement of purpose

In 1-2 pages, tell us why you want to participate in the Studio and what you hope to accomplish here. You may want to discuss your writing sample or talk about writers or works that you admire. This is a chance for us to get to know you a little bit from your own words. The statement of purpose should be typed and double-spaced and should be submitted as either a Microsoft Word or PDF file.

3. Letter of recommendation

Your letter of recommendation should be from an English teacher or other writing instructor/tutor/mentor who is familiar with your writing. Guidelines for recommenders can be found here. The letter of recommendation should be submitted as either a read-only Microsoft Word or PDF file. Please do not submit more than one letter of recommendation.

4. Transcript

You must submit a transcript from your high school (an unofficial transcript is fine if an official transcript cannot be uploaded or emailed). There is no minimum GPA requirement for admission to the 2-week online camp, but we must see that you are enrolled and engaged in school.

How do I submit?

During the Application Period, you must complete these 3 steps:

STEP 1: COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION

Register free at Submittable and enter your basic information. The application page will not be available until the Application Period begins. You will be taken to the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio application. You will be asked a few more questions and have the opportunity to upload your writing sample and statement of purpose (Microsoft Word document or PDF only). Please upload your writing sample and statement of purpose as separate files. You will also be given the chance to choose your session preference. Session preferences do not influence acceptance decisions.

STEP 2: UPLOAD YOUR LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION

Ask your recommender to upload his or her letter of recommendation (Microsoft Word read-only document or PDF). The letter upload page will not be available until the Application Period begins. Your recommender will have to register (free) at Submittable in order to upload the letter. After your recommender uploads the letter, only your recommender will receive a confirmation in Submittable. You, the applicant, will not be able to see the letter of recommendation in your Submittable profile. If you have any doubt as to whether your letter of recommendation has been uploaded, please check with your recommender before contacting the Studio.

STEP 3: UPLOAD YOUR TRANSCRIPT

Have your high school upload your transcript (Microsoft Word read-only document or PDF). The transcript upload page will not be available until the Application Period begins. Your high school administrator will have to register (free) at Submittable in order to upload the transcript. After your high school uploads the transcript, only your high school will receive a confirmation in Submittable. You, the applicant, will not be able to see your transcript in your Submittable profile. If you have any doubt as to whether your transcript has been uploaded, please check with your high school before contacting the Studio.

Is there a cost to apply?

There is a $10 reading fee to apply to Online Camp 2021. The fee can be paid in Submittable during the application process. The reading fee goes directly to the highly-qualified writers--students and graduates of the Iowa Writers' Workshop--who read and evaluate the writing samples. These writers read with great attention and care, and we believe in compensating them for their work. However, we do not want the fee to be an impediment to any applicant, and are happy to waive the fee without penalty for students who are unable to pay. The online application will give you the option of bypassing the fee.

What if my recommender or high school cannot upload my letter or transcript into Submittable?

If absolutely necessary, letters of recommendation and transcripts can be e-mailed to the Studio at iyws@uiowa.edu. Please write LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION or TRANSCRIPT in the subject line. Transcripts can also be e-mailed to us via Parchment.

When will I find out whether or not I’ve been accepted?

Decisions will be e-mailed to all applicants on April 9, 2021.

What happens if I’m accepted?

Accepted students must reserve their place in the session, and in their preferred course, by making full payment of $575 by May 14, 2021. A $100 cancellation fee will be applied to refunds for cancellations recieved by June 1, 2021. Thereafter no refunds are available. 

What if I have questions about applying?

Please direct all questions about the application process to iyws@uiowa.edu or 319-335-4209.

We look forward to reading your work!