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Articles / Applying to College / Public Speaking or Writing Class?

Public Speaking or Writing Class?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Sept. 4, 2013

Question: I have a question concerning my schedule. Should I take public speaking or writers workshop? Writers workshop is a course my school offers that teaches you how to write college essays and essays in college. My schedule only allows me to choose one and I don’t know which one to pick.

I’m really bad at class presentations but I’m also nervous about writing college essays and I feel like I can’t do it by myself.

Which is more important or better and more suited for me? Thank you 🙂

In terms of “currency” with college admission officers, it probably doesn’t matter which of these two classes you take, so you should choose the one that interests you the most and/or which best fits in your schedule. But if you can’t make a decision and thus you want me to choose for you (something that “The Dean” really shouldn’t do without having a lot more info), I recommend the writing class. As you’ve noted, it will potentially help you with your application essays. And, above all, writing is a skill that you will desperately need as you go through college and beyond. Moreover, depending on what the class curriculum covers, you might even produce a creative piece or two that you could send to colleges as supplementary material.

While public speaking is also a valuable life skill, it’s something that you can develop through an extracurricular activity (e.g., debate society/forensics, Model UN, student government). Your speaking skills should improve (and your jitters subside) with experience, even without instruction. So “The Dean” casts a vote for the writers workshop.


Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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