Rutgers & HEROES Create New Programs for Gifted Teen Writers

Rutgers and HEROES will award $2,100 in Writing Talent Search Scholarships and create writing courses for gifted teens
Nov. 8, 2010 - PRLog -- Rutgers Writing Program and Higher Education, Resources and Opportunities for Exceptional Students (“HEROES”) today announced new initiatives to meet the needs of New Jersey's most talented young writers. Rutgers and HEROES will award $2,100 in scholarships for a Writing Talent Search and have worked to create new writing courses for gifted teens.

The purpose of the Writing Talent Search is to identify gifted teen writers while raising awareness to a growing problem of inadequate writing skills among college-bound high school graduates. According to Michael Goeller, Associate Director of Rutgers Writing Program, one quarter of all incoming freshmen must take remedial writing courses and as many as one half of all students enrolled in Expository Writing (a.k.a. Comp 101) fail their first essay. Mr. Goeller states that “High schools are not doing what is necessary to prepare their brightest students for the demands of college writing. They are teaching them the minimum to prepare them to take standardized tests. Through the Writing Talent Search and new sections of Basic Composition and Expository Writing, we hope to address those issues.”

The Writing Talent Search will evaluate middle school and high school students based on the grading rubric used for Expository Writing. For the initial round, students will submit an on-line assignment but the final round will be conducted at Rutgers – New Brunswick. Each participating student will receive individualized comments from instructors from Rutgers Writing Program. Sixteen finalists will be chosen to compete for four scholarships totaling $2,100. The scholarships will be funded by HEROES and Rutgers Division of Continuing Studies (“DoCS”). Finalists will also have the opportunity to work on their writing with Rutgers faculty. Finalists, semi-finalists and honorable mentioned will be invited to attend an awards ceremony in May where they will receive special recognition for their writing talent.

Writing Talent Search participants may also qualify to enroll in new sections of Basic Composition and Expository Writing that are designed for students under the age of 16 who have demonstrated college level writing skills. While it is not uncommon for gifted young students to enroll in university math and science classes, gifted young writers rarely enroll in university writing courses. As Rita Ostrager, whose son enrolled in Expository Writing at age 11 explains in Searching for Shakespeare ( , “Although he earned a B in [Expository Writing], he encountered age related issues that had not existed for the advanced math and science classes that he has taken. For example one assigned text was Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, one of my favorite books and a completely appropriate selection for most college students but certainly not something that a prepubescent boy could possibly comprehend.”

To address this issue, Rutgers will begin offering special sections of Basic Composition and Expository Writing that will use the same standards and curriculum as all other sections of these courses but use reading selections that will be developmentally appropriate for students under the age of 16.  The special sections of Expository Writing will debut in Spring 2011 with two hybrid sections and one Saturday section.  Special sections of both courses will also be offered during Summer 2011.

Additional information may be found at

Rita Ostrager
President & Founder

Michael Goeller
Associate Director, Rutgers Writing Program
Director of Instructional Technology
Summer Coordinator for Plangere and the Writing Program
100 Coordinator

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HEROES is a NJ non-profit corporation committed to promoting the educational, social and emotional development of exceptionally gifted students by:
- Identifying exceptionally gifted students
- Creating educational resources for the exceptionally gifted
- Informing parents, educators and exceptionally gifted students about appropriately challenging educational opportunities
- Reducing barriers that prevent exceptionally gifted students from accessing educational opportunities that can meet their needs
- Creating opportunities for exceptionally gifted students to interact socially

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