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Precollege Crash Courses

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Welcome to Smith Precollege Crash Courses, the academic component of our online offerings. These intensive weekend courses are taught by Smith Precollege academic directors in subjects such as writing, women and gender studies, science and engineering, and field studies.

Crash Courses Schedule

Creating Compelling Characters: How to Create Engrossing, Complex Characters

January 23, 2021
Zoom | Instructor: Peter Sapira

Ayn Rand asked two questions to determine the quality of a story: “Would I want to meet these characters in real life? Is the pleasure of contemplating these characters an end in itself?” In this four-hour workshop, we will explore the art of developing voice, point-of-view and complexity to help you produce a ‘yes’ to both of  Rand’s questions.



College-Level Scientific Research

February 27–28, 2021
Zoom | Instructor: Meg Thacher

High school and college students do a lot of research. Research papers, theses, lab reports—all require research. But where do you go to find good sources? What’s the best way to take notes, organize them and present them in a paper? We’ll find the way that works best for you. In this six-hour hands-on, discussion-based course, students will choose a topic and explore and share resources.



Writing and Comprehending Lab Reports

March 6–7, 2021
Zoom | Instructor: Meg Thacher

Science students will write hundreds of lab reports throughout high school and college, but why? A lab report is just a version of a professional journal article. If you want to become a scientist, writing lab reports is not just an exercise you have to do for a particular class, it’s training for science communication. In this two-day, six-hour crash course, we will become familiar with the different parts of the lab report and learn simple, effective methods for writing them.


Where Exactly is This Going? How to Design a Captivating, Cohesive Plot

March 20, 2021
Zoom | Instructor: Peter Sapira

Have you ever had a great story idea, but didn’t know how to begin, what to put in the middle or where it should end? In this course, we will use a combination of narrative techniques to help you create a plot for any story, from microfiction to a novel. You will learn where the story should begin, how to sustain tension in the middle and how to create a satisfying ending.



Peter Sapira

Peter Sapira, academic director for precollege creative writing and instructor, received his bachelor of arts in English from San Francisco State University and his master of fine arts in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In addition to his work with Precollege Programs, Peter also teaches composition and public speaking at Smith College.

As part of his work in the Smith College Jacobson Center for Writing, Teaching & Learning, he helps students write grant proposals, graduate school and internship applications and cover letters, as well as essays for classes across the curriculum.

Program Cost: $395 Per Course

Reduced pricing is available.Email for more info.



Precollege Programs
Precollege Crash Courses