SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- When Julius Gottilla was asked to present a College Essay Workshop to seniors at Union Catholic this past Wednesday, he jumped at the chance.

“I am grateful that, after fifty years in the classroom, I can still make some contribution,’’ said Gottilla, who taught AP Language and Composition at Union Catholic for several years. “The students in attendance were attentive. Some had questions.  One has already emailed me her college essay for feedback.  Working directly with students is what I enjoy most. I hope that the tips I provided proved helpful.’’

UC senior Arminder Singh said the workshop was very informative. 

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 “I found the workshop very concise and informative,’’ said Singh. “I learned that a good college essay needs to have a perfect balance of being concise and descriptive of a particular aspect of yourself, all while having a personal touch to it to make the essay relatable. I also learned that the essay should be as specific as possible on a particular topic.’’

Singh said he’s grateful that Gottilla took the time to share his wisdom.               

“I’m very glad Mr. Gottilla took the time out to share his knowledge to help us on our college essay,’’ said Singh. “I hope that in future years we can have another workshop for future graduating classes.’’

Gottilla offered suggestions and tips during the workshop. 

“Limit your topic and be specific,’’ said Gottilla. “Student writers tend to "skew generic" when they should in fact, take refuge in the concrete particulars of their lives.  College essays, like most writing, are more engaging when they focus on the so-called little things that are significant to the writer. Of course the college essay has the responsibility of showing a side of the student that may not be revealed in the formal application, a narrative, perhaps, that demonstrates (without preaching) some positive quality or growth.  I concluded by urging students not to procrastinate but to plunge directly into a narrative or topic without the expectation that a first draft be polished or readily compelling--that the judging and editing can come later.''  

Mr. Mike Conte, a school counselor a Union Catholic, was very appreciative that Mr. Gottilla took the time to speak to the students, and felt the workshop was very beneficial.

“We are so grateful to Mr. Gottilla for sharing his wisdom with our students to help strengthen their college essay,’’ said Mr. Conte. “His tips and tricks will certainly enhance our seniors’ applications.’’

Union Catholic (1600 Martine Ave., Scotch Plains) prepares a diverse student body to fulfill their college and career goals by cultivating the students' achievement of academic standards of excellence within a value-centered environment, strong in its commitment to our core values (respect, responsibility, honesty, compassion, and community), and to the establishment of a community of faith and love in the Catholic tradition. For more information, call (908) 889-1600 or visit