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The UltraViolet

Marlborough School Student Newspaper
The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

Meet Deborah Banner, the senior class savior

Dinah ’25
Deborah Banner works with Reilly ‘24.

Deborah Banner, English Instructor and Dean of Gender Studies and Feminism, is the guiding voice for seniors writing their personal statements and supplemental essays for college applications, working directly with almost 80% of the current senior class. 

Banner assumed the position as the leader and coordinator of the essay-writing consultation support offered to Marlborough seniors after the previous teacher who created the position left the school. Banner, along with a team of English instructors and college counselors, lead two five-day long summer writing workshops in June and August. 

The June workshop focuses on the Common App personal statement, which is 650 words and can be used for applications to over 1,000 schools. Every year, supplemental and UC applications open by August and students begin to focus on the additional essays required for their applications. Between Banner’s one-on-one guidance and guest speaker appearances from admission recruiters invited by Marlborough’s college counselors, students access a wide variety of support networks throughout the writing process. 

The support Banner offers is particularly valuable because the restrictive word limit and unique prompts make college essay writing unlike any other form of writing students have been exposed to. 

“It’s not like any essay you’ve written at Marlborough,” Natalie ‘24 said. “It’s not like creative writing you do outside of Marlborough; it’s a whole new genre, and I think Dr. Banner really helps in terms of understanding this very specific and niche style of writing.” 

For Banner, essay consulting allows her to explore a new form of English instruction while getting to know students on a more personal level. 

“It’s a form of writing coaching where I’m not grading anything, so the conversations that we have about how to improve your writing are really coming from the angle that we’re both on the same team,” Banner said. 

On top of having a strong beginning, middle and end, as well as telling a story that is representative of your authentic self, Banner believes that students must take center stage in their writing. 

“I think a lot of Marlborough students struggle with that because it feels like you’re bragging about yourself, and you’re not supposed to brag about yourself, but you have to really talk about how you feel about the experience you’re discussing,” Banner said. “You have to take credit for your achievements.”

Although she understands the pressures students are under to build impressive resumes and experiences to discuss in their essays, Banner encourages students to spend their free time in a way that feels meaningful and fulfilling, advising against participating in activities for the sake of looking good for a college application. 

“Happy people make good college applicants and great students, so do what makes you feel really happy and that is probably the smartest way to prepare,” Banner said.

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