By Rahel Solomon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — High school students from around the region will try to get a head start on the college application process Friday at St. Joseph’s University during a college preparation event.

The free event is designed for future first generation college students and includes instructors and programs to simplify the process. One of the programs students will be introduced to is EssayDog.

EssayDog is a new computer software program that uses specific prompts and video tutorials to help students craft a strong, story-driven personal statement for college applications.

“I hope it helps me write more, write more than I’m comfortable with,” said student Adam Bennett of the Science Leadership Academy at Beeber.

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The program was developed by two Hollywood screenwriters and teaches high school students common elements of a great story: concepts like including a setback and then a conclusion or discovery.

Teddy Barnes, President of Educational Advancement at EssayDog, tells Eyewitness News despite the SATs in recent years making the essay component optional, strong writing is still valued for colleges and even employers.

“I know there’s some sort of retraction with the SATs, with the writing, but just knowing what the colleges want and what they’re looking for in a strong applicant, the essays are critical,” said Barnes.

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Students like Haniah Jones, also of Science Leadership Academy at Beeber, said the program has helped her put her thoughts on paper. “ I know going to a technology-based school and using laptops, sometimes I think ‘well, what do I want to write?’” Jones said, adding “Watching the videos as well, it helps you develop it.”

Jordon Constantine of Lower Merion High School already considers himself a strong writer but said the program is just another way to write.

“People tend to put a bad light on writing. They think you have to have such a big writing talent but if you sit down and do it, it’s easy,” Constantine said, adding “Now whether it’s good or not is another story.”

The cost of the EssayDog software is $49. Barnes encourages students or parents considering the product but burdened by the cost to reach out directly to the company to discuss other arrangements.