For Parents

Dear Parents,

If your child is showing you this letter, it means he or she is interested in attending the Alpha Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Workshop for Young Writers at the University of Pittsburgh, Greensburg.

What is the Alpha Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Workshop for Young Writers?

Alpha is a residential writers’ workshop designed for teenagers who enjoy writing science fiction, fantasy and/or horror. Like residential writers’ workshop for adults, it will feature a number of professional writers who will work with the teenaged writers. This workshop will run for eleven days and will be open to students between the ages of 14 and 19. The students will be kept busy the entire time, writing, researching, critiquing, listening to presentations by authors, and giving public readings of their own work.

There are many issues to address in order to allay any concerns you may have. Expense. Housing. Meals. Travel. Safety. As parents, we understand. Let’s go through them one by one.


Workshop tuition is $1200, which includes a single, furnished dorm room, three meals a day (dinner on the first day,  through breakfast on the last), and transportation to evening events (such as the readings at Barnes & Noble). Not included: transportation to and from Pittsburgh.  Students can share contact information before the workshop, so joint travel to and from Pittsburgh is possible.


The price of the workshop includes a private room (with door lock and key) in an air-conditioned suite containing four bedrooms, two baths, a fully-equipped kitchen and living room. Students are encouraged to bring their own laptop computer, if possible, and to let the staff know if they do not own one. Female and male students are housed in separate areas. There are washers and dryers in each dorm. Each room is carpeted, and has a desk, chair, bureau, closet, twin bed and a window. Linens (towels, sheets, blankets) will be provided. The dorms are two stories tall and fairly new; one suite per dorm is equipped for the handicapped, and all buildings are handicap accessible.


Meals during the workshop will normally be taken at the college cafeteria which has an extensive selection of food and drink, in an all-you-can-eat style: daily selections, which we can suggest to the cook for our workshop, and stationary set-ups including a pasta bar, a salad bar, a pizza station, dessert cart and Belgian waffle/ice cream station. Vegetarian students won’t have difficulty finding a healthy diet.


The branch campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Greensburg is over an hour away from the Pittsburgh International Airport.  Alpha will provide transportation from the airport to campus. Departure should be from Greater Pittsburgh International Airport. Students who take a bus or train to downtown Pittsburgh, Monroeville or Greensburg will be met and driven to the University of Pittsburgh branch campus. Free on-campus parking is available. After the workshop, we’ll see that each student gets directly to their transportation home.

Safety Issues

Cell phones are encouraged on the premises, so you can keep in touch with your teen at all times. No smoking is allowed in the dormitories. The drinking age in Pennsylvania is twenty-one, and is rigorously observed. The Greensburg branch campus is situated in a secluded rural housing neighborhood, away from commercial districts. Staff members will be on hand at all times.

If we’ve raised more questions than we’ve answered, at least we’ve got you thinking! Consider this a dialogue. Let’s work together to squeeze the most “sense of wonder” out of this experience for our young adults.

If you have unanswered questions, please feel free to contact us.