Are you tired of all of the statistics you have been hearing? Average GPA? Average test score? In my mind there is nothing “average” about the college selection process. Part of finding the right fit at a particular school is using all of your resources to literally put yourself on paper.
What is the best way to begin drafting your personal statement or admission essay? First of all, stop trying to form a strategy or create the snappiest opening line. This is your chance to honestly state your point of view. Using your own reality to answer the prompts while being thoughtful and clear in presenting your viewpoint will result in the best essay you could possibly write. Now for some nuts and bolts:
1. Be yourself. If you are funny, be funny. But if you lean towards the thoughtful and introspective then let that voice come through.
2. Write about something that they can’t find out from any other part of your application. In many cases, the essay takes the place of a personal conversation and as such should reflect what it would be like to talk to you.
3. There are reams of essays online that you can refer to. Take a look at one or two, read them and then write down what you learned about the writer from their essay. When you see what they have revealed about themselves, it will help you to decide what you are interested in talking about.
4. Don’t just talk about “what happened.” It is far more interesting to discuss the “why it matters to you” when picking a subject to write about.
5. Have a “blemish” on your record? The essay is your chance to meet that topic head on, explain how it affected you and how you met the challenge it represented to your life. No excuses, no whining, just a confident explanation of what happened and how you dealt with it.
6. Your goal is not THE PERFECT ESSAY. Your goal is to give the reader a slice of your life, an idea of what is important to you and a snapshot of your point of view.
I give my students a journal to keep with them before they begin the essay writing process. This is their “point of view” journal. I encourage them to write down observations, reactions to situations and issues that come up in their everyday life. This journal becomes a goldmine of resource material for their essays. I suggest beginning the essay writing process in the summer, long before the stress of the college application process goes into full swing. Just remember, in the end, all they really want to know is who are you, what are you passionate about and why is their school a good fit for you.