College Personal Statement otherwise known as The Essay
So those who want to get the process of college applications going, you should know that the majority of the applications for the class entering the Fall of 2016 are not typically available to start until August. Some schools that offer rolling admissions and others that have special early programs, such as Wake Forest, have applications available as early as June. However, the majority of schools’ online applications and the Common Application are not released to be completed until August.
However, the essay prompts are! Yes, and you should really start thinking about your essay or Personal Statement as it is truly called now. Here are the 2015-2016 Prompts from the Common Application
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
2.The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
3.Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
4.Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
5.Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
So take a few minutes to think about each one and jot down some thoughts. Which do you feel you have a story, which you can reflect on, that best tells a college about you. Want some professional guidance and support, contact us! This statement is the best option you have to give the college a personal look at you. Think about what is not available from your transcripts, test scores, recommendations and guidance counselor report.
How to best go about writing your statement? Well, personally, I like the students to write their own statements. I feel the student’s voice is critical. There are many loving people who offer to review, edit and help, and end up changing the entire essay so that it reads nothing like a student would write on his or her own. I once had a very supportive parent rewrite her daughter’s essay and included a list of bullet points of her “key accomplishments, take-a-ways, and skills built” as if it were a business presentation! Gently, I reminded that parent that it was nice and very comprehensive, but it was not the work of her daughter as required, and her product was nothing that any college would embrace.
Be genuine! Yes, the tone can be conversational but not too personal. Tell your story but remember this is an essay not a creative writing assignment or a work of fiction. One or two anecdotal references are nice but you need to disclose your own experience, reflection, learning, and awareness. Mention how you are who you are because of this event or experience. What did it do to make you aware today? What will it do for you as you transition into college? Again, we are here to help you and you can reach out to us for some support.
This is not a school assignment. Do not expect to be done with one draft! Write a lot at first, and then pare it down. Expect three or four different versions to be done before you are ready to include it in your application. I always suggest one or two outside readers for help. Certainly any grammar changes or suggestions should be taken under advisement, but when someone wants to change your content simply because he or she thinks it is a better sell, know you do not have to change your essay topic because someone in your school wants you too. This is your story.
Ideally, you should have this statement done in the most edited and refined form by August 1st. You will have your guidance or college counselor at school give you feedback in the fall, but once again, you do not have to change anything if you like it! That said, anything grammatically wrong really needs to be corrected. This is important-spelling, grammar, and language are important. Be personal but also professional. You can interject some humor, and you can offer something personal, but the writing must be correct. Happy writing!