Even though you really want to enjoy that summer before your senior year, you may want to really contemplate not wasting it away on fun and laziness. One important assignment that every soon-to-be high school senior can fulfill this summer is to practice writing his or her personal statement. Did you know that in the highly competitive college application process, if there is a field of applicants with similar grades, test scores, and involvement or community service hours, a strong essay could definitely increase your chances of being accepted to the college of your choice?
Some of the colleges you apply to may ask you to answer specific essay questions, but there are now 488 colleges and/or universities that rely on the standardized online Common Application form. And, this application requires you to write a personal statement between 500-650 words! In addition, the new prompts for the 2013-2014 Common Application will require you to provide more insight and self-reflection than in previous years.
According to Lynn Haney Trowbridge, “a strong topic is the key to a winning essay.” However, she states that many students “are so intimidated about coming up with an original idea that they get stuck at this stage.”
Trowbridge advises students to relax. Students need to realize that college admissions officers don’t expect a 17 or 18 year old to write a masterpiece or be able to write about being a hero or heroine. What the admissions officers want, says Trowbridge, is for you “to give them an honest account of something you are passionate about and that helped you grow.” And, she adds, “If at all possible, keep [your essay] optimistic and lighthearted.”
So, think of your passion and practice writing about it and how it has shaped your life. Is your passion working with physically challenged children, or is your passion playing a musical instrument? Maybe your passion is drawing or creating something on a computer. If you are still stuck for an idea look to your family and see if there is someone who inspired you to be “you.”
Just brainstorm and try writing about a variety of different things that provide insight to who you are. Susie Watts, a private college counselor, says, “I think a great way to help students brainstorm different college essay topics is to suggest they write a letter to their future college roommate.”
And if you are still having a difficult time with the writing process or coming up with ideas, that is where we can help. We offer two seminars during the summer to assist you! These are our “Write It Right” classes scheduled for June 29-30 and August 10-11. Please visit our Events Calendar for more information.