Many students get caught up in the hype of the personal statement. You hear about it from your friends, it's featured in movies and Lifetime specials, it's talked about in your classes, and even those college admissions officers mention it too...So, should you feel pressure? Nah...Admit U's Erica Salmon offers some perspective on how to craft that perfect "personal statement" and remain cool throughout the process.
At Admit U, we spend a good amount of time helping students create a personal statement (and other writing supplements) that are compelling and memorable
The Essay is the 650-word (or less, please!) personal statement where kids can shine. Admissions officers pour over thousands of applications in which much of it looks pretty much the same: similar GPAs, similar SAT/ACT scores, similar types of activities. It is through The Essay that students can stand out and show a little bit more of what makes them unique or what makes them tick.
My favorite part of working with students in the college application process is helping students craft their personal statements ...otherwise known as The Essay. Tall order, I know! Here are some of our coaching strategies:
1. GIVE A SNAPSHOT
We work with students to help them show a lot about themselves in one story/anecdote/concept. The essay is not meant to tell a student's life story from birth to age 17. That would be, well, boring.
"We help students find their story, whether it is something big or something mundane," Admit U Founder Melanie Talesnick says. "It is important to tell the college what you want them to know, not what you think they want to hear."
One meaningful, poignant or funny snapshot can capture enough that the admissions team feels like they "get" you and how you would fit into their college community.
2. BE AUTHENTIC
Simply put, we do not let our students make stuff up or even stretch the truth. A seasoned college admissions officer can sniff that out in a heartbeat.
"When students try too hard to write about something that they don't feel connected to, the essay loses its authenticity, " Talesnick believes.
After all of this time and energy spent in finding a good fit, you want to make sure you are putting forth a genuine portrait of yourself so that everything adds up at the end.
3. NO PROBLEMS? NO PROBLEM!
Not every student comes to us with a tragedy to write about, and that's a wonderful thing! Students often feel like if they don't have a "major" life occurrence to write about, then they won't stand out as an applicant. But that is simply not the case.
Admissions officers often talk about memorable essays that aren't about the loss of a loved one or a battle with a life-threatening disease. Sometimes low-key topics are better than tragic ones. I remember working with a student who wanted to write about his fascination with crows. His mom was skeptical, but I convinced her to let him go with it. The essay was extremely well written, and he did an exceptional job of exposing his own personality through his discussion on crows. His passion on the subject came through. It was real, authentic, and memorable.
4. WORK WITH A PRO
So ... this sounds like a lot to ask a 17-year-old, right? Come up with one personal snapshot that is authentic and memorable, and not to mention grammatically solid. Do not worry! We are here to help.
Admit U offers one-on-one essay coaching in addition to its other college counseling services. We work with students from start to finish to help them create a personal statement (as well as any additional writing supplements needed) that help students stand out in the admissions process. Students and parents who have worked with the Admit U team can attest to how invaluable the one-on-one essay coaching is.
New this year...Admit U is offering an essay camp. Our counselors and essay coaches will help students brainstorm, write, edit, and polish their personal statements. This three-day camp affords students the opportunity to work in both a small group setting and one-on-one with a specialist. By offering an intensive three-day workshop, students will compose a unique essay for use with their Common Application and/or Coalition Application. The camp is limited to 10 students per session, so if you are interested, please contact the Admit U team soon.