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Writing a College App Essay or Personal Statement

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Writing Advice from a College Essay Consultant

Imagine if colleges could personally interview all their applicants before deciding who will receive an acceptance or a rejection. It will surely give them a better picture of each student; a glimpse at what their grades, test scores, and formal resumes do not show. That is the purpose of the college essay or the personal statement. This is the place to showcase not only your writing skills but to expose a bit of who you are because you are surely far more than numbers. This is one of those rare times in life where you can essentially brag a bit.

Most experts emphasize remaining concise (as though you have an option with a suggested word maximum at the top of the page), congenial, (because what other way is there to be when you are trying to get into their school), honest and accurate. Actually, at the top of that list should be original.

Yes, you can certainly flex your intellectual muscles, but creating a vivid and interesting anecdote is of utmost importance. That opening sentence better catch the reader’s attention or you can be sure that they will have moved on to the next applicant rather than continuing. The same goes for your topic. While being unique may sound daunting, it can also be imperative. Yours should be the essay that the reader goes home thinking about that evening.

You may want to start by deciding which topic appeals to you, then begin brainstorming ideas, but don’t dismiss anything until you hit on the one that you think can be impressive, funny, reveal something great about you, or all of the above. Don’t stress about the word limit until you are ready to begin editing. Get all your ideas out first; edit later. Remember the word cap may suggest 650 words, but that does not mean it has to be that long either. If you can make yourself memorable in half that amount, that’s fantastic.

Remember, this isn’t a complete autobiography. Narrow your focus by picking a specific experience, unusual hobby, or trait that uncovers something personal and makes you into the human readers would want to represent their college. If you are concerned that your chosen topic is somewhat common, then make it stand out in another way. An essay about sky diving, why you love painting with watercolors, or the time your grandfather taught you how to do magic tricks can be thought-provoking as it provides insight into you as a person.

There is no shame in asking for help. Whether you ask your parents or peers what they think makes you different or you get professional help, like from Essential Essays College Essay Consulting, taking the stress out of writing your college application essays or personal statements for graduate school, will make it go faster and be far less painful. Particularly this year, when many colleges are forgoing standardized test scores; the application essay may count more than ever.

If your student is considering Grad School, read out the blog, Preparing for Grad School Exams for tips and information on test prep, tutoring, and university-specific exam services.

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Susanne Hale is the owner of Essential Essays College Essay Consulting, a mom blogger for HaveUHeard (she is the mom of three college graduates. She is a former high school teacher who focused on dropout prevention and subsequently authored the novel, Shades of Gray, a contemporary romance book that draws upon her own years teaching at-risk students at a New York City public high school.
2020-09-15T11:39:47-04:000 Comments

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