In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.”
School is almost out and the idea of taking in some sun, traveling, hanging out with friends, reading a great book, going to concerts, seeing an awesome summer flick at the movie theater, or even earning some money by doing a summer job or taking on an internship are all valid thoughts that should rightfully be on the forefront of your mind. Yet for better or for worse, there is something else to add to this list…and that is, plan for the Personal Statement.
For those of you who don’t know what the Personal Statement is or you have kind of heard about it but don’t really fully grasp why it is important, this essay is considered to be your true moment to shine when applying to college. Of course, schools will highly consider your grades, SAT/ACT scores, honors and achievements, and extracurricular participation throughout your high school career. In theory, admissions officers will see you in terms of stats rather than as the individual that you truly are. Yet once they read your Personal Statement, they start to get a sense of how you live your life, perceive the world around you, what you value, and how you have been shaped into the person you are. (Helpful reference: a Personal Statement is a personal narrative essay that is about 650 words which tells your unique story that nicely matches up with one of the given Common App or Coalition App prompts. For more information, check out this article.
The Personal Statement (along with the supplemental essays required by some schools) may seem challenging at first and quite frankly, it can come off as being intimidating. Yet once you digest the fact that this essay is all about YOU, you should start to feel more confident since you actually know yourself/your story best. At this point, this is when you can start to do some “soul searching” and inner reflection through the form of brainstorming. Once you start to reflect on various life events and experiences that could be worth telling, you can then go into developing an outline that could help you organize your thoughts. For tips on choosing an essay prompt that aligns with one of your defining experiences, talents, or strengths check out our strategies for topic selection.
Once you have settled upon your idea, you can flow into the drafting process. After you have roughly written down your story, you will go back to clarify the essay’s content. This self-revision process will take multiple rounds of review and making changes. Once you feel good about how your essay has developed, it is a wise idea to ask a trusted friend and/or family member to look over your Personal Statement so that they can give you feedback. Or even better, you can always reach out to a professional admission essay coach, who is truly a valuable resource. (We’re here to help you, just reach out and ask how to learn more.)
Once the content and structure of the essay are set, you have arrived at the final step, which is the editing and proofreading process. This entails carefully evaluating language/word choices, the stylistic tone, ensuring that you have spelled all words correctly, and that you have used English grammar and punctuation correctly.
As expressed above, the process of developing an outstanding Personal Statement takes time. Therefore, give yourself the summer before senior year to go through these steps without feeling the immense pressure that the start of school brings.