Coauthored by Jason Vallozzi, Founder, Campus to Career Crossroads & Marisa De Marco-Costanzo, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Ivy & Quill. This blog has been re-posted from Jason Vallozzi’s blog: https://campustocareercrossroads.com/why-you-need-to-brainstorm-at-the-beach/ For further information regarding comprehensive college consulting services, please contact Jason Vallozzi directly at Campus to Career Crossroads.
summer beach season is in full swing, many rising seniors struggle with why
they need to brainstorm at the beach about their personal statement for their college
application. Some rising seniors
may even have supplemental essays to write for college admissions or honors
colleges. As the college admissions process is
more competitive than ever for all students, a one draft script is not sufficient.
statement is the heart and soul of the college application. One critical aspect of an effective
personal statement is thoughtful and reflective brainstorming. It allows a
student to bring forward his/her story in a unique and distinct manner. It
is so amazing to read a developed student
personal statement that is not over-edited or parent influenced, allowing the student’s voice to
Marco-Costanzo, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Ivy & Quill Admission
Essay Consulting and Editing Services, has assisted thousands of students
domestically and internationally to have their best voice come forward in their personal statement and additional required
essays. I have asked her to share
some helpful advice on how rising seniors can start the brainstorming process. These are her
“When students are faced with the daunting yet exciting task of
developing their personal statements, they honestly don’t know where to
begin and tend to put it off since it may be intimidating to start an
essay—especially one about their lives. Time and time again, students
have expressed to me that they feel a great sense of pressure to tell a
poignant and memorable story to college admissions officers yet they
have no idea where to begin and they don’t really know what to say.
In order to put them at ease, I always start off our initial
brainstorming and background information meeting by letting them know
that the process of developing their personal statement can be broken
down into steps, which leads to the final draft. Instead of thinking
about the “big picture”, it’s better to approach it in smaller parts
that organically come together. In this way, students can put their
energies into becoming reflective, deep thinkers and storytellers rather
than being too overwhelmed, which impedes their creative thinking
processes and memory recall.
If a student doesn’t have the possibility to work with an independent
consultant, they can go through the brainstorming process on their own
and can partake in a “stream of thought” journaling activity that
becomes enjoyable and most importantly, informative. One can either
write their ideas down on a piece of paper or type them up on the
computer so later on, they can refer back to their thoughts.
A student can start out by reflecting upon some guiding questions
that they can respond to in order to start the brainstorming process.
These questions include:
- What are my academic areas of interests and why am I drawn to these areas?
- What has been a major academic challenge for me and what steps have I taken to make improvements?
- What do I intend to study at college and why do I want to pursue this area? Why is this area important to me?
- What is my most enjoyable and/or important extracurricular activity
and why have I committed to it? How has this activity positively
impacted me and shaped my character?
- What is one of the most memorable experiences that I have ever
experienced? Why is this experience important to me? How has it impacted
- What is something that I would never change about my life and why?
- How has my family upbringing impacted my life choices and who I am as a person as a result?
- What is the most meaningful and important thing about my life?
- What has been a major obstacle that I have had to face and how did I
overcome it or what steps I am taking at present to overcome it?
- Was there ever I time where I felt excluded from a group? If so, how
did it make me feel and what did I do to navigate the situation?
Once the student gets their ideas down, they will go back and read
through them in order to “pull out” some possible topic ideas for their
personal statement. Yet ultimately, they will settle on a topic that can
best be adapted to match one of the Common App prompts and that can be
translated into a personal narrative essay that shows creativity and
Writing is a classical communication skill that stands the test of time. So instead of looking at your upcoming personal statement as another “college to-do item,” take the time to consider it as an opportunity to enhance your writing abilities. Perhaps, sharpening your writing skills may even launch you back to the beach in a professional position that affords you a generous salary and paid vacation days.
About the guest coauthor, Jason Vallozzi, Founder, Campus to Career Crossroads:
mission at Campus to Career Crossroads is to develop a supportive and
individualized partnership with students and their
families in order to help them successfully navigate the transitional and
complex stages from high school to career. Jason
possesses over fourteen years of experience in post-secondary admissions and
over four years of high-level talent acquisition in the retained executive
search world which brings valuable insights to his clients.
Jason is an active member of numerous professional associations
such as the Independent Educational Consultants Association, National
Association for College Admission Counseling, and Pennsylvania Association for
College Admissions Counseling. He is the Regional Leader for the Western
Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan chapter in the Independent Educational
Consultant Association. Jason is
also involved in continuing professional development courses through the UCLA
Extension College Counseling program.
He is a magnum cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh
with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications.
For inquiries about one on one college to career planning services, please visit www.campustocareercrossroads.com