Are you stumped? It’s mid-November, and those college admissions deadlines are growing ever so closer. If your Common Application is only completed as far as your siblings names and ages, it’s time to get cracking.
Seated in front of the white page on the blank computer screen, it taunts you. Yes, 500 words of intelligent, introspective narrative are lingering in the recesses of your brain. Bringing them to the forefront, and then out through your fingertips is another story altogether. Here are three simple suggestions:
- As you approach your personal statement, think in terms of a narrative story. In English, you have studied narrative writing, and no doubt studied the arc of narrative — building the tale to a climactic conflict and then resolution. While telling your tale, it’s also essential that the reader learn more about who you, the writer and often, the protagonist, are. As you weave your tale, consider how the ultimate conflict has enabled your change or growth.
- At this point, don’t worry about the groundbreaking originality of your essay. A seasoned admissions reader has read almost all of them before. A successful essay isn’t as much about the actual topic of the essay as it is about the approach the writer takes with the topic. In every collection of “I kicked the winning soccer goal” essays, or “ I was close to my dying grandfather” essays, there is a student who handles it with a fresh voice, personal insight and engrossing writing. The best essays start with a small moment in time, run long in the first draft, and complete their narrative arc.
- Are you still struggling? Instead of thinking about the 500 words you need to complete your personal statement, just start with a few sentences. In fact, write a few sentences about multiple topics, just to see which one might lead to the best essay.
It is however, time to start. Now. The best essays aren’t written in the 24 hours, or even 48 hour before the application deadline.