Summer is coming to a close and the school year beckons. And so do college applications for you incoming high school seniors. One of the many perks of being a Writopia Lab instructor is that I get to be a part of this life-affirming process.
Wait, did she say life-affirming?
I did. Striving for a goal is life-affirming. Figuring out who you are is life-affirming, and there is nowhere else you have to fine-tune your essence so carefully as in the personal essay. You can either love it or hate it, but everyone's got to do it, and one thing each college applicant has to make sure of is that their personal essay is... personal. Yep, that it reflects you and how you've come to view the world.
Despite their reputation, by definition personal essays should not bore the reader. YOU are not boring. You have something to say, something to offer, and something to learn. You may have way too much to say and you may start to panic and worry that your essay will never fit into the 500 word limit on the Common Application. But you'll choose your words carefully and it will fit.
Colleges are looking for four simple things from students and their essays: curiosity, humility, honesty, and self-reflection. You can write about anything, as long as it has these qualities and it is in your own voice. You can even go over the word limit - the admissions officer won't be counting if every word matters and you keep their attention.
Curiosity, humility, honesty and self-reflection. Those are worthy goals for ourselves and our relationships, so it's no surprise that it's what the colleges want from you, the applicant. Let your essay show that your intellect, emotions, and spirit are ready to be fully engaged.
Affirm your life and let them know who you are!