The one the teacher had assured us was a third of our grade. What happened? I had two options here. I could accept that I was in fact a D student despite what I had thought. Or I could study hard for the next test and try to bring my grade up by the force of the average.
It means I was lucky, or blessed, or anything else you want to call it. I have talent. The game just makes intuitive sense to me. It is far too easy to view talent as an excuse. For me, it is a motivator. For my talent, I will accept nothing less than a dream that only a tiny percentage of people ever get to experience.
Talent is a responsibility. Because you had nothing to do with acquiring it, you are compelled to achieve every last bit you can with it. While I had grown used to thinking varsity would be it, that was not the case. Now, I can focus on the goal while I accomplish the steps.
I was told that teens are moody. I would grow out of it. Diagnosis and medication have saved my life, allowing me to see the world as people without my brain chemistry would. It might sound bad—as though kindness can only exist in the smallest forms. This is not what I mean. There are extraordinary people out there who devote their lives to doing very large, very important things for others.
They are not the norm. What is normal are the tiny kindnesses. These do not cost a person much of anything. A slice of time, a moment of openness, and little else. And here are 3 college personal statements, about what drove their interest in their intended major:.
His parents had emigrated from Italy with his two eldest brothers in the early s in search of a better life in America. Their struggles as immigrants are in themselves inspiring, but the challenges they faced are undoubtedly similar to those that many other immigrant families had to overcome; because of this, the actions that my relatives embarked upon are that much more extraordinary. As a native English speaker who has had the privilege of studying viola and violin with trained, private teachers, I can only imagine the perseverance it took for my great-grandfather and great-great uncle to learn an instrument like the violin out of booklets and lessons that were not even written in their native language.
Their passion and dedication to learning something new, something not part of their lives as blue-collar, immigrant workers, and their desire to share it with others, has inspired me as a musician and a person. I rushed to the restroom to throw up because my throat was itchy and I felt a weight on my chest.
I was experiencing anaphylactic shock, which prevented me from taking anything but shallow breaths. I was fighting the one thing that is meant to protect me and keep me alive — my own body. I became scared of death, eating, and even my own body.
Ultimately, that fear turned into resentment; I resented my body for making me an outsider. In the years that followed, this experience and my regular visits to my allergy specialist inspired me to become an allergy specialist. Even though I was probably only ten at the time, I wanted to find a way to help kids like me.
I wanted to find a solution so that nobody would have to feel the way I did; nobody deserved to feel that pain, fear, and resentment. My shadowing experiences in particular have stimulated my curiosity and desire to learn more about the world around me. How does platelet rich plasma stimulate tissue growth? How does diabetes affect the proximal convoluted tubule? My questions never stopped.
I wanted to know everything and it felt very satisfying to apply my knowledge to clinical problems. It is hard to separate science from medicine; in fact, medicine is science. However, medicine is also about people—their feelings, struggles and concerns. Humans are not pre-programmed robots that all face the same problems. Humans deserve sensitive and understanding physicians. Humans deserve doctors who are infinitely curious, constantly questioning new advents in medicine.
They deserve someone who loves the challenge of problem solving and coming up with innovative individualized solutions. I want to be that physician. I want to be able to approach each case as a unique entity and incorporate my strengths into providing personalized care for my patients. Until that time, I may be found Friday mornings in the operating room, peering over shoulders, dreaming about the day I get to hold the drill. Ready to reuse your personal statement for scholarship applications?
Sign up for Going Merry today for free to keep track of your scholarship applications and essays. Back to all posts. A guide to writing the best personal statement for your college application with template and examples!
Kelly Lamano. Categories: Applying for Scholarships , Scholarship Essays. Jump to:. What topics can I write about? Most of our weekends were spent taking pictures, from micro nature photography on our camping trips to event photography for every community event. Even back then, I was constantly asking questions about why one picture looks better than another. The training of those early years helped me develop my sense of aesthetic placements, framing, and positioning.
To this day, I am obsessed with learning about the technical side of photography. I have a natural analytical bent of mind that exists along-side my artistic vision; and so, I gravitate towards understanding exactly how aperture, depth of field, shutter speed, exposure, composition, and white balance can be used as a tool of artistic control in photography.
I also love experimenting with different styles of photography. Though art photography is my passion, I spent a couple of years as the staff photographer for my high school newspaper. This foray into the journalistic arena helped to broaden my horizons and consider the social impact of photography. These books led me to think deeply about the artistic merit and social impact of photography and inspired me to sign up as a volunteer photographer at the local community center.
I remember when an older lady, a little self-conscious about her appearance, asked me to take a photo of her in her evening dress at a fund-raising event. When I showed her the photo I took, her expression transformed from anxiety and discomfort to pride and confidence, just like my mother on that fateful Tuesday night. School: Cornell College of Arts and Sciences. Tell us about the areas of study you are excited to explore, and specifically why you wish to pursue them in our College.
Growing up, I was your average troublesome kid. I rarely turned in homework on time, I frequently landed in detention, and I preferred video games to any other activity. This was me until the age of 14 — and that was when it all changed, thanks to Mr. Robert Brown. I was placed in Mr. Brown believed that every student could become interested in English Literature, given the right bait, and for me the bait was science fiction novels.
He identified my nascent inclination towards science-based, fantasy worlds, based on my interest in video games, and handed me some choice works by Isaac Asimov, Ursula Le Guin, and Frank Herbert. In a matter of days, I was hooked. Looking back, I can appreciate how deeply transformative that period of my life was. Science fiction fulfilled all of my natural inclinations towards an exploration of imagination and wonder within the limits of a rule-bounded world.
At the same time, it awoke in me a deep and abiding interest in larger questions of philosophy, sociology, technology, and ethics. I had a new-found love for not only English Literature, but also Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Math and my overall grades improved tremendously. I often took up projects for extra credit just so I could explore a particular new topic I was obsessed with.
Specifically, I loved to take up parallel projects in different classes since I loved exploring two different sides of the same essential question. This kind of dual-natured exploration of topics is something I want to pursue throughout my life. Over time, my interest in the fictional explorations of socio-scientific questions expanded to the real world.
In particular, I developed an interest in biotechnology innovations such as gene-therapy, drug engineering, and agricultural biotechnology and I even started a YouTube channel to provide commentary on the latest scientific news.
I organized an informational campaign highlighting their lax privacy and data protection terms. Thanks to our efforts, the company revised their terms to ensure greater privacy for the genetic information of all participants.
This experience sparked my interest in medical ethics as a career and I am now actively seeking an education that will allow me to pursue both the scientific and philosophical questions related to technology, society, and ethical limitations. Though I know what I eventually want to major in, it is also particularly important to me to continue building my knowledge base in both humanities and sciences, before declaring my major.
The holistic, balanced curriculum at your school allows me this freedom. At Cornell, I will have the chance to acquire philosophy AND biology mentors, interact with students who have varying subject matter interests, and complete an independent research study in any topic of my choosing. And yet, that love for video games was the first step in my journey towards finding answers to the greatest socio-philosophical and scientific questions of our times.
I hope Cornell College of Arts and Science can be the next step in that journey. School: Princeton University. Prompt: At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future?
As captain of my high school basketball team, I have led my team to many hard-earned victories and a few crushing losses. Yet the most difficult moment of my football career took place off the field. It was the morning after our last game of the season, when Tyler, one of my classmates, approached me to ask for a favor.
Tyler took the time to explain to me how it made him feel to see his identity masqueraded as a costume. It was a revelation to me to learn how traumatized he felt at every game. It was a brief conversation which made me re-think a lot of things I had taken for granted; ultimately, I was enlightened and humbled. As for me, I am now a member of the Hands-On organization myself, and I want to continue to use my voice to create awareness around the issues affecting minorities in our country.
Prompt: Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects or will intersect with these ideals. At this time, I was going through the basic motions of volunteering without truly understanding the impact or significance of what I was doing.
Jennifer was an immigrant from Mexico and attended my computer literacy class at LVA. She was one of the few new immigrants who could speak English fluently, and so she served as the unofficial translator at our LVA center. She told me that for her, it was a privilege to be able to do this for others and the biggest annoyances were the authority figures who displayed impatience, discrimination, and cruelty towards immigrants.
Her words had a lasting impact on me and from that moment, I saw so many instances of inequity, cruelty, and injustice that I had not even registered before. I decided to take on a full-time Spanish tutor and in a couple of years, I was near-fluent in Spanish.
School: Stanford University. Prompt: The Stanford community is deeply curious and driven to learn in and out of the classroom. Reflect on an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning. I have always enjoyed my English Literature classes and Mrs. Our assigned reading was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It was my first Austen novel, and in fact, it was the first classic novel I had read from that historical period.
When Mrs. Sutherland gave us the freedom to write our English Lit finals paper about any topic, I chose to write about the social fabric of the Regency era. This paper sparked my interest in social history as a field of study, and subsequently, I read as many books as I could about the social, cultural, and economic history of England.
Each new topic I read about made me reflect on how social mores and day-to-day social rituals are formed as a result of the major economic, military, and business events of the time. That one semester of English Literature introduced me to a whole new world of learning, questioning, and debating, and eventually helped me define what I wish to study in college. Thank you Mrs. Prompt: Virtually all of Stanford's undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—get to know you better.
The number one thing you should know about me is that I live in a state of organized chaos, both in my mind and outside it. For example, I love learning about new topics and my favorite way to learn is to read as much as I can while drinking copious cups of tea. Prepare to often see large piles of books about my latest hyper-obsession lying around!
In fact, I am also a very traditional student. For me, learning is not just about classes and homework and assignments. I like to bring my learning home with me, and to talk about topics that sparked my interest with my friends. For example, yesterday in AP Biology, we learned about invasive species and their impact on ecology. This got me thinking about how human beings could, in our current form, be considered an invasive species, and I later had an interesting conversation with my friend about whether natural corrections could already be occurring in response.
Along with my piles of books, you can expect me to bring home many ideas, experiences, and speculations to discuss with you, maybe over a cup of tea! Prompt: Tell us about something that is meaningful to you, and why? I am a passionate advocate for universal healthcare and specifically, equitable, and non-discriminatory access to healthcare for people of all communities.
One of my goals in pursuing an education in medicine combined with public health policy is to take tangible actions towards my beliefs. My parents both had minimum wage jobs with no benefits. Without health insurance, without coverage, healthcare was, to us, a luxury. I remember when I was 12, my mother, who at the time had an undiagnosed diabetic condition, went into insulin shock, and almost died.
My mother survived, and so did our family, but the suffering of that time still lives with me. It informs my desire to be the best possible doctor I can be, serving communities that need my help. School: Harvard University. Prompt: The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?
Rather than leading by trying to single oneself out among peers, I believe that real leadership comes through effecting palpable change in the lives of those around you. A real leader is first and foremost a citizen, a peer, and a support for those around them. My sense of leadership has been shaped by my father, whose nearly 25 years in public education have positively impacted hundreds of students. Each year he would come home on the last day of a school year with dozens of cards and gifts, from both current students graduating and former students who stopped by to thank him sometimes years after being his students.
He was a leader—someone who helped others learn to find themselves, rather than direct their actions or words through conventional authority. Since I also hope to become a teacher, this has provided important experience that helped me better understand the kind of communication and time management skills needed to help people overcome their educational obstacles, specifically regarding their writing skills.
Coaching in sports is another mode of leadership that I hope to maintain at Harvard. Powerlifting has had a major place in my extracurricular life during high school and I was thrilled to learn that Harvard boasts a competitive powerlifting club.
This goes back to the metric of encouraging success and wellbeing of others — the powerlifting club presents an opportunity in which I can further develop these skills along with my fellow barbell enthusiasts.
By lifting up oneself and others, we eventually pass a threshold into becoming beacons of knowledge, exemplars of ethical and effective action, and citizen-leaders. This all further galvanizes my desire to teach following my time at Harvard.
I feel incredibly fortunate that my current passions in writing and powerlifting will provide opportunities in which I can further develop my leadership skills in a way that will improve my ability to teach them to others. I will strive to continue being a supportive peer and collaborator which is an important foundation for becoming a true leader and educator. Harvard is in every sense the best possible environment for continuing this evolution and encouraging it in my fellow students as well.
School: University of Pennsylvania. Prompt: How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests, and how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? Realizing how infinitely fascinating biology could be is a memory steeped in the peculiar odor of formaldehyde. My parents have since told me that I was overcome with fascination in that moment, genuinely transfixed by what surrounded me.
My mother laughed and my father calmly tried to explain, in toddler terms, just how much pain this person suffered. This planted a seed that has since matured into a profound appreciation for the complexity of living systems. And, in more somber terms, a sensitivity to how these systems can short-circuit and create a domino effect of dysfunction that results in everything from uric acid crystals in knuckles to conjoined twins. Strange as it may be, my lifelong obsession with medicine and biology comes out of this oddity-packed room, its vaguely astringent air, and impossibly large intestine sitting halfway up the stairs.
Prompt: At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classroom, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community. Growing up in a small town of just people meant that my high school was perpetually underfunded and unable to support any music programs.
Moreover, working with such a renowned orchestra will be my first commitment to musical performance outside of small community ensembles. This would enable a previously underdeveloped part of who I am to bloom in the company of incredibly talented musicians and directors. Shifting from very introverted, isolated artistic practice to genuine collaboration and community would be a massive evolution for me as both a musician and a person. I would look forward to unbottling the energy I've built up playing along to Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane over the last ten years, energizing and encouraging my fellow musicians and adding a unique perspective as someone who's new to—but very grateful for—larger ensemble performance.
School: Yale University. Tell us about your engagement with a topic or idea that excites you. Why are you drawn to it? Art is always a snapshot of a given cultural and artistic moment, but the physicality of this information in pottery has always fascinated me and encouraged me to be both a voracious researcher and experimenter in my own creative practice Pottery is rightly considered an art, but its underpinnings in chemistry are what have attracted me to this practice and kept me engaged with it over the years.
Glazes in particular are endlessly complex, rife with history and a sense of cross-cultural collaboration. In a sense, something as simple as the type of cobalt luster on a Hispano-Moresque plate contains centuries of history, telling stories of resource availability, migration, commerce, and even theology. Yet all of this information must be unlocked through understanding a piece's chemical underpinnings, and specifically the nearly infinite variations in fluxes and ensuing chemical interactions that have shaped—or more accurately, colored—earthenware and stoneware art throughout history.
Much the same way surgeons often engage in very dexterity-dependent arts in their downtime, I look forward to continuing my personal explorations in art-oriented chemistry while further developing my academic proficiencies in the science itself.
Prompt: Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international significance. Discuss an issue that is important to you and how your college experience could help you address it. But just a few years later, I came to understand that I was not only significantly shorter than my friends but was in fact growing at a much slower pace.
As is the case for most families in these areas, mine rarely had enough money to afford what scarce high-nutrient food we did have access to. This experience has shaped a big part of not only my sense of self but of my desire to pursue a career in policy analysis to help prevent other kids from having food insufficiencies. I feel extremely strongly that I have an ethical duty to utilize the privilege afforded to me by an education at Yale to help other kids grow up happier, healthier, and in more self-sufficient communities.
School: Columbia University. Prompt: Columbia students take an active role in improving their community, whether in their residence hall, classes or throughout New York City. Their actions, small or large, work to positively impact the lives of others.
Share one contribution that you have made to your family, school, friend group or another community that surrounds you. It started simply: one day in 8th grade, a friend forgot to pack any money, so the rest of us pitched in to buy her lunch.
Prompt: Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? Columbia has long been my magnetic North in the world of American literature. I was an early reader, and became interested in poetry, first the romantics and transcendentalists, then the beats. Tracing the biographies of figures like Kerouac and Ginsburg more recently, I began to realize that they and many other writers whose work had found its way to me spontaneously came with the common thread of Columbia.
My own poetic practice has therefore been deeply informed by the textures and philosophical milieus which stem from Columbia, and a big part of my desire to matriculate. And on a more concrete level, the resources of both the Burke and Butler libraries would play a central part in my proposed thesis, allowing me to fully enmesh my own academic work with the history that has shaped it.
Prompt: Please tell us what from your current and past experiences either academic or personal attracts you specifically to the areas of study that you noted in the application. My first visit to a planetarium at the age of 10 infected me with a specific obsession: infinity. For months after my first trip to the Hayden planetarium, I pondered infinity, barely understanding the word itself. This matured into a lasting fascination with number and number theory specifically, and by the time I was in high school I was committed to following this path of knowledge without reservation.
The history of number theory formed a prominent part of my elective work as an undergrad, during which I undertook both bibliographic and technical research on Cantor's paradox and "actual infinity" in relation to his lifelong mysticism. My commitment to mathematics has grown and become much more specialized since my early bedazzlement by cosmology, but the experience of seeing mathematics as a way of thinking beyond conventional scales and frameworks has remained a central part of my love for the discipline ever since.
A life spent exploring the outermost reaches of number and logic has been and still is my deepest desire. Max words. Cold water splashed my exposed calves as I helped pull the rubber dingy safely to shore. My family and I had been vacationing on a Greek island when we heard cries coming from the sea. We rushed to help and with the aid of locals, we pulled the boat to shore.
Luckily everyone survived. A few of those on the boat spoke English; they explained that they were refugees and had fled conflict in Syria. Until that point in my life the concept of a refugee was opaque. Since this trip one year ago, I have devoted most of my extracurricular hours to a local NGO that helps to resettle refugees.
We teach each other about our cultures by cooking together, sharing stories, and exploring nature. The more I learn about other cultures, the more I realize that I have much more to learn. What I now know is that is my duty to advocate for those who do not have the power to advocate for themselves and to fight for the rights of those at home and abroad. Prompt: Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. My arms began to shake as the bag filled up.
Soon it became almost too heavy to manage. Finally, the massive Leatherback Sea Turtle had finished laying her eggs and my team and I could move them to a nursery we had prepared. We brought the eggs to safety and when we returned two months later, we were able to watch as hundreds of baby sea turtles hatched and made it out to sea. This experience was particularly formative for me. I learned two important lessons. The first is the importance of environmental stewardship.
Due to trawling, harvesting for consumption, light pollution and other human factors, many sea turtles are now critically endangered. It will be left to my generation to continue the fight to preserve the natural world. I also learned how inequality can contribute to environmental degradation. When I heard this, I had to act. By saving the eggs, we may have unintentionally denyied these families their means of survival.
I therefore, asked my school program if we could brainstorm a solution that would help both the turtles and the locals. We decided to buy their handicrafts at a higher price, to sell back at home. We also established a yearly fundraiser.
To date we have helped transition 10 local families from relying on turtle eggs, to selling handmade items. Through this new partnership with the community, we have also established a cultural exchange, in which a few of our youth spend one month in Costa Rica each year while their youth come to the United States. I hope that this will continue to flourish in the years to come. With privilege comes responsibility: those of us who have grown up in wealthy societies have largely benefitted from an unequal global system.
Common App Essays. Prompt: The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
I had not lived long, but at that moment, I was sure this was the worst day of my life. I was only eleven years old, and I had to listen to a doctor tell my mother that I would have to inject myself every day for the rest of my life. Being diagnosed with Type I diabetes felt almost like a death sentence; my life changed in an instant, and I was terrified of not being able to cope with a chronic disease and afraid that I would never get to be a normal child.
Little did I know that this condition would later on allow me to give back to my community through my volunteering initiatives and would make me want to pursue a career where I could help others. The impact that my disease had on my family was profound.
We all had to learn to adjust to a new reality, and I went from having a normal life, to having to mature in a matter of weeks. I knew that it was up to me to make this work, but I felt lost and did not know how to deal with this immense responsibility of managing a new diet, an insulin shot four times a day, and my emotions. After a few days, the initial shock was replaced by denial, then came anger, and little by little, I later gained acceptance. By exercising determination and courage, I decided that even though my disease was now a part of my life, I would not let it dictate who I was or what I could become.
I was resolute to do great things. Besides the discipline and resilience that I had to muster to live my life as a diabetic, I realized that some things in life are better dealt with by having a support system. With this in mind, I looked for volunteering positions where I could share my experience with others and listen to their own struggles.
After I got involved in different initiatives, I decided to organize a support group in high school for students who were dealing with difficult situations and just needed someone to talk to. Today, we have more than twenty volunteers, and our meeting times have doubled since we started. Additionally, this group has been a platform for other initiatives that I have helped launch such as fundraising campaigns and mental health events. I do this as I keep looking for ways to get involved in my community and create spaces for people to support one another in difficult times.
We all have challenges in life. Being diagnosed with a chronic disease at such a young age was devastating for me and my family. However, form this experience I have learned that being disciplined is the key to living a healthy life and that being compassionate is the first step to helping those who need it. When I see how many people have been benefitted from our group, I look back and remember being a scared eleven-year-old, and I feel proud of what I have become.
What felt like a death sentence at first turned into a way of supporting others in my community proving that the lessons we take from the obstacles we encounter can, in fact, be fundamental to later success. School: Brown University. Tell us about an academic interest or interests that excites you, and how you might use the Open Curriculum to pursue it. Looking through the eyepiece of a microscope, I was amazed to see the individual cells of a sea urchin embryo.
In my high school cell and molecular biology class, we were studying the cell cycle and we had the opportunity to harvest embryos from sea urchins to view under the microscope. I had used a microscope before, but only to look at prepared slides containing preserved tissue samples.
This was my first time viewing a live sample that I had prepared myself. This experience opened my eyes to the wonders of cell biology and how our scientific world has been expanded with the technology of microscopes. I knew that I wanted to continue to incorporate microscopes into my own learning and to learn as much as I could about cells and their inner workings. The excitement I felt when looking through the microscope at a sea urchin embryo is one that I look to bring with me to Brown as my classmates and I embark on expanding our academic horizons and building the foundation needed to be successful in our future scientific careers.
Prompt: Tell us about a place or community you call home. How has it shaped your perspective? When I was a child, I was upset to learn that my parents had decided we would be moving houses.
His hair, grayer this year, falls over his tanned face. His hands rest on his belt, one finger cut off above the joint. I pull on my boots and he climbs onto the tractor. He hauls me onto his lap holding me tightly. The tractor roars, an olive branch lightly grazes my face, the grasshoppers go silent.
At the back of the field, Mario climbs up a ladder and starts trimming the tips of the branches, the polloni. I take them and pile them in heaps. The trees are brimming with olives this year. Chop the tomatoes, put them to simmer with the garlic, add salt and pepper. At noon, I walk back towards the house to find my Nonna in the garden, wearing a flowered apron. Pour in the linguini, stir fresh basil into the tomatoes. We break off stems of basil.
I follow Nonna into the kitchen trying to avoid the gang of mothers, uncles and aunts. I reach for the mozzarella and it melts in my mouth; creamy, smooth, dripping, flavor that overloads my senses. And stop eating all the mozzarella! I take the tablemats and retreat to the step outside. I tear off a small piece of cheese and feed it to her. Serve right out of the pot. The ultimate goal of a college essay is to reveal who you are as a human being. Simple moments, like a spaghetti dinner with friends, can say a lot about a person.
Sarah organizes her essay around the steps of a recipe and shows us two moments from different parts of her life. In doing so, she removes all interpretations and judgments from her writing. She never states a lesson she learned or tells us about her traits. When you tell the reader what to think, they lose the ability to connect with you. Instead, Sarah presents us with details, dialogue, and descriptions that let the reader get to know her.
From stealing bites of mozzarella to dialogue in Italian to the description of her uncle with one finger cut off above the joint, we are given loads of details that set her story apart and make it impossible to forget. There was a girl and her name was Michael. This girl first picked up a camera when she was seven. It was a point-and-shoot camera, but it was hers. The upgraded camera she got for her 15th birthday was hers also. And so was my book. One summer she was in Florida.
Her hair was dripping from the pool water, her skin shimmered in the blazing sunlight, and her eyes squinted at her stack of books. She picked the smallest of the bunch; she picked mine. Back home she was entering another photo contest.
This one had a theme of beauty. She booked the studio for two hours and brought in her friend. Her friend had high cheekbones, emerald eyes, curly red hair, and lips that sat outward. She was short but had the body of a dancer. When she moved everyone watched, mouths slightly ajar. Her muscles flexed and released with ease. Michael placed the girl in a wooden chair, turned her face upward toward the enormous lights and took a photo of every angle she could possibly get.
She switched from black and white to high resolution, back to black and white. When the photos developed she never picked the winning shot for herself. Michael went home that night and gazed at the photo. Her brow wrinkled and eyes narrowed. She put the photo in her drawer and went to sleep. The next day Michael set out with her most basic camera, the one that is always on her person. This woman had dirty skin and dirty clothes. Her eyes were trained in that direction and never moved.
Michael took out her camera and took a quick picture, just one. She went to develop it that same day and put it in a folder to take home. On her bed, crosslegged, she sat looking at the red-haired girl. There was no dirt, just an eye looking away.
Easy choice, huh? She placed her finger over the shadow and tapped the photo four times. She smiled. She folded the color image in half and put it in her drawer; she placed the photo of the woman in a protective folder and placed it in her bag. As she laid down that night she smirked into the glow of the TV. Great college essays draw you in from the beginning, take you on a clear journey, and make you want more at the end.
At Story2, we call this structure Magnet, Pivot, and Glow. It keeps readers engaged by ensuring a strong sense of purpose and direction throughout the essay:. As Wenda often reminds me, travelling allows us to discover who we really are by giving us the opportunity to blend in and inspire ourselves from imitating the best in other people. Here and there I collect tools that I find useful—rope, candles, an under-water compass, along with open-mindedness, humility, responsibility, drive, and curiosity—and add them to the arsenal I carry along the road in my backpack and in myself.
People were lying or sleeping on every chair and bench, so we settled on the floor, in the middle of the room. We ordered a few extra burgers, and after a few bites, one by one the beggars woke up and asked us to share. We insisted they join our circle. At first they resisted.
As we exposed our broken Chinese, they opened up and challenged us at a game like Yatzee, that required throwing 5 dice around and scoring high multiples. Next some young Western and Chinese kids joined in. The better generation at languages and breaking social barriers, the kids took the game to new dimensions.
We ended up spending the night in our sleeping bags on the floor under the disdainful stare of the confused McDonald employees. In the end our American burgers gave us an authentic taste of China. When an environment becomes too familiar, we change pages. Whether it was wearing the same letters as my American brothers in California, acting the part of a professional fund manager when interviewing the executive board of major corporations, or tutoring Chinese children in English, the Waldo within me adapts, challenges himself and discovers something new about the people around him.
Who knows where life will take me next? I have heard of a particular platform of intellectual and cultural exchange that gathers the most interesting minds from all around the world. The institution is praised for its ability to convey experience and wisdom through round tables of interaction and Socratic rhetoric. The two biggest mistakes students make writing college essays are staying too general and writing about thoughts rather than actions.
Romain avoids this by becoming Waldo. This narrative technique allows him to tell the story through his unique perspective and in his authentic voice. Romain uses a specific moment to show readers who he is. We see Romain as a compassionate and curious person who brings people together, explores new ideas, and welcomes the opportunity to teach and learn.
He uses his fourth paragraph to give the audience the scope of his experiences and the fifth paragraph to make a specific connection to the University of Chicago. However, the heart of his essay is the third paragraph, which takes the reader into a moment and gives powerful details that reveal his character.
Now you should be feeling ready to tackle your own personal statements! The above personal statement examples are powerful and yours can be, too! Grammar is certainly important, but it is more important to write with the power of storytelling—using description, detail, and dialogue instead of interpretations, generalizations, and cliches. Focus on specific moments when you learned a key lesson, changed in a fundamental way, or made a difference in the lives of others to reveal your character strengths through your actions.
Tell your story out loud to capture your authentic voice—the unique idiosyncrasies that make you you! Beware of over-editing your essays from sounding like an individual to something generic. After grades and test scores your essays are going to be the most important part of your college application.
I began to analyze the events and actions that led to the upheaval of the Arab Springs. In my country, religious and political tensions were brought to light as Shias, who felt underrepresented and neglected within the government, challenged the Sunnis, who were thought to be favored for positions of power.
I wanted equality and social justice; I did not want the violence to escalate any further and for my country to descend into the nightmare that is Libya and Syria. September — Pursuing understanding helped allay my fears, but I also wanted to contribute to Bahrain in a positive way. I participated in student government as a student representative and later as President, became a member of Model United Nations MUN , and was elected President of the Heritage Club, a charity-focused club supporting refugees and the poor.
As an MUN delegate, I saw global problems from perspectives other than my own and used my insight to push for compromise. I debated human rights violations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from an Israeli perspective, argued whether Syrian refugees should be allowed entry into neighboring European countries, and then created resolutions for each problem. In the Heritage Club, I raised funds and ran food drives so that my team could provide support for less fortunate Bahrainis.
We regularly distributed boxed lunches to migrant workers, bags of rice to refugees and air conditioners to the poor. Both Shia and Sunni candidates are selected, helping to diversify the future leadership of my country. I was shortlisted to attend the training during that summer. But as I learned to apply different types of leadership styles to real-life situations and honed my communication skills to lead my team, I began to see what my country was missing: harmony based on trust.
Bringing people together from different backgrounds and successfully completing goals—any goal—builds trust. And trust is the first step to lasting peace. October — I have only begun to understand my people and my history, but I no longer live in fear. Instead, I have found purpose. I plan to study political science and economics to find answers for the issues that remain unresolved in my country. Bahrain can be known for something more than pearl diving, palm trees, and the Arab Spring; it can be known for the understanding of its people, including me.
Orients the reader in time. This author talks about an intensely political topic, which changed drastically over the course of a specific timeframe. Because of that, the use of timestamps elevates the piece and makes it easier for readers to follow the chronology of the story. If your essay topic is something that has changed significantly over time or has developed in a chronological way, this might be a great blueprint for you. Check out our Feelings and Needs Exercise to brainstorm for this kind of essay where you learn something along a narrative arc from Point A to Point B.
Gives us the right amount of context. However, remember that this is ultimately a personal statement, not a political statement. You want to make sure you talk about yourself in the essay. When possible, think about how big issues manifest in your day to day life as well as what you specifically are doing to take action. I have been pooped on many times. I mean this in the most literal sense possible. I have been pooped on by pigeons and possums, house finches and hawks, egrets and eastern grays.
Actually, that I do mind a little. Their chances of going back to the wild, going back to their homes, rely on my attention to their needs and behaviors. My enduring interest in animals and habitat loss led me to intern at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley over the summer, and it was there that I was lucky enough to meet those opossum joeys that defecated on my shoes whenever I picked them up forcing me to designate my favorite pair of shoes as animal hospital shoes, never to be worn elsewhere again.
It was there that a juvenile squirrel decided my finger looked fit to suckle, and that many an angry pigeon tried to peck off my hands. And yet, when the internship ended, I found myself hesitant to leave. It was from the sense of responsibility that I developed while working with orphaned and injured wildlife. After all, most of the animals are there because of us—the baby opossums and squirrels are there because we hit their mothers with our cars, raptors and coyotes end up there due to secondary rodenticide poisoning and illegal traps.
We are responsible for the damage, so I believe we are responsible for doing what we can to help. And of course, there is empathy—empathy for the animals who lost their mothers, their homes, their sight and smell, their ability to fly or swim. These are not jobs that can be avoided or left half-finished.
For some, the Arctic is simply too far away, and the oceans will always teem with life, while for others these problems seem too great to ever conquer. And while I have had these same feelings many times over, I organized letter-writing campaigns, protested, and petitioned the oil companies to withdraw. I campaigned in local parks to educate people on sustaining the seas. I hold on to the hope that persistent efforts will prevent further damage.
I sometimes wonder if my preoccupation with social and environmental causes just makes me feel less guilty. The upshot is that I simply cannot walk away from injustice, however uncomfortable it is to confront it. I choose to act, taking a stand and exposing the truth in the most effective manner that I think is possible. Another great hook. Much like the football essay, this one starts off with a bang. After hearing about all the pecking, hissing, pooping, and clawing that the author endured, chances are you want to read more.
And notice how the initial pooping hook comes back in the last line of the essay. The scope gets wider as the piece progresses. The author starts with specific details about an internship opportunity then gradually works her way to broader topics about social justice and environmental activism. Every part of the piece emphasizes her values, but they are more explicitly stated towards the end. This trajectory is nice because it allows the reader to ease themselves into the world of the author and then see how specific opportunities or interests connect to broader goals or ambitions.
This author does a great job of using humor as a tool to endear her to readers, but not as a crutch to lean on when she has nothing else to say. Not only is she cracking jokes about poop, but also deeply interrogating her own motivations for being interested in social and environmental activism.
Kardashian updates? Nope: A Word A Day. Out of the collection of diverse words I received, one word stuck out to me in particular. Entoptic : relating to images that originate within the eye as opposed to from light entering the eye. Examples of entoptic phenomena: floaters, thread-like fragments that appear to float in front of the eye but are caused by matter within the eye.
Flustered, I was attempting to evolve my abilities to learn to see the invisible. Between rubbing my eyes and squinting, I began to make out subtle specks in the air that drifted from place to place. I launched a thunderbolt straight through the air and declared a super-effective knockout. Of course, I never was able to explain what I was seeing to my bewildered friends that day in first grade. But after learning about entoptic phenomena, I realized that my entoptic adventure was not a hallucination but, in fact, one of my first intellectual milestones, when I was first able to connect meticulous observation of my environment to my imagination.
Two of their names are Larry and Kailan, and they are the top-ranked players in the Exynos League. Exynos is the name of the elaborate basketball league I have created in my imagination over the last ten years of playing basketball on the neighborhood court in the evenings.
As I play, I envision Larry and Kailan right there with me: reaching, stealing, and blocking. Undoubtedly, I might look a little silly when I throw the ball backwards as if Larry blocked my layup attempt—but imagining competitors defending me drives me to be precise in my execution of different moves and maneuvers. But I perceive perhaps the most vivid images through music, as I tell a different story with each piece I play on the violin.
Denizens of this world are rumored to watch Netflix re-runs without WiFi and catch many a Pikachu via psychokinesis. It makes tons of uncommon connections. Yet the author uses the idea of imagination and its relation to vision to weave these disparate topics into a coherent narrative. In fact, his ability to do so emphasizes his ability to think creatively in ways that the average person may not. To find these, consider brainstorming everything you want colleges to know about you and then think of interesting ways in which these might intersect.
You absolutely can if you want to, but feel free to let your imagination run wild. If something excites or intrigues you, try writing a draft about it and see where it takes you. It would absolutely stand out from the other essays in the bunch. Sure, other people play basketball. But, the particular way in which the author articulates his interests and connects them makes it memorable.
Current inventory: thirty-two note pads, ten packs of Pilot G-2 pens, and pure willpower. I come from a long line of list-makers. It shows up on both sides of my family, so by the time this trait reached my generation, it hit a peak. My chronic list-making tendencies began in fourth grade when I begged for a white board and a set of Expo markers for Christmas. I started creating daily color-coordinated to-do lists replete with little checkmark boxes, and fun facts for my family to enjoy—perhaps to compensate for the fact that my large white board reigned over the kitchen space.
A list is the keeper of spontaneous expression. With every contraction of my brain, every output of overflowing postulations, every idea my imagination rapidly hurls at me, those thoughts that had been unconscious suddenly surface at the touch of pen to paper.
A thought, which is in so many ways intangible, is absolutely tangible on paper. And I like that thought—that our words can have resonance. Words and how they shape our reality have been a driving force in my life…. As a writer, I am constantly constructing reality. Writing on a page has a physicality: each word by itself could seem mundane and even unimaginative, but the way I choose to arrange them on the page makes them meaningful.
Someone reads them, and now my words exist in the world as their own object. As a debater, I edit on paper, I write on paper, I read on paper. As an artist, I spin my words into portraits of people, landscapes of nature, even cartoons of fantastical polka dotted critters. Words build bridges. They serve to connect the me I am—a tad disorganized, spontaneous, a little confused, and very overwhelmed—with the me I aspire to be. I can rely on them. Although the course of my life is most likely going to be transient, jumbled, and complex, covered in a tangle of corrections, with contradicting figures sprawled all over, lists will always keep me grounded.
There is something wonderful about a physical pen with graceful ink in my control that a handwritten list can solely provide, and that I will not grow out of. Lists go hand in hand with refreshing walks and a cup of hot chocolate in the morning: they are always there for me, to be read or put away or kept tucked away in a drawer or pocket—within reach.
In that moment between thinking a thing and writing it down, a shift takes place. It includes some great one-liners. No paragraph is too dense or excessively wordy. Long sentences are balanced out by short, quippy insights. This give and take of short and long keeps the piece flowing smoothly.
It harnesses the power of a great throughline. This piece is what we would call a montage essay. Have a look at our blog post on Montage Structure for all the details on this. In this case, the idea of making lists is what connects everything. This essay is a great example of how you can structure your piece.
It emphasizes not only what the author thinks about but also how she thinks. Sometimes students think that writing a personal statement is about cramming as much information as possible about themselves into the word count. Although this author briefly mentions her interest in writing and debate, the majority of the essay is mostly just her nerding out about lists and the power of a good doodle. While that might not seem like a topic with enough substance, the way she writes about it reveals so much about personal values.
Let this be an example of how expansive the idea of a personal statement can be and how much creative liberty you can take in choosing your topic. Since childhood, I have been an obsessive builder and problem solver. When I was 6, I spent two months digging a hole in my backyard, ruining the grass lawn, determined to make a giant koi pond after watching a show on HGTV.
After watching Castaway when I was 7, I started a fire in my backyard--to my mother's horror--using bark and kindling like Tom Hanks did. I neglected chores and spent nights locked in my room drawing pictures and diagrams or learning rubik's cube algorithms while my mother yelled at me through the door to go to sleep.
I've always been compulsive about the things I set my mind to. The satisfaction of solving problems and executing my visions is all-consuming. But my obsessive personality has helped me solve other problems, too. When I was 8, I taught myself how to pick locks. So I didn't eat at school for two weeks and saved up enough lunch money to buy a lockpicking set from Home Depot. After I wiggled the tension wrench into the keyhole and twisted it counterclockwise, I began manipulating the tumblers in the keyhole with the pick until I heard the satisfying click of the lock and entered the room.
Devouring his stash of Lemonheads was awesome, but not as gratifying as finally getting inside his room. As the projects I tackled got bigger, I had to be more resourceful. One day in history class after reading about early American inventions, I decided to learn how to use a Spinning Jenny. For weeks, I brushed my two cats everyday until I had gathered enough fur.
I washed and soaked it, carded it with paddle brushes to align the fibers, and then spun it into yarn, which I then used to crochet a clutch purse for my grandmother on mother's day. She still uses it to this day. In high school, my obsessive nature found a new outlet in art. Being a perfectionist, I often tore up my work in frustration at the slightest hint of imperfection. As a result, I was slowly falling behind in my art class, so I had to seek out alternate solutions to actualize the ideas I had in my head.
Oftentimes that meant using mixed media or experimenting with unconventional materials like newspaper or cardboard. Eventually I went on to win several awards, showcased my art in numerous galleries and magazines, and became President of National Art Honors Society. After high school I began to work on more difficult projects and I channeled my creativity into a different form of art - programming. I'm writing a program in Matlab that can measure visual acuity and determine what prescription glasses someone would need.
I ultimately plan to turn this into a smartphone app to be released to the general public. The fact is that computer coding is in many ways similar to the talents and hobbies I enjoyed as a child—they all require finding creative ways to solve problems. While my motivation to solve these problems might have been a childlike sense of satisfaction in creating new things, I have developed a new and profound sense of purpose and desire to put my problem solving skills to better our world.
It turns a perceived weakness into a critical strength. At the beginning of the essay, the author talks about all of the problems she caused because of her obsession ironically with problem-solving. However, as the piece progresses, we begin to see how her childlike curiosity and interest in making things became a clear asset. It becomes a way of emphasizing values like resourcefulness, empathy, and dedication.
This example is no exception. The author here spends some time at the end talking about her plans for a prescription-measuring smartphone app and her general interest in learning more about computer coding. While the piece has a clear conclusion, these examples highlight the ongoing nature of her educational journey and her openness to further learning. It was the first Sunday of April.
My siblings and I were sitting at the dinner table giggling and spelling out words in our alphabet soup. The phone rang and my mother answered. It was my father; he was calling from prison in Oregon. Fortunately, my father was bailed out of prison by a family friend in Yakima.
Unfortunately, though, most of our life savings was spent on his bail. My father went from being a costurero sewing worker to being a water-filter salesman, mosaic tile maker, lemon deliverer, and butcher. Money became an issue at home, so I started helping out more.
Sundays and summertime were spent cleaning houses with my mother. I worked twice as hard in school. I helped clean my church, joined the choir, and tutored my younger sister in math. Slowly, life improved. Then I received some life-changing news. The lawyer had an idea: I had outstanding grades and recommendation letters. If we could show the judge the importance of my family remaining here to support my education, perhaps we had a chance. So I testified.
Testifying in court helped me grow as a person, has made me more open-minded and aware of the problems facing my community. And my involvement in the urban farm has led me to consider a career as a nutritionist.
Though neither of my parents attended college, they understand that college is a key factor to a bright future and therefore have been very supportive. And though we don't yet have the house with the small porch and the dog, we're still holding out hope. Drops us in a moment in time. This is a great tactic when done well because it helps us identify with the author and piques our curiosity. Shows the agency, independence, and resilience of the applicant. The author here goes through a lot over the course of the essay.
They have to face very real fears about incarceration, deportation, and financial instability on a daily basis. Talking about the ways in which they approached these obstacles highlights their ability to think clearly under pressure and make the most of what they have. If you have faced significant hardships , worked through them, learned valuable lessons, and want to share these with colleges, the personal statement can be a good place to do that.
If you want to write about struggles that are particularly related to COVID, check out our guide for specific suggestions. Era el primer domingo de abril. Era mi padre. Mis padres se negaron a dejarme tener un trabajo "real. En domingos y en el verano limpiaba casas con mi madre. Poco a poco, la vida mejoraba. Aunque ninguno de mis padres asistieron a la universidad, ellos entienden que la universidad es un factor clave para un futuro brillante, y por lo tanto, han sido un gran apoyo.
At six years old, I stood locked away in the restroom. Regardless, I knew what was happening: my dad was being put under arrest for domestic abuse. Living without a father meant money was tight, mom worked two jobs, and my brother and I took care of each other when she worked. For a brief period of time the quality of our lives slowly started to improve as our soon-to-be step-dad became an integral part of our family.
He paid attention to the needs of my mom, my brother, and me. I cooked, Jose cleaned, I dressed Fernando, Jose put him to bed. We did what we had to do. As undocumented immigrants and with little to no family around us, we had to rely on each other. Fearing that any disclosure of our status would risk deportation, we kept to ourselves when dealing with any financial and medical issues.
I avoided going on certain school trips, and at times I was discouraged to even meet new people. I felt isolated and at times disillusioned; my grades started to slip. Over time, however, I grew determined to improve the quality of life for my family and myself.
Without a father figure to teach me the things a father could, I became my own teacher. I learned how to fix a bike, how to swim, and even how to talk to girls. I became resourceful, fixing shoes with strips of duct tape, and I even found a job to help pay bills.
I became as independent as I could to lessen the time and money mom had to spend raising me. I also worked to apply myself constructively in other ways. These changes inspired me to help others. I became president of the California Scholarship Federation, providing students with information to prepare them for college, while creating opportunities for my peers to play a bigger part in our community. I began tutoring kids, teens, and adults on a variety of subjects ranging from basic English to home improvement and even Calculus.
And I have yet to see the person that Fernando will become. Not because I have to. Because I choose to. Again, the author shows growth. We see concrete signs of growth in the way he improved his grades and got more involved in school clubs like the California Scholarship Federation as well as athletic extracurriculars like swimming. Essentially, he shows how he made the best of his situation.
You have your transcript and test scores to prove your academic skills, so the point of the personal statement is to give you free rein to showcase your personality. This will result in a more engaging essay and reading experience for admissions officers. Your writing should also feel natural. This balance can be difficult to strike, but a tone that would feel natural when talking with an admired teacher or a longtime mentor is usually a good fit.
One of the biggest mistakes students make is to simply state everything that happened, instead of actually bringing the reader to the moment it happened, and telling a story. The adrenaline drowned out my burning legs and gasping lungs. I was going to finish my first half marathon! This was almost incomprehensible to me, as someone who could barely run a mile just a year ago. What did you feel, emotionally and physically? Why was this moment meaningful? What did you see or hear?
What were your thoughts? You could also listen to podcasts of personal stories, like The Moth. What do these writers and storytellers do that make their stories engaging? Analyzing real stories can help you identify techniques that you personally resonate with. A great way to keep your writing engaging is to include some dialogue.
My face burned long after I left the fire pit. The camp stank of salmon and shame. Having dialogue can break up longer paragraphs of text, and bring some action and immediacy to your story. Want free essay feedback? Only include relevant details that enrich the story, instead of making your personal statement a report of the events.
Similarly, another common mistake is to make your personal statement a resume or recap of all your high school accomplishments. The Activities Section of the Common App is the place for listing out your achievements, not your personal statement. Focus on one specific experience or a few related experiences, and go into detail on those. Try to avoid overdone quotes from famous people like Gandhi or Thoreau.
If it was actually the best day of your life, show us why, rather than just telling us. If you want to learn more about personal statements, see our post of 11 Common App Essay Examples. Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances?
Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. What is the Personal Statement? What is the Purpose of the Personal Statement? Tips for Writing a Personal Statement for College 1. The first paragraph the most important should interest the addressee and motivate him or her to finish reading the letter. You can start with the use of a quote or an interesting expression. This part of the letter should be related to the sphere in which you are applying for.
In the first paragraph, do not forget to indicate the main purpose of your personal statement essay. Ideally, find words that could show that you are that right applicant who demonstrates a need to be enrolled in the university. Information should be clear, concise and on topic, write briefly about your age, education, skills. If you were enrolled in a university or college, indicate the name of the institution, specialty, the degree which you intend to receive.
Justify why you chose this specialty and how you applied for it. If you took part in internships, master classes, competitions, make sure to tell about it and show yourself as a versatile, motivated, ambitious student. What will my achievements and goals give me in the future? The last paragraph should clearly describe the benefits that you will get from achieving the desired goal.
The ending should contain strong phrases and expressions because they leave an impression of what has been read. Personal statement for college should be unique; it has to be compiled individually for each institution. Universal letters are immediately discarded in the trash. Therefore, an Admissions Committee should see that a particular letter was drawn up specifically for them, this will assure them that you are a serious student, who is striving to enroll in that particular college.
Low-quality or copied work is immediately evident. Research personal statement tips before starting. If the professor discovers plagiarism, the consequences can be devastating, at best, such a letter will simply be ignored but at worst, they can refuse further consideration. The letter should be individual, describing only your achievements, successes and goals. If you do not know how to write a personal statement, you should ask for professional help to be confident that your letter will guarantee admission to the college that you chose.
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