I thought my essays would need just a small amount of changing. If you felt something in my essays could be better, you let me know. You were nice in your critiquing of my work but were not afraid to tell me when something needed to be changed, and you were always quick to reply. I felt as though we became friends via email, and it was wonderful meeting you in person. When I told you of my acceptance, you were genuinely so happy for me. I could not have gotten where I am now without your help.
I would highly recommend your expertise to anyone looking for an application review and a friend. Margery Kashman, aka The College Essay Whiz, was the obvious and easy choice to help me with the daunting task of filling out college applications and writing college essays. My older brother had worked with Margery to help him in this process, and he developed a great relationship with Margery. She came to understand his personality and therefore his goals rather quickly, and the end result was a flawless college application and beautifully written essays.
My brother and my parents were so impressed with Margery that they encouraged me to use her as an ACT tutor and a college advisor. I am glad that I heeded their advice. The end result was everything I could have wished for. With her guidance, I improved my ACT scores. In addition, I, too, submitted flawless college applications and interesting and articulate essays. I could not have reached my goals without her! Thank you, Margery! College was a dream to me, but one I was determined to make a reality.
I met Margery in August of This is when we began to work together on my college applications and my application for the Bill Gates scholarship.
Margery and I started by filling out the information part of the application. Next we started the essays: First, the Common App personal statement and second, the Additional Information question. Margery helped me edit and cut down an essay that was originally over 1, words into a perfect word essay.
Yes, Margery is so good at cutting and editing essays that she trimmed it all the way down to just one word under the limit without omitting one idea that was in the original essay. After perfecting the Common App essays, we started to work on the writing supplements. Yet explaining what the event or idea you discuss meant to you is the most important essay —knowing how you want to tie your experiences back to your personal growth from the beginning will help you make sure to include it. It's not enough to just know what you want to write about—you also need to have a sense of how you're going to write about it.
You could have the most exciting topic of all time, but without a clear structure your essay will end up as incomprehensible gibberish that doesn't tell the reader anything meaningful about your personality. There are a lot of different possible essay structures, but a simple and effective one is the compressed narrative, which builds on a specific anecdote like the Half Dome example above :. Start in the middle of the action. Don't spend a lot of time at the beginning of your essay outlining background info—it doesn't tend to draw the reader in and you usually need less of it than you think you do.
Instead start right where your story starts to get interesting. I'll go into how to craft an intriguing opener in more depth below. Briefly explain what the situation is. Now that you've got the reader's attention, go back and explain anything they need to know about how you got into this situation. Don't feel compelled to fit everything in—only include the background details that are necessary to either understand what happened or illuminate your feelings about the situation in some way.
Finish the story.
Once you've clarified exactly what's going on, explain how you resolved the conflict or concluded the experience. Explain what you learned. The last step is to tie everything together and bring home the main point of your story: how this experience affected you. The key to this type of structure is to create narrative tension—you want your reader to be wondering what happens next. A second approach is the thematic structure, which is based on returning to a key idea or object again and again like the boots example above :.
Establish the focus. If you're going to structure your essay around a single theme or object, you need to begin the essay by introducing that key thing. You can do so with a relevant anecdote or a detailed description. Touch on times the focus was important. The body of your essay will consist of stringing together a few important moments related to the topic. Make sure to use sensory details to bring the reader into those points in time and keep her engaged in the essay.
Also remember to elucidate why these moments were important to you. Revisit the main idea. At the end, you want to tie everything together by revisiting the main idea or object and showing how your relationship to it has shaped or affected you. Ideally, you'll also hint at how this thing will be important to you going forward.
To make this structure work you need a very specific focus.
Your love of travel, for example, is much too broad—you would need to hone in on a specific aspect of that interest, like how traveling has taught you to adapt to event the most unusual situations. Whatever you do, don't use this structure to create a glorified resume or brag sheet. However you structure your essay, you want to make sure that it clearly lays out both the events or ideas you're describing and establishes the stakes i.
Many students become so focused on telling a story or recounting details that they forget to explain what it all meant to them. Your essay has to be built step-by-step, just like this building.
For her essay, Eva decides to use the compressed narrative structure to tell the story of how she tried and failed to report on the closing of a historic movie theater:. The key to writing your first draft is not to worry about whether it's any good—just get something on paper and go from there.
Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. If you are "undecided" or not sure which Brown concentrations match your interests, consider describing more generally the academic topics or modes of thought that engage you currently. But if sitting down to write your essay feels like a chore, and you're bored by what you're saying, you can imagine how the person reading your essay will feel. Admission to the Ivy League and other top universities is about talented students sharing their unique stories and weaving compelling and truthful narratives through their college applications. Family is really important to her. How do you challenge yourself as part of a team?
You will have to rewrite, so trying to get everything perfect is both frustrating and futile. Everyone has their own writing process. Maybe you feel more comfortable sitting down and writing the whole draft from beginning to end in one go. Maybe you jump around, writing a little bit here and a little there. It's okay to have sections you know won't work or to skip over things you think you'll need to include later. I mentioned this idea above, but I can't emphasize it enough: no one writes a perfect first draft. Extensive editing and rewriting is vital to crafting an effective personal statement.
Don't get too attached to any part of your draft, because you may need to change anything or everything about your essay later. Also keep in mind that, at this point in the process, the goal is just to get your ideas down. Wonky phrasings and misplaced commas can easily be fixed when you edit, so don't worry about them as you write. Instead, focus on including lots of specific details and emphasizing how your topic has affected you, since these aspects are vital to a compelling essay.
One part of the essay you do want to pay special attention to is the introduction.
Your intro is your essay's first impression: you only get one. It's much harder to regain your reader's attention once you've lost it, so you want to draw the reader in with an immediately engaging hook that sets up a compelling story. You'll probably recognize this term if you studied The Odyssey: it basically means that the story starts in the middle of the action, rather than at the beginning. A good intro of this type makes the reader wonder both how you got to the point you're starting at and where you'll go from there.
These openers provide a solid, intriguing beginning for narrative essays though they can certainly for thematic structures as well. But how do you craft one? Try to determine the most interesting point in your story and start there. If you're not sure where that is, try writing out the entire story and then crossing out each sentence in order until you get to one that immediately grabs your attention.
Anonymous , University of Virginia. This intro throws the reader right into the middle of the action.
The author jumps right into the action: the performance. You can imagine how much less exciting it would be if the essay opened with an explanation of what the event was and why the author was performing. Sounds like an oxymoron, right? This type of intro sets up what the essay is going to talk about in a slightly unexpected way. These are a bit trickier than the "in media res" variety, but they can work really well for the right essay—generally one with a thematic structure.
The key to this type of intro is detail. Contrary to what you may have learned in elementary school, sweeping statements don't make very strong hooks. If you want to start your essay with a more overall description of what you'll be discussing, you still need to make it specific and unique enough to stand out. Neha , Johns Hopkins University. Both of these intros set up the general topic of the essay the first writer's bookshelf and and the second's love of Jane Eyre in an intriguing way.
The first intro works because it mixes specific descriptions "pushed against the left wall in my room" with more general commentary "a curious piece of furniture". The second draws the reader in by adopting a conversational and irreverent tone with asides like "if you ask me" and "This may or may not be a coincidence.