Admitted Personal Statement for the Common App: Essay Review
When Writing A Personal Statement For The Common App, Finding Your Voice Can Be Tricky.
The Common App’s personal statement is a student’s chance to let college admission officers into their personal world and be specific about their past experiences, current perspective, and future goals. Admission officers want applicants to take creative freedoms while delivering a quality piece of writing; after all, they want to get to know their future students!
So, in this Common App essay review, we’re taking a look at a prompt that allows a lot of room for creativity. Of course, with creative freedom comes the challenge of finding a balance between using an academic tone without sounding dull or uninspired.
An Admitted Essay For The Common App
Explain a unique experience that has defined your life and your goals for the future.
It was eight in the morning, and three old Cuban women were already staring at me.
As I tried to exit the café’s patio, I made my way through tables filled with chattering families and the savory smell of cheese tequeños. Before I could hop back into my car, one of the Cuban ladies stopped me in my tracks. She stared at me and decided to observe me in my entirety as a half-finished cigarette dangled from the side of her mouth. “Wow, you’re so tall! How’s the weather up there? Do you play basketball?” the woman exclaimed in Spanish. If I had a dollar for every time someone’s asked me those questions, I’d have enough to buy the entire café. I’m used to this barrage of questions, and it doesn’t bother me anymore. However, if I’m
being absolutely honest, this hasn’t always been the case. For a long time, I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. It’s definitely odd to grow up tall; all of your clothes change sizes by the year and your head continuously dangles above everyone else’s. The notable difference is jarring and it used to make me feel out of place, but I’ve learned to love it. After all, it’s a great conversation starter (“Are you really 6 foot 8?”) and it’s led to many valuable relationships. Being a head above the crowd has definitely led me to friends and classmates that have been indispensable to me.
I was able to find comfort as an up-and-coming giant stomping around my high school’s halls, but it took me much longer to reconcile my height with another aspect of my identity: my Latinx background.
I’m probably the tallest person I know. I go to school with students that share my heritage and my background, but among them, I stand out like a sort of freak of nature. Most people find it very amusing, but for quite some time I found myself unable to find comfort as a Latino teenager who just so happened to be absurdly tall. I felt excluded. The old Cuban ladies were often nice to me, but on some occasions, they collectively make the choice to throw a few curveballs at me. I face an odd sort of interrogation at their hands every day, and sometimes they try to spice things up.
“Are you actually Latino?” they’d say. “Where are your parents from, Europe?” It wasn’t fun to have to deal with people like these. This search for belonging really drove my intellectual and personal development for quite some time.
It worked out for me, though. I’ve found comfort in who I am and what I do, and I try to use my talents and interests to my advantage.
As I approach the beginning of the end of my high school career, I am asked some different questions from the sage old ladies. They sit at their tables as the earthy and mouth-watering smell of Cuban coffee fills the room, and they ask their questions.
“What do you want to study? What do you want to do when you’re older?” the ladies would ask.
They’re valid questions, after all. How will I be able to use my interests to create a notable impact? Questions like that used to nauseate me, but I’m firm in my goals now. I want to use my voice to advocate for minority communities, drawing on my personal experiences and the way they’ve shaped me. I genuinely believe that if I work hard and persist, I can make a change on a college campus—and maybe even the world itself.
My friends will often playfully call me “future president” or something of the sort, but who knows?
Maybe I could become the tallest president in US history. (Take that, Abraham Lincoln.) After all, I have my unique experiences to carry me along. Anything could happen.
Our Expert Review
Overall, this student did an excellent job of using a narrative structure to tell a detailed story. He clearly has strong storytelling skills and was able to blend his past experiences, current thoughts, and future goals together to create a cohesive personal statement.
Specifically, including what his friends say about him and how his Latino culture and background has influenced him was a nice touch. Using his frequent interactions with the little old ladies as a through-line was also very creative, giving the essay an almost whimsical, humorous tone.
However, this is a personal essay for the Common App, and certain weaknesses in language, grammar, and sentence structure are definitely present. Using a narrative structure is a strong choice, but it needs to be combined with a more academic tone as well. Because the writer focused so heavily on storytelling, the piece comes across as more of a short story, and less like a college level essay. This essay is also a little lengthy, which usually means the writer didn’t revise his essay enough. Letting other teachers, counselors, or peers read and revise the essay would have helped him cut down on the essay’s length, while also finding a better balance between informal and formal language.
Overall, the essay was definitely enjoyable to read; but, to truly present a piece of writing that is succinct and to the point, a few more rounds of revision would have made it even stronger!
How To Apply This Advice To Your Own College Essays
BE WARY OF INFORMALITY
It’s great that this student came across as relaxed, but some areas of the essay seemed a bit too informal. Blending a more academic tone with his laid back style of storytelling would have fixed a lot of his grammar and sentence structure errors, while also making it clear that this is a college application essay; not a short story.
Overall, students need to remember the purpose behind writing a Common App essay: you’re seeking admission into an academic institution, and the personal statement is the perfect opportunity to showcase your academic skills in addition to your personal experience.
Fortunately, finding a balance between using your natural voice and creating a suitably academic piece of writing will happen over time. This is why it’s crucial for students to start writing their essays as early as possible, and to enlist the help of others whenever they can. It’s difficult to see the true state of your essay when you don’t take enough time between revisions, so be sure to start the process early so you can submit a final essay you’re proud of!
GET A SECOND OPINION
Like we just mentioned, having a few other people read your essay and provide feedback will go a long way towards helping you create a balanced personal statement. Your teachers, counselors, and peers will all have something unique to bring to the table and are the perfect way to approach your essay from a new perspective.
So, offer some copies of your college essay to people you trust and see what kind of edits they make. It’s possible that they’ll find entire sections that can be revised, along with important details that can be highlighted even more.
ASK YOURSELF SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
Lastly, the absolute best way to write a strong college essay for your Common App personal statement is to bring specific questions to the table every time you make edits.
Before you scan your essay for revisions, imagine that you are an admission counselor who reads thousands of essays. Step into their shoes and ensure that only the most pertinent and impactful information is in your essay. Through this mental exercise, any details or anecdotes that don’t answer the prompt or serve your overall argument will come to light.
Writing A Stellar Common App Essay
Overall, the key to writing your Common App personal statement is to embrace the editing process. Don’t be bound to your first draft, and be open and always be willing to make changes as you gather more feedback and refine your writing.
After all, this college essay could be the final piece of your application that convinces admission officers to admit you to their university, so create something valuable! Make it uniquely yours by being creative, balance your personality with some more academic language, and seek outside feedback from sources you trust.
Of course, if you need help with anything from writing your personal statement to picking colleges to apply to in the first place, WeAdmit’s professional counselors are experts on everything college related., We hope you’ll reach out and let us guide you through the college application process, as well as congratulate you when you get admitted to the college of your dreams!
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