Writing the College Essay College Essay/Personal Statement • Mandatory part of many college and scholarship applications – Common Application (Private Schools) – UW Madison • Chance to explain to admissions why you are a good fit for their campus/award. • Where you become more than just a number. • Share personality, goals, experiences, and obstacles that have affected your academics. Think of it this way…. Personal Statement • Adds clarity, depth and meaning to other parts of your application. • Distinguishes yourself from others. • Enables you to make the best possible case for admission. • Much like interviewing for a job. Message from the UW…. It is acceptable to receive feedback from others, but applicant statements should reflect your own ideas and written by you alone! What do colleges look for? Admissions counselors seek applicants who are: Motivated Enthusiastic Independent Ethical Mature Confident Creative Curious The essay is an opportunity to show you are a unique, well-rounded and confident person who is committed to succeed in life. Structuring Your Personal Statement A typical personal statement will consist of the following: ✓An introductory paragraph that provides your essay's controlling theme. ✓2-4 body paragraphs that develop your theme through examples and detailed experiences and build upon each other. The final body paragraph will contain your most poignant information. ✓A conclusion that widens the lens and wraps up your essay without summarizing or repeating what has already been written. **Be mindful of word/character limitations** “Common Application” Questions • Evaluate a signiﬁcant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. • Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you. • Indicate a person who has had a signiﬁcant inﬂuence on you, and describe that inﬂuence. • Describe a character in ﬁction, a historical ﬁgure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an inﬂuence on you, and explain that inﬂuence. • A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you. • Topic of your choice. UW Application Essay #1 The University of Wisconsin values an educational environment that provides all members of the campus community with opportunities to grow and develop intellectually, personally, culturally, and socially. In order to give us a more complete picture of you as an individual, please tell us about the particular life experiences, perspectives, talents, commitments and/or interests you will bring to our campus. In other words, how will your presence enrich our community? What do they mean? • What service activities have you been involved in that you will continue in college? • What ethnic diversity do you bring to the campus? • What leadership can you bring to a campus? • Do you have a unique talent or ability? • What sets you apart from other applicants? • What is unique about you? UW Essay #2 Tell us about your academic goals, circumstances that may have had an impact on your academic performance, and, in general, anything else you would like us to know in making an admission decision. What would they want to know? • Why do you want to go to UW-Madison? • What do you hope to gain from studying at and graduating from UW-Madison? • What are some challenges you have had in school and how did you overcome them? (Disabilities, for example) • Evidence of a hardship in your family. • First in your family to attend college. • Personal illness or other personal issues and how you overcame them. • Character-defining moments. • See your counselor if you have questions. Turn Negatives into Positives • It’s OK to have flaws! Example: • If you earned a poor grade but chose to retake the class to improve the grade. • Shows perseverance Readers don’t want to hear complaints about poor grades or circumstances, but rather how you have overcome them! Characteristics of a Good Personal Statement Is thoughtful and honest Strives for depth, not breadth Follows conventions of good writing Conforms to guidelines Answers the questions! Benefits from several drafts and feedback Contains a catchy introduction that keeps the reader interested • Demonstrates your knowledge of the major/college. • Exudes confidence – you will be successful no matter what • • • • • • • Essay Blunders • Repeats information contained elsewhere in the application • Writer complains about circumstances rather than take ownership/explains them • College prestige as reason for applying • Gimmicks • Wrong college name! • Errors, clichés • Too long or too short Lastly… • Follow instructions carefully • Proofread, proofread, proofread! When you have questions about the college application process, please stop in to see us. Good Luck in the application process!