The Personal Essay for College Admissions

by Betsy Bingham-Johns

It’s that time of year at Colorado Rocky Mountain School where the junior class has begun the process of writing their personal essay for college admissions. Here are a few tips on the best way to approach what could be considered by some to be a challenging topic.

The personal essay gives students an opportunity to bring their voice into the application. It allows the admissions reader to gain a sense of the applicant’s personality and to get to know them beyond grades and test scores. Sharing a story that provides insight into applicants’ personal qualities is one of the best ways to help schools understand how the student will fit into their community

First, brainstorm and consider objects, events and moments that make up the stories of your life. Consider how these stories highlight your personal characteristics and then choose several essay topics that might provide a canvas for your narrative.

Remember, this is a personal narrative—not the sort of expository essay you write for a class assignment, and definitely not a restatement of your activities and accomplishments in paragraph format.

• Tell a story only you can tell

• Write in the first person, present tense

• Make it a slice of life – a moment in time

• Show, rather than tell

• Provide rich sensory detail

• Use metaphors

• Be very selective with adjectives

• Get your story on paper without editing (that comes later)

For more information on the college counseling process at CRMS visit:

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