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On Reading College Essays

When I give presentations on the process of applying to college and specifically on the process of writing a personal statement, I encourage students to write with emotion.

It's my personal belief that writing with emotion means the author of the college essay is writing on a topic that has significance for him/her. And a topic with significance means it's probably a situation that is pretty unique and interesting, and one that is of deep interest to the student. I find myself (and I know some of my colleagues do too) at times moved by what is written by students. I can't say it happens often. But I have laughed; I have gotten mad; I have cried. And these tend to be the personal statements I remember most.

Your goal is to be remembered in this process. There are lots and lots of applicants applying to the University of Rochester. Your personal statement is the place where you can tell an admissions officer reading your file, "This is who I am. This is what makes me unique. This is my amazing story and because of this, I would add something valuable to your student body." I have been known to print personal statements that are written very well. I enjoy sharing these statements (keeping the author anonymous) with subsequent groups of students I am speaking with about the college application process.

My ultimate goal in writing this blog is to encourage students to take a risk and share something with the admissions office, by writing a college essay with significant meaning. High quality personal statements are what we look forward to reading!

Keep reading: Seven College Admissions Essays You Shouldn’t Write: Part One

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