Your College Golden Ticket

by Julia Reeder

At the beginning of this school year, most all senior english classes will be focusing on the development of students’ college admission essays. Under the stress of finding and applying for universities and scholarships already, it’s difficult, especially as a senior, to focus all of your energy into this essay becoming your ticket into your dream college(s). If you are struggling to compose one of your most important essay thus far, here are some helpful tips and steps for developing the best personal statement to make it nearly impossible for a college to say no to you.


  1. Choose Wisely. Most colleges have at least two prompts for you to choose between, others have you choose between prompts on the Common Application, and some even expand the essay’s potential as far as letting you decide what you’d like to write about. It is your job to pick the prompt that will best highlight you as a student, friend, or citizen. If you don’t care for art, then don’t choose a prompt asking you to describe a work that has touched you as a person– pretty simple. If you’re lucky, an experience, person, or moment in your life will pop into your head as soon as your eyes scan over the prompt.
  2. Analyze the Question. If someone asks you if you like dogs and you say you have a golden retriever, that’s great, but you neglected their question. It does not matter how well-written your college essay is if you do not properly address the prompt. A prompt is there for a reason; it acts as a guideline so you’re not stuck jotting down random thoughts. Look for the key question. A prompt most often comprises of at least two sentences, one to get you in the proper state of mind for that topic, and another to state its direct question. For example: Most people find their true selves within a talent, passion, or hobby. What is one passion or talent of yours that makes you who you are, and why? Be sure to analyze that prompt and remind yourself constantly to answer that key question.
  3. Map Out the Essay. Decide how you want to go about writing your response. Although as students we are very used to the MLA format, 5 paragraph essay, most colleges are not looking for that. College entrance essays are often referred to as a “Personal Statement” or “Narrative”. Narratives are most often written in the form of a story. Research some popular personal narratives and note how they turn their essay into a story worth telling. Figure out the way you want to tell your story. This includes setting, characters, plot-line, or scene. Include only aspects that contribute to the true meaning of the story
  4. Write Your Heart Out. All in all, you are speaking about you. It’s what you know most about. There’s no Wikipedia page on it, no research paper written— no one but you can address the prompt to its full ability when speaking about who you are and why you should be accepted into a certain college. In short, make yourself stand out. You have something to offer the world that no one else does. Show that.

Advice and Wisdom

“You’re not trying to win every college or university, you’re finding the right match.”

— Colleen Holub, AP Lit & Comp. Teacher


“Find a college that will fit you— don’t choose Stanford just because it’s a good school.”

— Sydney Rawlings, ’17


“It’s important to still be yourself while also addressing the prompt at hand.”

— Haley Parish, ‘17