The Personal Statement: A Write of Passage
When a student understands not just *what* to write, but why and how to do it, they don’t just write a statement. They claim who they are now, and clarify who they will become. No one can do this for them. A personal statement needs to be written by the person stating it, period.
What doesn’t Work
A lot of websites and private consulting firms in the landscape of college admissions aim pretty low: selling parents fear and mistrust of their teen that only further undermines their child’s ability to grow up and be prepared for college.
Because admissions advisors are trained in how to read statements, not in how to write them, their advice–even on “what to write” can often leave high school applicants confused or overwhelmed. High school counselors and teachers tend to be overburdened and just can’t provide tailored feedback to help students sift through the overwhelming number of variables at issue in their particular situation. What’s more, the student needs to take the lead.
What does Work
As an experienced and recognized college writing teacher, I see the whole enterprise of college differently. I want high school students to claim their future with an eye toward success and well-being in college and beyond. At the same time, I want to help concerned parents to support their emerging young adults.
The personal statement is truly a “write of passage” in a secular culture that doesn’t otherwise have formal rites of passage. I inspire teens to claim their maturity through a series of self-reflective writing tasks that help them to access their own highest values and build skills that will carry them confidently to college (and life) success.