Sept. 20, 2022

The Personal Essay (Part 6). Steps to Create Your 4th Draft. How to Avoid Making the Wrong Impression on College Admission Officers. Ensuring Your Essay Communicates Your Intended Message

The Personal Essay (Part 6). Steps to Create Your 4th Draft. How to Avoid Making the Wrong Impression on College Admission Officers. Ensuring Your Essay Communicates Your Intended Message
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#102 – Today, we reach the next step in crafting the personal essay. Jankel and I uncover the process of calibrating the 3rd draft in such a way that it becomes a message that communicates the intended message.

We go over the questions to ask to guide that calibration. In the first half of the episode we talk about a mistake some students make when writing their personal essay.

Unfortunately for them, that mistake garners them negative attention from college admission officers. The good news is that it is easy for students to avoid making that mistake. We will tell you all about it.

Once the 4th draft is completed, it will be ready to be presented to others for reading and providing feedback.

Questions presented on this episode:

To help you calibrate your 3rd draft to arrive to your 4th draft, we have formulated the following questions.

  1. Does this essay stick to the prompt I chose? In other words, does it address the question or the instructions on the prompt, or did I completely lose my way and began to write about something else?
    • This is really important because one of the reasons why your essay will get the wrong kind of attention from college admission officers, is if you veer off the prompt and don’t follow the instructions or the question in the prompt you chose to answers
    • They do not like that. It would be horrible to put all this effort, time and attention into an essay that, in the end, does not answer what it was meant to answer

         These are the essay prompts you would have chosen from in the CommonApp:

    • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. 
    • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 
    • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
    • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you? 
    • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. 
    • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? 
    • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. 
  1. In terms of the length of the essay
    • What is the word count?
    • Does it fall short of the minimum word limit of 250?
    • Or, does it exceed the maximum word limit of 650?
    • If it is not within the 250 to 650 word limit, what can you do to make it fit the guidelines?
    • Remember to remain objective in your writing. If something does not make your essay stronger, get rid of it!
  1. Think of a person who does not know you and has never met you. As yourself, if that person read this essay…
    • What would that person learn about you after reading this essay? Think about some of the details that person would learn about you. What are those details
    • What kind of person would that person think you are? Or, who would that person say you are?
    • Is that who you are?
  1. When thinking about everything you wrote on your essay
    • Do you feel that you provided the information you told the story you wanted to tell?
    • Does that story actually present the information about you that you wanted to present?
    • Did you tell the story you wanted to tell about you?
  1. Does the story come alive?
    • Was I positive and present and communicate excitement in my writing?
    • Did I communicate my passion in my writing?

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