What’s your story?

What’s your story? I think every application I read has a story to tell. Sometimes they come from the student in the form of a personal essay, sometimes from the counselor‘s notes, or from a teacher’s letter of recommendation. Finding the stories is part of what makes application reading interesting to me.  Clearly, reading through a student’s transcript, GPA, test scores, and extra-curricular activities is important, but as a bibliophile and a once-English-major, my favorite part of the application is always the personal essay. To me, the best essays come from the heart. They tell stories of triumph over adversity, or abject failure which propagates growth, or even a seemingly mundane task such as setting the dinner table or tuning an instrument. For students who write on a topic they feel passionate about, that enthusiasm translates, regardless of the topic. The well crafted essay hooks me with the excitement of its writer, much more than the content of its words.

Unfortunately, not all of the personal essays I read are about topics of interest – to me, or to the students writing them. Nothing ruins a good personal essay than a student who has chosen to write on a topic they care very little about, but think I want to read. Thankfully, those essays are few and far between, but nonetheless, an aspect of application-reading I could do without.

What about the application process could you have done without? What was your favorite part about writing your personal essay? Did you learn something about yourself? Did you struggle? Or did the story flow naturally from your fingers onto the screen? I would love to hear the stories you have to tell about writing the stories I enjoy reading!

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One response to “What’s your story?

  1. Julian Hayward

    I really enjoyed writing the optional “Why Whitman?” essay. Several people had asked me that question in conversation, (i.e “Gee whiz, why go all the way to Washington when there’s so many good schools right here in California?”) so that essay helped cement my decision in my own mind by requiring me to come up with a definite answer. It also got me very, very, very excited to come to Whitman.

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