JBH Tutoring has been supporting students on their college application personal statements for the past six years. Although we know that there is no one “right” way to craft a personal statement, admission officers have told us that they enjoy reading an essay beginning with a “story” involving the applicant followed by a “lesson,” in which the writer explains what they learned.
As writing coaches, we work hard to learn about how our colleagues across town and across the country approach the personal statement. This year, we added a new resource to our writing process. In addition to talking to students about what stories they want to tell and what they learned, we ask them to fill out the The College Essay Guy’s Values Exercise Worksheet. The worksheet asks students to identify values that resonate with them. As they brainstorm and begin to draft, we discuss the values they selected from the worksheet and encourage them to incorporate those “value words” into the lesson section of their essay. The worksheet has been especially helpful in drafting the lesson section of the essay, often the hardest part to write.