As the battle of college applications rages on, seniors brandish their essay skills and break out every weapon possible.
The Class of 2013 has quite lofty expectations to live up to, but the real stress of the college process comes from the months of applications and all of the writing that is involved.
“We had 73% of students out of last year’s class accepted into four-year colleges,” counselor Jeff Schatz says. “It’s the highest we’ve ever hit.”
Writing personal statements and supplemental essays may be overwhelming, and if balancing the demands of senior year were not enough, figuring out what to write about is always in the back of the mind of seniors.
“It’s hard to know where to get started,” says Emma Fuzie, who is applying to theUniversityofSan Francisco.
Getting started is one thing, but making the entire essay absolutely flawless is another.
“It’s a lot of work,” says Billy Rudiger, who is applying to Duke and theNavalAcademy. “Personal statements are basically like writing a perfect essay every time.”
Perfection is close to impossible, making the process feel unattainable for many students. This seems to be one of the biggest struggles that burdens seniors.
“It’s stressful and overwhelming because you’re reflecting on your whole life,” says Kenna Little, who is applying to Stanford. “It’s a lot to think about.”
That’s another thing about writing personal statements: there’s an overwhelming amount of “life” to consider and to organize into a short summary. How do you condense something as important as your future into 500 words?
“Write the personal statements as soon as you can, maybe over the summer,” Rudiger advises.
There’s no denying the amount of reflection involved in writing college essays, so getting a head start may be a step in the right direction.
“If you get ahead and stay organized it can actually be fun,” says Sam Sunde, who is applying early action to Stanford.
The whole point of personal statements is for colleges to determine what kind of person is applying, and research is a vital asset even before the writing process begins.
“The hardest part is probably getting a working realistic list of where to apply,” college and career counselor Patricia Hunt says.
“Research colleges and majors and keep up with all the events in the senior packet,” says Ashley Aguirre, who is applying to theUniversityofChicago. “This will definitely help make an essay as strong as it can be.”
“It’s stressful because there’s so much to keep track of,” says Jackie Mauldwin, who is applying to Lewis andClarkCollege.
Figuring out what to keep track of and study in the next four years of one’s life is, by no means, an easy task. Organizing goals and distinguishing features as an applicant can help take the heat off that decision.
“The hardest part is identifying the unique aspects of them as an applicant,” counselor Darren Johnston says, “and then writing in such a way that appropriately markets them to their prospective universities.”
By determining the major of interest,Johnstonsays an applicant can write a personal statement that focuses on that interest, making for a better essay.
“It’s been long. I spent a lot of October break writing essays,” says Joe Sunde, applying early action to Stanford. “I have a lot done, but a lot to go.”
The thought of writing eight different essays and striving to pursue something besides high school is resonating with some seniors, and there is clearly a balancing act that comes with stress levels dictated by college applications.
“With everything you submit, you want to put forth your best work,” says Brittany File, who is verbally committed to Emory University for softball. “It’s one of the most important decisions of your life.”