Video by: Shania Sukhu, Queens High School for the Sciences at York College

Many colleges require you to submit an essay or personal statement as part of the application process. It may sound like a chore, and it will certainly take some thought and time, but it’s also a unique opportunity that can make a difference in whether or not you’re accepted. Admissions committees put the most weight on your high school grades and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic your test scores. This year many schools will not be requiring SAT/ ACT test scores and will rely on a personal statement, letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities to make admissions decisions. Use the opportunity of submitting an essay to set yourself apart from the other talented candidates!

Step 1: Brainstorm– Choose your topic wisely and think about including a story about something meaningful to you. Your topic could reflect your core values, something that sets you apart from other candidates, or something else that has impacted your life.

Step 2: Draft– It’s time to begin writing. Use your own voice and don’t try to write like your favorite author, you want the committee reading your essay to learn about you when they read it. Do more than just tell the story, describe what you learned from the experience and how it changed you. Keep in mind that colleges will often have a topic question for the essay they’d like submitted. Make sure you are answering their question and not just reusing an essay you already submitted somewhere else!

Step 3- Edit– Have at least one other person read and edit your essay. A teacher, friend, older sibling, trusted mentor or college counselor is likely your best resource. Lastly, before you send your essay off, check, check again, and then triple check to make sure your essay is free of spelling or grammatical errors.