The college application process is a taxing one, especially when combined with a student’s high school workload. Therefore, we at Moxie College Counseling often get a lot of questions about the viability of reusing essays. I’m not talking about repurposed essays from other college applications. That is sometimes okay to do with certain supplemental essays, as we discussed in a previous blog post. No, I’m talking about students attempting to use papers that they’ve written for English and History classes as their personal statements. Even though this idea might seem like an easy short-term solution to an arduous process, it is not a viable strategy for college application success.
What is the purpose of a college essay?
The reason for this conclusion lies in the basic purpose of a personal statement: to tell an admissions officer about a student from that student’s own unique perspective. Would an essay about Holden Caulfield’s Nihilism in The Catcher in the Rye fulfill this purpose? What about a foray into the way that Cold War symbolism still shapes American attitudes about the global east today? The answer in both cases (and all those that they represent) is, of course, no. Therefore, when a student comes to one of our essay specialists or counselors with an essay that they wrote for school, we start by reminding them about what a personal statement should accomplish. It should show a level of reflection. It should demonstrate some kind of growth or maturation of perspective. Most of all, it should be written in a tone that sounds as much like the student is speaking to the admissions officer as possible, as long as that facilitates readability and grammatical correctness. The folks in admissions will already know how accomplished of a student you are by looking at your transcript. In your college essay, they want to hear you talk about you.
Inspiration for Your College Essay
If you’re a student thinking about reusing an essay from school, instead of spending time in painstaking revision trying to make it fit a common application prompt, free yourself from that old writing and start drafting new ideas. Think of an anecdote, an anchor moment from which you can draw inspiration. Then, use that anchor to think of a few “I” statements that you would like to get across about yourself. For instance, a few reflective “I” statements that I’ve loved seeing from students in the past are:
“I am an advocate for folks who are less fortunate than I in the space of LGBTQ+ rights.”
“I am a hockey player and a friend for change when it comes to my involvement in Best Buddies. Teaching my buddy from school how to skate taught me a lot about mentorship.”
“I am a woman in STEM who hopes to increase accessibility for fellow women.”
Strong Ideas Lead to a Stellar Essay
From these strong ideas framed in a personal narrative, we can build out a stellar essay that will be a compelling reason for an admissions committee to consider you for acceptance. In this piece, we will discuss how you’ve grown into the mission-driven person that you are today. Doesn’t this sound much more exciting than a book report?