Personal Statement - Castro Valley High School

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Sharon Travers
Writing Coach & College Advisor
 Introduction
 Personal
Statement
Basics
• Purpose
• Comparing Prompts
• Writing with Insight
• Engaging the Reader
• Dos and Don’ts
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising






Add dimension and context to
the application
Reveal personality and make
connection
Explain unique circumstances
Show how you will add to
university
Demonstrate writing and
thinking skills
Limitations and reality
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising
THE COMMON
APPLICATION
• Six prompt choices
• Address one prompt
• 250-500 words
• One work/
extracurricular prompt
(1,000 character max.)
• Additional essays by
college – Supplemental
• Due dates vary
U.C.
• Two mandatory
•
•
•
•
prompts
Must address both
mandatory prompts
1,000 word maximum
total
One optional prompt
(550 word max.)
Applications due
November 30
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising
1.
Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have
taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you
2.
Discuss some issue of personal, national, or international concern
and its importance to you
3.
Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and
describe that influence
4.
Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative
work that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence
5.
Given your personal background, describe an experience that
illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college
community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of
diversity to you
6.
Topic of your choice
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising

U.C. Prompt #1
• Describe the world you come from — for
example, your family, community or
school — and tell us how your world has
shaped your dreams and aspirations.

U.C. Prompt #2
• Tell us about a personal quality, talent,
accomplishment, contribution or
experience that is important to you. What
about this quality or accomplishment
makes you proud and how does it relate
to the person you are?
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising

“If necessary, you may use this space to tell us
anything else you want us to know that you have
not had the opportunity to describe elsewhere in
the application”
• Purpose is to allow you to provide additional information
that you have not been able to provide elsewhere in your
application
• Leave the third prompt blank if you do not have any
additional information to add
• Separate 550 word limit
(c) Sharon Travers, True North College Advising
 Prompt
1: About Your World
and How It’s Shaped You
• Family, Community or School
– choose one only
 Prompt
2: About You
• Quality, Talent,
Accomplishment,
Contribution, or Experience
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising
 Answer
both
components of each
prompt
• Describe and Make
Meaning: Insight is Key
• Small, specific story
can reveal something
greater about you
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising


Outside, In
• What attributes do
you want the reader
to know about you?
• Write an essay that
shows those
attributes
Inside, Out
• Think deeply about
your life and what has
influenced you
• Reflect that
understanding and
insight in your essays
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising
 Challenge: Student
felt
she had not really “done”
anything significant
 Strategy: Think
about
recent experiences and
interests
• Interest in early
childhood development
• Worked at pre-school
during summer
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising
 Identify
Specific
Experience
• Helped a boy who was behind learn
to write his name

Reflect on Experience
• Felt good to help him
• Why?
 Helped him catch up to peers
 Go deeper…
 Every kid needs to be able to
write his/her name
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising

What does writing
enable us to do or
become?
• Identity
• Independence, freedom
• How we learn who we are

Insight = Student…
• Realized significance of the
act of writing
• Discovered importance of
her role as an educator and
clarified her passion for
teaching
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising
 Intriguing
introduction
 Sensory details
 Connect specific
incident to larger
theme
 Reveal personality
 Reflective
 Connect to values or
attributes
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising
VERSION 1
I have always had an
interest in early childhood
development. Last summer,
I worked at my mother’s
preschool, and the
highlight of this
experience was helping a
four-year-old learn to
write his name. Nicholas
was the same age as the
others but was behind in
many ways. After weeks of
working together, he was
so excited when he finally
was able to write his name
correctly.
VERSION 2
Four-year-old Nicholas
hollered in triumph. The
entire class of
preschoolers looked up
from the stories they were
writing about butterflies to
see Nicholas waving his
paper excitedly. On it, for
the first time, was his name.
The “N” was a little wobbly
and the “s” was backwards,
but it was all there. “You did
it!” I said proudly. Weeks of
working together had
yielded his victory.
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising
• Write it yourself
• Write about yourself
• Provide additional
information
• Write about recent
experiences or
accomplishments
• Examples of leadership,
involvement, passion,
responsibility
• Provide specific examples
• Keep statement focused
• Have teacher, counselor,
or adviser read it
• Read instructions carefully
 Go to: University of California –
How to Apply – Personal
Statement
University of California, Davis
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising
• Don’t just list
accomplishments
• Don’t use gimmicky
writing techniques
• Don’t write more about
an inspirational person
than about yourself
 Don’t exceed total
maximum length
 Don’t include work
samples, letters of
recommendation, etc.
University of California, Davis
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising

Begin writing process now:
•
•
•
•
Reflect before writing
Write from the heart
Think before writing about sensitive subjects
Brainstorm, pre-write, draft, and edit

Parents: provide support, but give student the lead

Use your resources – CVHS Essay Workshop,
teachers, Career Center, counselors

Don’t think of the essay as an “assignment” – it’s a gift
• Everything else on application is “past” – this is one place you
can actively control now
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising
Contact me at [email protected]
www.truenorthcollegeadvising.com
© Sharon Travers, True North College Advising
(c) Sharon Travers, True North College Advising
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