by David Kurz
Looking back on my 17-year old life, I remember feeling a mix of uncertainty and pressure when it came time to write the college essay. In my experience, the personal statement was uniquely difficult because – unlike SATs, GPA, AP scores, and academic achievements – it was subjective, biased, and supremely personal. My college essay sometimes seemed like a blank sheet staring me in the face, daring me to be creative, fluid, and self-revealing in the midst of a high-stakes application. The good news is that, eventually, I was able to turn this daunting undertaking into a fun exercise that let me express my personality better than any other piece of my application.
I remember deciding that I wanted my essay to capture something about me that spoke to how I was singular. Something that only Dave Kurz could write. I recall leaning back in my chair, looking around, and thinking to myself: “What makes me different?” What I settled on certainly wasn’t perfect, but it did fit the criterion I had laid out for myself; my essay literally could not have been written by anybody else because of the distinctive way only I could unite various aspects of my life story. In my case, this meant writing about everything from Hungarian history to Spanish classes to soccer to kayaking to jazz trumpet to faith, and how they had all come together to make me who I was. I also included some minor details about my life that weren’t important in their own right – for instance, my high school habit of grabbing frozen waffles while running out the door – but added a personal touch to the writing. The key was not really what I wrote about, but how my writing captured my personality.
[Continue reading for Dave’s advice, and additional tips and resources]