Advice from the Whisperer- Writing the Personal Statement for College- Asking for Help

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In a blog ago I introduced the issue of writing the college application essay. Now lets look at each tip one by one…

Topic 1 – Asking a Teacher to Edit Your Paper

As times have changed from the paper-writing days of our parents when they went off to college, we also need to seek help from our high school teachers who are more “in the know” about college applications. Today’s educators have to keep up-to-date as they are the ones responsible for providing us with the education we need in order to obtain higher goals in life, such as going to college and eventually working a full-time job or career. So take some time aside and scout out one of your favorite teachers, who you know will give you good feedback, in helping you to write and edit your personal statement for college.

Yes we are all busy and have a life outside of high school but most teachers that you know well will be more than happy to help. They too had to do the same thing and its better to have a couple of people look at your paper than just one.

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The obvious teacher choice would be your English or History teachers as they know what to look for when writing an analytical paper. That does not mean you cannot ask your Science or Math teacher as well, just as long as it’s a teacher you have (or had if its been a couple of years) good rapport with. I chose my English honors teacher from my freshman year not only because he helped me to write well but because we had a good relationship with each other that I kept up throughout all of the four years of high school. Not sounding parental (the Whisperer can tend to do that at times!) but it is nice to kept up contact with teachers who you liked and who enjoyed your company when you were in their class. You only have them for such a short time in high school and who knows, they might be the ones that you can go to for a good recommendation letter as well as helping you to look over your paper.

Before approaching a teacher you need to go online first and look up information about the personal statement for the university you applying to. There will be a section that describes the personal statement with given topics and prompts to write about on the university websites. Try to address these topics by writing some notes about what experience or subject you think will relate to the prompt. After you have compiled your notes, seek out the teacher who you have in mind to help you. They may turn you down at first because they might have other students they are also helping to look over their essays (depends on how popular the teacher is!). But most of the time your first choice will be delighted you asked them for help. Your teacher will give you guidelines to make sure you are sticking to the prompt and the rest will write itself.

It will take some time for both you and your teacher to begin the editing process and that is where patience and managing your time comes in handy. You will have to visit your teacher during their break periods, your lunch time or even before or after school. Its a lot of extra time but it will be worth it in the end. Beyond your regular daily homework you will have to work on your college essay and keep up correspondence with the teacher who is helping you. You should set deadlines for each other to complete the paper but give some leeway as things do come up and you need to prepare for anything.

Once you and your teacher have completed the final drafts of your essay (or two depending on the prompts), leave them alone. You have been working on them for quite some time, potentially between two to four weeks, and your mind needs a break. Give it a few days and then come back to reading the paper again and bringing it in to your teacher for last minute grammatical corrections and clarity.

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Then after the ordeal is over do not forget to thank your teacher for their help! A hand-written note, email or even a batch of cookies and chocolate is an added bonus that anyone wouldn’t pass up! And let them know if you got into the college of your choice as they played a part in your success! :)

Next time, we will look at Topic 2: Experiences to Write About in the College Paper…

Come check out our onsite and online English Writing and AP English courses on our website  as they will provide a wealth of knowledge to help you write better! You can also contact our office in Irvine, CA for more details as well at: info@areteem.org.

Also to help you further help in improving your academic writing skills, check out the “Teens Writing for Teens” blog for some different options as well as many others.