There are two common mistakes that students often make with college essays. Mistake 1: writing about how a situation defined them rather than how they defined a situation. Mistake 2: writing a strong statement in and of itself that fails to effectively show the purpose and meaning of their accomplishments—that is, the “why” and “how” behind the “what.” For us, strong college essays aren’t just moving personal memoirs or ambitious statements of intent.

They’re both, and they’re something more as well: frameworks to understand the underlying narrative of the rest of the application in terms of what a student has done, is doing, and will do at college and in life. We’re always glad to work with and defer to outside college consultants who can support students in finding and pursuing their own narratives throughout high school. If you are not working with a college consultant, however, we can help with the essay process to effectively frame your narrative through the personal statement and supplements.