by Javier Irizarry, CMPI Violin Fellow
Crafting a college essay can be a daunting task, particularly for those who underestimate the substantial workload involved. My initial attempt at creating a college ‘personal’ essay served as a valuable lesson, highlighting the considerable effort required to develop a composition encompassing all the necessary elements.
To offer guidance to others undertaking this endeavor, I emphatically suggest initiating the process early. The first crucial step is to meticulously contemplate the entire essay-writing process. Begin by generating a pool of ideas about topics that not only resonate with your identity but also effectively convey the crucial aspects of who you are as an individual aside from being a prospective music student. To ensure the uniqueness of your personal essay, express ideas that admission officers won’t encounter in other sections of your application. It’s imperative to avoid solely focusing on your major, as you’ll have ample opportunities to delve into that aspect in your supplemental essays.
In crafting my personal essay, I adhered to the guiding principle known as the one-third rule. Allocate one-third of the essay to provide context, another third to present the problem or conflict, and the final third to articulate how you resolved the conflict and the valuable lessons learned. The emphasis should be on narrating your unique story and showcasing your capabilities to incite positive change within any college community.
From my perspective, supplemental essays present an even greater challenge than the standard personal essay required by most colleges and universities. When approaching these supplementary pieces, my best advice is to be specific and conduct thorough research. Mentioning particular clubs or highlighting distinct aspects of the location effectively demonstrates your character as a student and underscores how you can contribute to their student body. Fortunately, many supplemental essay prompts tend to overlap, allowing you to reuse similar ideas or structures from other essays.
The entire essay-writing process demands thoughtful consideration and continuous refinement. If possible, seek the guidance of someone who can assist you in reviewing and polishing your essay, providing constructive feedback. Consider finding someone who has experience writing college essays or has been through the application process themselves. They can provide valuable insight and feedback that can help you make your essay stand out. It’s crucial to identify this person early on and communicate your intention to approach them regularly with different versions of your essay for feedback, ensuring a comprehensive and well-crafted final product.