Your student is given opportunities to show multiple dimensions of their lives via their personal statement as well as the Honors and Activities section. Recommenders have hopefully been guided as to which parts of the student profile they should highlight. Carefully crafted school documents should emphasize academic rigor and provide context, particularly if the student is a homeschooler. Each of these strands must stand alone while working with all the others to tell different parts of the same story.
The college supplements (other questions colleges want to know beyond the main Common Application) give us one last chance to finish the design. They often allow a student to tell about their most important activity, to explain why they want to attend that particular college, and to share a few more tidbits of information not covered elsewhere. I advise students to use these opportunities to show new dimensions, to delight the reader with something humorous, to add some sparkle to the emerging chronicle. Some colleges, for example, ask a string of short questions: favorite book, favorite keepsake, favorite website, etc. If the answer to all these is essentially the same, we lose a precious opportunity. Let’s say the student is a tennis player. If his personal statement is about the big tennis tournament, if his Activity Section has five of the ten slots taken up with tennis activities, if his recommender talks about the student’s performance in class and highlights the tennis wins as the only outside thing she is aware of, if the student’s favorite book is “The Inner Game of Tennis,” if his favorite keepsake is his grandfather’s tennis racket, if his favorite website is tennis statistics . . . . You get the point. We’ve learned nothing new about this student. While we do want to highlight passion, we don’t want to bore the Admissions Officer.
Choose your story strands carefully and realize that they all must work together to make a lovely design.
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