Lesson Five: How to Market Yourself
Lesson Summary and Objectives
Lesson five will teach you how to market and advocate for yourself when applying to college and writing a personal statement. This lesson covers how to prepare to write a personal statement and the Common App personal essay as well as the importance of recommendation letters and how to go about getting them for your college and job applications.
Teach students how to confidently market themselves as accomplished and successful high school students.
Help students learn the process for writing an essay for college admission (i.e., personal statement and Common App personal essay).
Highlight the importance of recommendation letters and how to obtain them for college and job applications.
Before you get started…
What is a Personal Statement?
A personal statement supports your application to study at a university or college. It’s an opportunity to write about yourself and tell admissions staff why you’re suitable to study at their institution.
In addition, you’ll want to articulate why you’d like to study a particular major, and what skills and experience you possess that show your passion for your chosen field. This means writing about your future plans.
Universities and colleges will require a personal statement if they admit students based on a holistic review. If you are applying to multiple institutions, we recommend writing one personal statement that can be adapted to specific guidelines set forth by the university or college.
Here are some ideas to get you started on writing a personal statement:
Revisit the college application worksheet to prepare to write a personal statement.
Common Application Personal Essay
The Common Application, or Common App, is a college application portal that is accepted by more than 900 schools.
Within the Common App is a writing portion where you can submit a personal essay to the institutions that require it. All prospective schools will read this personal statement to evaluate your critical thinking skills and value as a student. Since this essay is read by many colleges, avoid mentioning any college names or programs. Instead, save tailored answers for the supplementary school-specific essays within the Common App.
Regardless of your prompt choice, admissions officers will look for an ability to clearly and creatively communicate your ideas based on the selected prompt.
Practice writing a personal essay for the Common Application with this freewriting worksheet!
There are seven Common App essay prompts to choose from to write one essay (between 250-650 words):
Each school has different requirements/word counts for their essay questions, so be sure to check the specified word count for each section. The system will prompt you if you exceed or do not meet the word limit for any given essay question. Some schools have their word count specified in the question, so make sure to read each question carefully.
Letters of Recommendation
A letter of recommendation is a letter written to vouch for a student’s educational or professional experience, qualities, and skills. Letters of recommendation are typically requested as part of the application process for admissions to a university or college or a scholarship.
Why are letters of recommendation important?
The majority of admissions officers at four-year colleges, especially private schools, emphasize that their process is holistic. They seek to gain a sense of the student as a “whole person,” rather than focusing on pieces of who she is based solely on grades and test scores. Since they
rarely meet the student in person letters of recommendation, along with the student’s personal statement, play a huge role in illuminating their intellectual and personal qualities.
That’s why letters of recommendation from teachers, especially those who know their students well, carry a great deal of weight in applications. A letter that expresses a strong vote of support, as well as highlights a student’s impressive academic and personal strengths, can have a powerful effect on that student’s chances of admission.
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