This is lesson 1.3 from the series, The Free Guide to Writing a Winning Admissions Essay.

Alright, you’ve convinced me. I’ll tell you a secret.

When picking that perfect story, there’s a biiiiig mistake that students tend to make: Students picking a story first, then they think of the message or main point stemming from the story… like this:

This is a problem. The message you want to tell the admissions officer is key to any good personal statement. You want to make this message the star of your writing.

The message is that one-liner statement that embodies who you are. It’s that one statement that you want the admissions officer to remember about you once he finishes reading your personal statement.

I don’t want you to fall into the same trap that hurt a lot of students. So, reverse your thinking and do this:

The key to crushing the college admissions essay is to figure out what on earth your message is.

Your message is your personal brand.

Basically, your personal brand are the qualities you possess that make you stand out from the other straight-A students applying to your dream school. What makes you, you? How are you unique?

To find your personal brand in 2 steps, do this:

  1. Come up with a list of 15 adjectives or phrases that describes you… these are aspects of you that you’re proud of and captures the essence of who you are.
  2. Then, find a story that captures this personal brand.

Here’s an Example of How to Find Your Personal Brand

A student of mine did this exercise.

She came up with a list which included the phrase, “asks a lot of questions.”

When I asked her to give me a reason why she thought she asked a lot of questions, she said something along the lines of,

“Oh, once, I went to a medical student forum and I noticed that guys tend to ask more questions than the girls. I didn’t like it that girls weren’t being represented. So, I decided I’ll be the only girl that asks questions, even though I’m usually too shy about raising my hand.”

This was it. This was the perfect story that embodied her personal brand.

Originally, this student had picked the story about attending a medical student forum in her admissions essay. And, her main point was that she was passionate about helping people and wanted to be a doctor.

She’s a naturally great writer, I’m sure this would’ve been a well-written essay. But, these types of essays are SO OVERDONE. And, it was already highlighted elsewhere in her application package that she’s clearly interested in being a doctor. So, writing about it her personal statement would’ve been a bad idea.

Instead, with my help, she found a story that illustrated her her personal brand: She’s the type to raise her hand unabashedly and add value to a conversation.

She nailed her personal brand which helped her nail her story.

Try this out. NOW!