Choosing a personal statement topic

Recorded Tuesday, November 9 at 01:00 AM

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About this livestream


The personal statement is the most important essay you’ll write during the college admissions process; it’s how you’ll communicate your personality and experiences to the admissions officers who will ultimately decide if you’re a good fit for their school.

In this stream, Robert will be providing a full breakdown of everything you need to know about brainstorming a personal statement, including: what admissions officers are looking for, common mistakes to avoid, and general tips for writing. He'll also go through an example of an essay or two on-air so you can see how admissions officers would critique this kind of essay.

Robert will also open up the floor for a Q&A session to answer any questions you may have about choosing a personal statement topic.

Your host

Undergrad College: Yale University '21

Major: Ethics, Politics & Economics; Classics (Intensive)

Work Experience: As a recent graduate of Yale University, I am excited to begin my first year with CollegeVine! In many ways, CV was a natural fit for me -- at Yale, I worked for over two years in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, beginning as a Senior Interviewer in the summer of 2019, during which I interviewed over 200 first-year applicants for the 2019-2020 college admissions cycle. After the summer ended, I became Lead Recruitment Coordinator, a full-time position responsible for executing and overseeing Yale’s numerous post-admissions decision yield initiatives, as well as serving as a spokesman for the university both in person and online. Over the past two years, I have had the privilege of interacting with hundreds of students and their families at all stages of the college application process.

My Admissions Story: Having always been interested in studying a variety of subjects within the Humanities and Social Sciences, I applied to a smattering of liberal arts colleges and universities (mostly on the East Coast) with strong departments in these areas, large and diverse student bodies, and varied extracurricular opportunities. When my college admissions decisions rolled in, I immediately accepted an offer from my dream school, Yale University, which I had always felt best embodied the opportunities and goals that I desired from my college experience -- and since that day, I’ve never looked back.

Audience questions

These are questions from the audience that we had time to answer during the live session. If you have any other questions, you can request an answer from Robert and other CollegeVine experts in an upcoming livestream or on the Q&A Forum anytime.
1:24@Livia:I can see and hear you
1:27@dellana:all good!
1:29@Jeanne:How far in advance of applying should this be done? As a Junior?
20:53@yunaham23:^ quote from yoda - thanks google :)
20:56@Livia:What exactly are ALL of the essays you need to write?
23:58@snsh5713:This question is aside from the main topic since you mentioned that you are a Classics major. I am intending to apply as a Classics major and Women and Gender Studies. I have a strong profile in both but my AP Latin score is 3. Can this be viewed as a dealbreaker for a Classics major?
26:34@Kaz2024:How do I get in?
28:00@benitaomietimi:should you include mental health in your essay
28:06@Jwrite:How relevant could an essay be on overcoming a rare diagnosis or condition admissions officers may not have even heard of?
30:13@hihowareya:Is writing about how I overcame my inner naysayer considered mundane or common
32:08@Jwrite:I think you answered my question pretty well.
32:11@yunaham23:Some people advise that you should avoid talking about the extracurriculars that you put in your Common App... is that true?
34:19@Polar0bsession:hello, for these essays, could these experiences be short? for example, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about an experience that theyve had for a long time but could we write about something that happened in the summer that really affected you?
35:43@H1jab1Pr1nce55:My dream is Columbia, but I am from a small town school and barely have any elective and no AP what should I do differently to stand out, coming from a tiny school? (my class has 6 kids)
39:12@H1jab1Pr1nce55:could you answer mine, go down the row, please?
39:12@H1jab1Pr1nce55:What are your thoughts for someone coming from a small school and doesn't have enough coursework but tried to start their own initiative?
39:33@Seema:sorry commonapp
40:00@benitaomietimi:is class rank a deal breaker in gaining acceptance in the ivy league
41:11@Obinna1:Are there specific words and phrases we can include in our essays to effectively express our ideas?
42:58@Obinna1:Thank you Mr. Robert :)
43:07@Polar0bsession:@Obinna1 I read from an article that we should use our own vocabulary in personal essays to show who you are as a person
47:13@Obinna1:Alright @Polar0bsession. Thank you!
47:16@VM22:Will you share today’s presentation?
63:37@benitaomietimi:if your gpa isnt up to the average accepted students of a school, can you make up for it with a good SAT/ACT score and a good essay?
63:47@dellana:you've been very helpful!
66:06@Sk124:Mine is just a question that is not related to the subject we are discussing now. Does moving in the middle of your 11th grade year to another state be problematic or does it affect you adversely in college apps?
67:09@lala05:my class rank dropped from 1st to 4th, should i still mention my class rank on my application?
68:10@Polar0bsession:Do you think we could connect activities we do like video gaming rather than academics for these essays, or would it beneficial to connect an experience to your major
69:41@benitaomietimi:is class rank a deal breaker in gaining acceptance in the ivy league?
69:57@Sk124:Does moving in the middle of your 11th grade year to another state be problematic or does it affect you adversely in college apps?
70:33@H1jab1Pr1nce55:Does your personal statement essay have to be about one thing or many things, for ex. instead of writing about one experience, you tell about a lot of experiences that define you.
72:58@quelquefaire:If you have many subjects you would like to write about, what would you suggest to narrow down to one topic?
74:16@Kaz2024:I live a pretty regular life. How could I make my essay interesting
76:10@JasmineSciarillo:How many Ivy League schools did you apply to?
76:51@Polar0bsession:When is the best time to draft and write these personal essays
77:47@Polar0bsession:I’m a sophomore lol 😎
79:23@HelloHome:How many did you get into? Was Yale your best fit? Do you regret applying to so many?
82:43@HelloHome:As a Yale person, do you have strong feelings about Harvard?
83:50@HelloHome:* still coming even if we're an hour late because we know your streams always last like 5 hours *
83:56@HelloHome:Can we have a Robert vs. Elias Yale vs. Harvard stream
84:45@lala05:is it productive to get a 2nd opinion on your personal statement or would it take away the authenticity of the writing?
88:20@Tatiana_NB:Thank you for the great presentation and discussion


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