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Oakton Outlook

The student news site of Oakton High School

Oakton Outlook

The student news site of Oakton High School

Oakton Outlook

Your Life in 650 Words

Personal Statement/College Essay Tips from Oakton Seniors


“The college essay process is probably the largest undertaking many will go through in all of high school,” remarks Lucas Weaver (12). For many, this is indeed true. “It’s almost as if you don’t write a good essay, you won’t get into college,” Jesse Gerber (12) says, “It makes life so much more stressful.” 

Mentioning the term “personal statement” sparks a multitude of emotions in Oakton Seniors. Eve Drew-Mazariegos (12) comments, “[The college application process] is both a terrifying and simultaneously exciting experience.” This kind of sentiment is common among most seniors. They must navigate through complex, conflicting feelings throughout the essay process and in their lives outside of it. “It is very draining,” says Addy Yadav (12), but she also remarks that the stress “will help [her] in college” by teaching her to “manage the time with other factors in life.”

Because this process is so dynamic, one must get all the help they need. Here are some of the main tips mentioned by Oakton Seniors:


Be Yourself

“I know this is quite cheesy,” Drew-Mazariegos remarks, “but this definitely has truth to it!” She emphasizes “[having] a solid point to what the story is trying to illustrate.”

“I think the subject doesn’t matter much as long as you are passionate,” asserts Weaver, “Just pick something you are able to write about for the next two months.”

“Don’t write a sob story to make the admissions advisors pity you,” Gerber warns. 


Have a Point/Message

“Make sure you emphasize how [your experiences] made you stronger as a person and what you learned from the experience,” says Gerber. 

“Have a solid point to what your story is trying to illustrate about you,” – Drew-Mazariegos


Focus on Structure

“Structure is genuinely the most important aspect of your essay,” emphasizes Weaver. “Make sure that one idea flows nicely into the next and that your conclusions are well supported and consistent.”

“And do not use the five-paragraph structure you were taught in English,” he also warns. 

“Create an outline and multiple drafts and pick out the best parts of each to make the final essay  effective,” says Yadav


Make sure college-specific essays are college-specific

“If they have optional supplemental questions, do them anyway; it shows you are genuinely interested in going to their college.” – Gerber

“You should be able to erase all mentions of the college by name and still know what college you are talking about,” – Weaver

“Do your research! Try to know the culture of the college, what students in your major of interest are going through, what major classes or organizations you’d like to join, and what you bring to the table,” – Drew-Mazariegos


Take the time to introspect

“You have to be willing to dive deeper and learn about yourself through this process,” – Gerber 

“[Introspection] allows students to view themselves in a different light” – Yadav

“College essays definitely give a lot of room for introspection. It’s up to students if they want to take on something that can be quite heavy to think about. It just takes some creativity and a lot of self-reflection.” – Drew-Mazariegos

“For a lot of people, [the college essay process] is a good opportunity to think about the nature of identity. How are you different from the person next to you? What experiences make you unique? Usually, the answers to these questions are the seeds of an amazing essay.” – Weaver

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About the Contributor
Elijah Suk
Elijah Suk, Copy Editor
Hi! My name is Elijah Suk, Senior at Oakton High and the 2023-24 Copy Editor for the Outlook.  I enjoy writing in my spare time, writing research papers, short stories, and movie reviews. Speaking of movies, I’m an avid movie watcher and have logged over 600 films. In these movies, I pay attention to the character psychology of the characters, sparking my own interest in pursuing psychology in the future. This is my second year with the Outlook, and I’m really excited to proofread all of these great articles!