Many thanks to Marisa Kogan, Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Yale University, for visiting with our 5th formers this past Thursday and sharing her insights into the development of a student’s personal essay, a crucial yet often challenging component of all college applications. Ms. Kogan, who has also been a member of admissions teams at UPenn and Georgetown University, echoed many of the messages delivered during our fall college seminar sessions. While successful approaches to the personal essay can vary widely, Ms. Kogan emphasized that the narrative:
- should be the result of a diligent, thoughtful process developed over the course of the upcoming summer and fall;
- must be an authentic representation of the student’s voice;
- and should be an honest insight into the student’s personality, character, values, and/or formative experiences.
Ms. Kogan also affirmed the value of storytelling in underscoring a student’s key message in the essay. And she also warned against attempts to impress college admissions officers by presenting a “laundry list” of accomplishments, each of which should have already been noted in other parts of the application. Her guidance should help our juniors springboard into the all-important summer months prior to their senior fall.