Who are you and What do you believe in?

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Who are you and What do you believe in?

Not everyone plans on attending college, but it is important to know who you are and what you believe in. This lesson is designed for you to tell us who you are while also providing you with a personal narrative that you can use if you choose to enroll in college.

The Personal Narrative

  • Only 500 words
  • Why are you different from everyone else?
  • How are you exceptional?
  • It’s time to stand up straight and believe in yourself

3 Steps to a Great Personal Narrative

  • Pre-Writing
  • Selecting the Topic
  • Writing the Narrative


  • Brainstorm
  • Discover Your Strengths
  • Create a Self-Outline
  • Find Patterns and Connections


  • Consider:
  • Major accomplishments
  • Attributes, qualities or skills
  • Favorite books, movies, works of art
  • Difficult time in life
  • Struggles and success
  • Struggles and failure
  • Moment of epiphany
  • Most unwavering personality trait
  • Extra-curriculars or community service
  • Dreams of the future

Help I’m Blocked!!!

  • Finding a topic can be difficult, especially one you really want to write on. If you have trouble coming up with a topic from the consider list, try the following:
  • Ask friends and parents about the personality trait they most see or strengths they think you have
  • Consider your childhood
  • Consider your role models
  • Read sample essays
  • Determine your goals

Create a Self-Outline

  • On the picture of your body, write several words that you can use as examples that relate to the body part.
  • (Be Careful…This is still school and it is still PG-13!)
  • Look for patterns or connections of activities/ideas that you can use as specific support for your topic

Types of Essays

  • Standard Essay---take 2-3 points from your self-outline and provide evidence that supports those ideas.
  • Less-Is-More Essay---focus on a single interesting point about yourself and support it (usually a paragraph or ½ pg)
  • Narrative Essay---tells a short and vivid story. (Omit the introduction, write one or two narrative paragraphs that grab and engage the reader’s attention, then explain what this little tale reveals about you)

Selecting a Topic

  • Synthesize personal characteristics and experiences as a whole WHILE addressing your desire to attend a certain college or get a certain job.
  • For college essays
    • BE sure to address the question asked of you
    • Look at the college’s website, admissions catalog, and have an understanding of the institution’s strengths

Selecting a Topic

  • Make sure to use vivid personal experiences
  • Avoid the gimmick. Not looking for a poem or sarcasm, just an interesting read
  • Don’t repeat yourself (ie: if you have your GPA on the college application, there is no need to write about it. No one likes a braggart)
  • Make the topic interesting and truthful
  • Stay away from controversial topics like religion, politics, or controversial opinions
  • Don’t use expensive words just because you know them and don’t use cheap words either

Sample Questions for College Essays or Personal Narratives

  • The “You” Question
  • The “Why Us” Question
    • Why is _____ school the choice for you?
  • The “Creative” Question
    • Do you believe there is a generation gap?
    • Person who influenced you

Your Main Goals in Writing the College Essay or Personal Narrative

  • Address your personal qualities
  • Explain the unexplained and avoid the obvious
  • Show your diversity
  • Address your strengths not weaknesses
  • Be truthful…there is no need to invent hardship…you are interesting.
  • Persuade the admissions officer you are worthy of admission to the college
  • Make people believe you are a real-life, intriguing personality

Tips for writing the college essay or personal narrative

  • Answer the Question
  • Be Original
  • Be Yourself
  • Don’t “Thesaurize” your Composition
  • Use Imagery and Clear, Vivid Prose
  • Spend the Most Time on your Introduction
    • Don’t summarize yourself in your intro.
    • Create intrigue and mystery
  • Examples must support your topic
    • Don’t just list a bunch of stuff you’ve done! BORING!!!
    • Repeat key words, ideas. Not just limited to phrases like “as a result, in addition, while…, since…”

The Conclusion

  • Avoid summarizing in your conclusion. Use this as a time reinforce your qualities.
  • Don’t not use “In conclusion” or “In summary”
  • Try these
    • What are the implications of your topic?
    • Link conclusion to introduction by reiterating a key phrase from the intro.
    • Redefine a term you used elsewhere in the paper

I’m done, now what?

  • Give your draft to others to read
  • Revise, revise, revise

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