A year ago today I was moving into my dorm room at Lehigh University for a 5 week long program in Global Entrepreneurship. I had no idea where I wanted to go to college, what I wanted to do, or any plans for the immediate or long term future. I was just going with the flow, doing what my parents wanted me to do for the summer. The program allowed me to meet 67 students from all over the world in the same situation as me: students who weren't quite sure what they wanted to do next, and were hoping that this program would help them figure it out.
The weeks flew by and we learned how to work together, learn, and create business plans for the local companies that we had been assigned to study. I hadn't started thinking much about college yet; it was still only July and as every rising senior can attest to, July is nowhere near time to start working on college applications.
The dread started setting in once I got home at the beginning of August. I was planning to go to Israel for two months in the winter of senior year, right when applications would be due.
My mom, who always knows best, wanted me to finish all the applications before I got on the plane. She found a program called Story to College, a company founded by South Orange resident Carol Barash, that works to help kids find their stories. No one can tell your personal story as well as you, and the personal statement portion of the common application is proven to be one of the most important things an admissions officer looks at. The personal statement allows the admissions officers to get a full picture, not just a look at grades and SAT scores.
The course was in NYC, so I had to take a train in every day for a week to get to the course. It was worth it. I hadn't wanted to go, I was sure that I could write the essays all by myself and that I didn't need anyone's help. I'm sure if I hadn't done the Story to College program I would have crammed in all the essays at the end of November right before I left, and while they would have been passable, they wouldn't have been my best work. This was my best work.
Story to College sat me down, and asked me to tell my story. Why am I who I am? Who am I, really? They confronted me with those nasty questions that no one really knows how to answer, and wouldn't let me stop until I figured it out. Not only did I finish the course with a portfolio of essays that I would use both for my college applications and for scholarship opportunities, it gave me a deeper look into who I am as a person.
The model I had always used for writing was the generic five paragraph essay that's been drummed into our heads in school since forever. Story to College showed me that when I want to talk about myself it is better to show who you are instead of telling. Instead of saying I am independent, share a moment that shows independence.
I don't know all my future plans any more than I did a year ago, but I know that with the skills Story to College gave me I am well on my way to successfully figuring it out as I go. www.storytocollege.com www.facebook.com/storytocollege