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  • Writer's pictureAlison Merzel

COVID-19 Doesn't Define You

As high school juniors are preparing to write college essays, of course the novel coronavirus is top of mind. Every single one of us has been affected by the global pandemic in some way, although the impact has been much greater for some of us than others. The Common Application already announced that they will be adding an optional 250 word question for this year's applicants to address what this impact has been for them:

Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.

  • Do you wish to share anything on this topic? Y/N

  • Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.

This question enables applicants to address the impact of COVID-19 without compromising the personal statement essay, which is truly designed to help you communicate who you are to the college/university. While the COVID-19 essay enables you to provide information, explanation, and context to your current physical and mental well-being, your family's financial situation, changes to your academic performance, etc., it doesn't define you. It certainly has changed how you are able to live your life right now, but it hasn't changed you at the core.

You have a lifetime of experiences before this that have shaped who you are. You have values, feelings, beliefs and ideas that have been formed over time and that make you unique. You have grown from these experiences and can think back and reflect on the ways in which you have grown and what you have learned about yourself along the way. These are the the things that should come out in your personal statement. These are the things that only you are qualified to talk about and that only you will be bringing with you to college. Remember this as you sit down to write. What are the most important parts of yourself that you want the admissions committee to know? What is it that you are going to be bringing to their campus community that they want? How are you going to add value to your classmates, your professors, and your future alumni network? These are the kinds of questions that should be addressed, indirectly, in your personal statement. Don't lose sight of who you are - colleges are eager to get to know you.

Getting ready to write

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