Student News - What's Happening at GRCC

Home Issue No 59| Winter Quarter | January/February 2012


Featured Story

Green River Offers Additional Services to International Students.

Charlotte West helps Lucy with her personal statement

Charlotte West helps Lucy Liu with her personal statement.

Coaching Students on Their Personal Statements for Transfer

By Charlotte West

When you study abroad at Green River, we work with you to develop a comprehensive transfer plan to a four-year university. We offer one-on-one writing sessions to support you in writing your personal statements for your transfer applications. For many students, this is a challenging task as it requires you to reflect and think critically about what makes you stand out as an applicant. We believe the writing process itself can be valuable experience that will help you well beyond the application deadline. You'll learn skills that are applicable to things such as writing cover letters for jobs and excelling in interviews.

Even if you are in your first year at Green River, it's never too early to start thinking about your personal statement. Writing these essays is your opportunity to let the admissions committee see who you are as an applicant above and beyond your academic transcripts and list of extracurricular activities. It's also a chance to address any issues or circumstances you might want to explain in more detail.

Here are five tips to help you get started:

  1. Get involved! Keep a list of activities, events, memories and experiences both in and out of the classroom that are important to you. This will be helpful when it's time to start writing.
  2. Ask your friends and family about what makes you unique. Do they all use the same words to describe you? Maybe your mom can remember the first time you took apart a toy airplane, which eventually led you to choose a major in aviation.
  3. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. It's okay to talk about challenging situations, but make sure you use it to demonstrate how you have grown and become a stronger person, not to make the admission committee feel sorry for you. In other words, explain, don't complain.
  4. Start researching the universities you are interested in and think about why that particular institution would be a good fit for you. There is more to your education than a university with a good ranking, ranging from research areas and internship opportunities to volunteer organizations and student leadership opportunities. Make sure you can articulate what makes the institution you are writing about different than other schools you might be applying to.
  5. Be who you are and write from the heart. Think about writing a personal statement as a kind of storytelling. Tell your own story.

Charlotte West received her bachelor's degrees in History and International Studies at Seattle University. She was a Fulbright scholar to Stockholm, Sweden, where she lived for six years. In addition to working as a freelance writer and translator, she works as a part-time international student advisor at Green River, specializing in coaching students on their personal statements.

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