I know: who in the world wants to be writing huge essays when you’re trying to wrap up junior year?
For that reason I say, it’s time for LISTS. Lists of your Marquee Moments and Action Verbs. No essays necessary right now: just lots of listing and brainstorming.
(Unless, of course, you wax verbose like me and have all the words. Then do start a draft, especially if the spirit moves you. You may get the best idea for an essay, or one line that sums you up, so don’t let that idea get lost! Jot it down.)
What’s a Marquee Moment?
Your high school career is full of many experiences, achievements, and moments, but which are marquee worthy? Picture the big awning above an old-school movie theater with your name spelled out, and the words for you, the movie: BEST EXPERIENCE EVER WAS…
That’s a Marquee Moment. Not the four years you slogged across the cross country trails, day in and day out of the season. That’s commitment, that’s drive, that’s worth noting on the résumé for sure. But let’s say you were a devoted team member with no particular story to tell. What you ought to talk about instead is the third grader you bonded with in the tutoring program you did this year for the first time ever, and how you two made up rhymes and raps about multiplication tables.
That might not seem like it’s worthy of a marquee, but trust me, it is. It needs to top The List.
if you have fond memories, joy, and passion telling a story from the last three years, then that might just be the Personal Statement in the making. That might just be a part of a supplemental essay.
Write down all the things that make high school what it is and was, both inside and outside of school.
From the littlest to the biggest moments, events, activities, what are the things that you will always remember?
Note that I’m asking you to think about you right now, not your audience. There’s plenty of time for thinking about your audience. Right now, a good goal to have is identifying all the original, specific bits of your personal story.
Why Action Verbs?
Action verbs are verbs that glow with Just Do It. Not “participated” or “attended.” No, the bullets on your résumé and the lists you should be making now ought to have words such as
…you get the idea.
Recently when chatting with an application reader, we talked about how sometimes students miss the mark with activity descriptions on their applications and résumé. They choose dim, dull verbs that make them blend into the woodwork, and they don’t prioritize the order according to biggest moments and stories.
Action verbs are fire. They leap like flames off your page to show you as someone who did things in high school, and didn’t just show up.
Don’t skip this step of figuring out what has meant the most to you in your high school career, and don’t hide your lamp under a bushel with self-effacing words.
If you think you’re ready to schedule some time for your essay, check out my Services. I have all sorts of plans for students at different stages of the process. I love working with nervous and unsure writers, writers on a quest to figure out their story, and those who’ve written draft number seven. All are welcome!
So go grab a tiny notepad and see if you can fill a page today with some lists. Start small while thinking big. And by big, I mean about think about You, the Star of This Show.