A letter to the high school seniors

Hello Senior High School Students, Better title maybe- Asha Iyer

It will be close to twelve summers since you stepped out of home, new-shod and satchel-laden, for your first day in school. The journey, which began with wary baby steps, slowly initiated you to learning the three Rs and prepared you for greater things in life, has reached a turning point now. You are now at a crossroads trying to determine which path to follow to keep your academic journey on track. Your apprehension is palpable, as you feel nearly as anxious today as you did on that first day. Older and more mature now, your satchel is richer with information and knowledge you have gathered in these dozen years, and you are peering far into the woods, wondering which road will make all the difference to your career and future. “Which college is my fit? Who will accept my? Will I make the cut?” The questions are many and apprehensions are manifold.

There is no doubting the academic records and excellence you have acquired over these years. You have a sterling resume and a topnotch test score, but so will thousands of others who nurse big dreams and tall ambitions as you. What then will set you apart from the rest, give you the edge and make the admissions committee exclaim, “Boy, is this application unique!”

When everything else is equal between applicants, when the grades match beyond distinction, what stands out will be YOU. Yes, you read that right. YOU hold the admission ticket to the course and college of your interest when the last of the criteria – The Personal Essay – becomes the litmus test. It’s now time to come out in your Sunday best and present that aspect of you that will be the final clincher.

Yet, it is not easy, as one has often known, to write that piece of personal literature that will be scanned thoroughly before the verdict on your admission is out. It entails knowing you at the core and writing about it in a way that leaves an indelible impression on the reader. There are the technical challenges – the Dos and the Don’ts that the evaluators are acutely cognizant of, the literary tropes and syntactic codes that are integral to effective writing and above all, a level of perseverance and self-assurance that will put your efforts notches above the ordinary.  

In a series of articles beginning this issue, we shall guide you through this ordeal of writing the personal essay in a way that will help you take on the task with confidence and help you put brick on brick to build that unique personality statement. Pull out your wares and be prepared. Together, we are going to find a way to tackle this task – not with customized bullet points or a readymade recipe that will make you a boring, robotic writer, but with a road map rolled out in an evenly-paced manner that will inspire you to draft remarkable essays of self-reflection and expression.

Writing the personal statement might be a serious assignment, but there is nothing sinister about it. Remember this – You are the key to your success, for no one knows you better and no one can write about it as well as you.

Wish you the best.

About the Author

Asha Iyer Kumar

Asha Iyer Kumar is a post graduate in Journalism from the University of Kerala and is presently a columnist with Khaleej Times, Dubai. She is also a tutor with many years of experience in training and inspiring school goers in creative writing and has a keen interest in developing expression and narrative skills in them. A freelance writer, author and poet who has dabbled in various genres of writing, she made her literary debut in 2009 with a novel, Sand Storms, Summer Rains, and published a book of verse, Hymns from the Heart, in 2014. Apart from this, she indulges in photography and painting, and integrates them in her literary endeavors.


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