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Which topic is better for the Common App personal statement?

kkendallkkendall Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
I would be using this topic to respond to the Common App prompt (5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others). So the two ideas I was considering...

1. I could write about when I moved from NJ to CA the summer before freshman year. By moving across the country to an entirely new school district with 0 friends, it forced me to be outgoing and to make a real effort to meet people. Before this point, I was not super outgoing nor did I approach people out of the blue and introduce my self. So this event (moving) sparked a period of personal growth (becoming more outgoing).

OR

2. A few months ago I went on a 3 day camping trip in the Mojave Desert with my AP Bio class. Prior to this trip, I had never been camping or done anything of that nature. It's important to note also that this wasn't "glamping", like this was real, primitive camping like no running water, tents, etc. And I was very hesitant to go on this trip since I had never gone camping and I did not really know what to expect entirely. However, upon pushing myself to attend the trip and having an AMAZING time, it made me realize the importance of trying new things. You can truly miss out on amazing opportunities if you pick the "safe" choice or the less daring prospect.

Thanks for taking your time to read these brief descriptions of the topics I would write this prompt about. I think that maybe the second one is better since it is more recent and therefore talks more about the person I am today. But anyways I would like to hear what you guys think would be a better topic.

Replies to: Which topic is better for the Common App personal statement?

  • bobo44bobo44 Registered User Posts: 157 Junior Member
    edited June 19
    The second one sounds like it could be interesting and it is more current. I would prefer reading about it and I think it would lend itself to more specifics.
  • kkendallkkendall Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    Thank you for this input, I would say I agree as well. Would love to hear more opinions as well, feel free to share.
  • MrElonMuskMrElonMusk Registered User Posts: 1,248 Senior Member
    How about a combination of both? Use the camping trip as an opener and then how your move from NJ to CA put you back at square one but the trip helped you grow
  • bjkmombjkmom Registered User Posts: 7,330 Senior Member
    The second one shows growth in the you who is applying to college. The first was you as a 13 year old. I vote for #2.
  • arspeedy2arspeedy2 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    I’m planning to write about how a family situation caused me to have to switch schools midway through my freshman year, and how I persevered through this situation and maintained a 4.0 GPA. I was also able to transfer back to my home school a year later. I figured that colleges will see that I transferred 2 times on my transcript and wonder why.. So why not explain it in my essay? Is this a good topic to write about?
  • bjkmombjkmom Registered User Posts: 7,330 Senior Member
    I would think your guidance counselor could handle that in his/her letter.

    Your essay should be about HOW you are, and not WHAT happened to you.
  • aquaptaquapt Registered User Posts: 1,472 Senior Member
    edited June 23
    I agree with the others that topic #2 is better. You can always allude to the move as a previous instance of stepping out of your comfort zone, just don't give it too much airtime. The trick with the camping trip topic is to bring it to life with colorful detail, and perhaps some humor as well.

    Also, don't feel like you have to tell the story methodically from beginning to end. It's fine to open with an attention-grabber like, say, the horrifying bug that was staring at you when you opened your eyes on your first morning in the desert, and *then* bring your reader up to speed on how you got there. :)
  • bjkmombjkmom Registered User Posts: 7,330 Senior Member
    OOPS... too late to fix the typo in #6... I meant to say "WHO you are" and not "How"
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,850 Senior Member
    # 2 essay and include interesting details about what you actually did.. great topic if done well . Did it spark any new interests? Views on our culture? How was it having no screens? How did it feel living so simply and self-reliantly? What did you observe in nature? Did your day follow the sun? The trying new things is a great angle too just thinking of all the things you must have experienced :)

    to arspeedy2, you can post your own thread..so briefly, you can deal with that in other ways, through the guidance counselor or in the supplementary essay
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 35,261 Senior Member
    @arspeedy2 Yes, hijacking another thread with your question causes confusion. But in your case, a brief note in additional info can explain. (If the school has a supplemental essay, that info probably won’t fit into the prompt at most colleges).

    For both posters, check out the essay tips posted at the top of the essay forum.
  • kkendallkkendall Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    Thank you all for the help! You are awesome!!!!
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