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The Power of Values: Three Reasons to Use a Values Worksheet for Your College Admissions Essay

By Dr. Kendall Young

Crafting a compelling college admissions essay can feel like navigating a labyrinth. However, one tool can make this journey more straightforward: a values worksheet. Here’s why using this tool can transform your essay from generic to genuinely impactful

1. Discover Your Core Values

Your college essay is your chance to paint a vivid portrait of who you are. Start by delving into your core values—the guiding principles that define your character. Whether it’s your relentless curiosity, unwavering resilience, or passion for social justice, these values are the essence of your identity. Reflect on unique opportunities where you embodied these values in action. Perhaps it was devising a marketing plan for a local store, leveraging data to boost sales and community engagement. Or, maybe it was taking on the role of a youth advocate on a hospital advisory committee, spearheading initiatives to address unmet health needs among young people. These experiences reveal your values in dynamic ways, offering insights into your character and aspirations. Embrace the opportunity to share these authentic stories in your essay—it’s these compelling narratives that will captivate admissions officers and set you apart from the crowd.

2. Stand Out from the Crowd

One of the most common pitfalls in college essays is relying on clichés and generic statements that fail to distinguish you from other applicants. To truly stand out, delve into your experiences and share specific, personal stories that showcase your individuality. A values worksheet can guide you in pinpointing what truly matters to you, empowering you to illustrate your points with vivid anecdotes that highlight your distinct perspectives and accomplishments.

For instance, rather than simply expressing an interest in engineering, share how you spearheaded a project to enhance payload capacity in rocket designs. As the chief engineer for a rocket program, you led efforts to modify the payload configuration, optimizing weight distribution to achieve greater altitude and efficiency. This hands-on experience not only demonstrates your technical prowess but also showcases your innovative problem-solving skills and leadership abilities.

Similarly, separate yourself from the crowd by sharing how you’ve overcome challenges such as ADHD symptoms in the classroom. Instead of a generic narrative, recount how you devised a personalized notes system tailored to your learning style, ensuring better comprehension and retention of course material. Alternatively, discuss how you implemented a task completion strategy, meticulously organizing assignments to maintain balance and prevent overwhelm. By crafting unique solutions to navigate academic challenges, you showcase your adaptability, resilience, and proactive approach to self-improvement.

By weaving these specific, personal stories into your essay, you offer admissions officers a genuine glimpse into your character, achievements, and potential contributions to their academic community. Embrace the opportunity to share your authentic experiences and let your voice shine through in your college application.

3. Create a Cohesive Narrative with Unique Stories

Title: Crafting Your College Application: Weaving Your Story with Purpose

When it comes to your college essay, think of it as more than just a bunch of stories—it’s your chance to thread together a narrative that connects your past experiences with your future dreams. Start by getting clear on what matters most to you. These values will be the threads that run through your entire application, tying everything together. But here’s the thing: don’t just pick any old story. Go for those unique moments that are uniquely yours. These anecdotes, nobody else can claim, paint a vivid picture of who you are and what you stand for. When you blend these personal tales with your values, you’re not just telling a story; you’re crafting a compelling journey that shows admissions officers you’ve got purpose and direction. And yes, don’t stop there. Let this theme seep into every part of your application—from your essays to your extracurriculars. Consistency is key, showing colleges the real, authentic you. So, get ready to weave your story with purpose and make your application shine!

In Summation:

Using a values worksheet before you begin your college admissions essay can be a game-changer. It helps you uncover your core values, ensures your essay stands out with specificity, and enables you to craft a cohesive and compelling narrative enriched with unique, personal stories. So, take the time to delve deep into your values—you’ll find that your essay not only becomes easier to write but also significantly more impactful.

For more tips on crafting the perfect college essay, check out resources from experts like The Essay Guy, Crimson Education, and Empower Hourly. Your future self will thank you.