Example Personal Statement: “Porcelain God”

The following is a real college application essay written for the “topic of your choice” prompt on the 2012 Common App. We are using it with the writer’s permission.


Bowing down to the porcelain god, I emptied the contents of my stomach. Foaming at the mouth, I was ready to pass out. My body couldn’t stop shaking as I gasped for air, and the room started spinning.

Ten minutes prior, I had been eating dinner with my family at a Chinese restaurant, drinking chicken-feet soup. My mom had specifically asked the waitress if there were peanuts in it, because when I was two we found out that I am deathly allergic to them. When the waitress replied no, I went for it. Suddenly I started scratching my neck, feeling the hives that had started to form. I rushed to the restroom to throw up because my throat was itchy and I felt a weight on my chest. I was experiencing anaphylactic shock, which prevented me from taking anything but shallow breaths. I was fighting the one thing that is meant to protect me and keep me alive – my own body.

At five years old, I couldn’t comprehend what had happened. All I knew was that I felt sick, and I was waiting for my mom to give me something to make it better. I thought my parents were superheroes; surely they would be able to make well again. But I became scared when I heard the fear in their voices as they rushed me to the ER.

After that incident, I began to fear. I became scared of death, eating, and even my own body. As I grew older, I became paranoid about checking food labels and I avoided eating if I didn’t know what was in the food. I knew what could happen if I ate one wrong thing, and I wasn’t willing to risk it for a snack. Ultimately, that fear turned into resentment; I resented my body for making me an outsider.

In the years that followed, this experience and my regular visits to my allergy specialist inspired me to become an allergy specialist. Even though I was probably only ten at the time, I wanted to find a way to help kids like me. I wanted to find a solution so that nobody would have to feel the way I did; nobody deserved to feel that pain, fear, and resentment. As I learned more about the medical world, I became more fascinated with the body’s immune responses, specifically, how a body reacts to allergens. This past summer, I took a month-long course on human immunology at Stanford University. I learned about the different mechanisms and cells that our bodies use in order to fight off pathogens. My desire to major in biology in college has been stimulated by my fascination with the human body, its processes, and the desire to find a way to help people with allergies. I hope that one day I can find a way to stop allergic reactions or at least lessen the symptoms, so that children and adults don’t have to feel the same fear and bitterness that I felt.

via collegeessayguy

Word of the Day: Flippant


via theyuniversity


"If you are wondering whether Harvard is for someone like you, know that regardless of what that means, you can find a community at Harvard. You will have more things in common with people than you ever expect, so don’t allow that to hold you back from typing that first word on the blank document. And even better, you will learn to redefine what someone like you means throughout your four years here." - Alice, first generation student from Philadelphia, shares her thoughts on fitting in at Harvard.


"If you are wondering whether Harvard is for someone like you, know that regardless of what that means, you can find a community at Harvard. You will have more things in common with people than you ever expect, so don’t allow that to hold you back from typing that first word on the blank document. And even better, you will learn to redefine what someone like you means throughout your four years here." - Alice, first generation student from Philadelphia, shares her thoughts on fitting in at Harvard.

(Source: collegesmarts)

Personal Statement Example: The “Five Families” Essay

The following is a real college application essay. We are using it with the writer’s (and College Essay Guy’s) permission.


When I was 16, I lived with the Watkins family in Wichita, Kansas. Mrs. Watkins was the coordinator of the foreign exchange student program I was enrolled in. She had a nine year old son named Cody. I would babysit Cody every day after school for at least two to three hours. We would play Scrabble or he would read to me from Charlotte’s Web or The Ugly Duckling. He would talk a lot about his friends and school life, and I would listen to him and ask him the meanings of certain words. He was my first friend in the New World.

My second family was the Martinez family, who were friends of the Watkins’s. The host dad Michael was a high school English teacher and the host mom Jennifer (who had me call her “Jen”) taught elementary school. She had recently delivered a baby, so she was still in the hospital when I moved into their house. The Martinez family did almost everything together. We made pizza together, watched Shrek on their cozy couch together, and went fishing on Sunday together. On rainy days, Michael, Jen and I would sit on the porch and listen to the rain, talking about our dreams and thoughts. Within two months I was calling them mom and dad.

After I finished the exchange student program, I had the option of returning to Korea but I decided to stay in America. I wanted to see new places and meet different people. Since I wasn’t an exchange student anymore, I had the freedom—and burden—of finding a new school and host family on my own. After a few days of thorough investigation, I found the Struiksma family in California. They were a unique group.

The host mom Shellie was a single mom who had two of her own sons and two Russian daughters that she had adopted. The kids always had something warm to eat, and were always on their best behavior at home and in school. It would be fair to say that this was all due to Shellie’s upbringing. My room was on the first floor, right in front of Shellie’s hair salon, a small business that she ran out of her home. In the living room were six or seven huge amplifiers and a gigantic chandelier hung from the high ceiling. The kitchen had a bar. At first, the non-stop visits from strangers made me nervous, but soon I got used to them. I remember one night, a couple barged into my room while I was sleeping. It was awkward.

After a few months I realized we weren’t the best fit. In the nicest way possible, I told them I had to leave. They understood.

The Ortiz family was my fourth family. Kimberly, the host mom, treated me the same way she treated her own son. She made me do chores: I fixed dinner, fed their two dogs Sassy and Lady, and once a week I cleaned the bathroom. I also had to follow some rules: No food in my room, no using the family computer, no lights on after midnight, and no ride unless it was an emergency. The first couple of months were really hard to get used to, but eventually I adjusted.

I lived with the Ortiz family for seven months like a monk in the deep forest. However, the host dad Greg’s asthma got worse after winter, so he wanted to move to the countryside. It was unexpected and I only had a week to find a new host family. I asked my friend Danielle if I could live with her until I found a new home. That’s how I met the Dirksen family, my fifth family.

The Dirksen family had three kids. They were all different. Danielle liked bitter black coffee, Christian liked energy drinks, and Becca liked sweet lemon tea. Dawn, the host mom didn’t like winter, and Mark, the host dad, didn’t like summer. After dinner, we would all play Wii Sports together. I was the king of bowling, and Dawn was the queen of tennis. I don’t remember a single time that they argued about the games. Afterward, we would gather in the living room and Danielle would play the piano while the rest of us sang hymns.

Of course, those 28 months were too short to fully understand all five families, but I learned from and was shaped by each of them. By teaching me English, nine year-old Cody taught me the importance of being able to learn from anyone; the Martinez family showed me the value of spending time together as a family; the Struiksma family taught me to reserve judgment about divorced women and adopted children; Mrs. Ortiz taught me the value of discipline and the Dirksen family taught me the importance of appreciating one another’s different qualities.

Getting along with other people is necessary for anyone and living with five families has made me more sensitive to others’ needs: I have learned how to recognize when someone needs to talk, when I should give advice and when to simply listen, and when someone needs to be left alone; in the process, I have become much more adaptable. I’m ready to change, learn, and be shaped by my future families.

via College Essay Guy

What’s up with “compliment” and “complement”?


Here’s the difference between compliment and complement:




imageYou won’t confuse these two words anymore, right?


via TheYUNiversity

"How to Stand Out on the Personal Statement" by College Essay Guy

SAT Grammar Question of the Day

Click HERE for the answer.

Personal Statement Example: “I Shot My Brother” Essay

The following is a real college application essay. I am using it with the writer’s permission.


From page 54 of the maroon notebook sitting on my mahogany desk:

“Then Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me.” - Genesis 4:13

Here is a secret that no one in my family knows: I shot my brother when I was six. Luckily, it was a BB gun. But to this day, my older brother Jonathan does not know who shot him. And I have finally promised myself to confess this eleven year old secret to him after I write this essay.

The truth is, I was always jealous of my brother. Our grandparents, with whom we lived as children in Daegu, a rural city in South Korea, showered my brother with endless accolades: he was bright, athletic, and charismatic.

“Why can’t you be more like Jon?” my grandmother used to nag, pointing at me with a carrot stick. To me, Jon was just cocky. He would scoff at me when he would beat me in basketball, and when he brought home his painting of Bambi with the teacher’s sticker “Awesome!” on top, he would make several copies of it and showcase them on the refrigerator door. But I retreated to my desk where a pile of “Please draw this again and bring it to me tomorrow” papers lay, desperate for immediate treatment. Later, I even refused to attend the same elementary school and wouldn’t even eat meals with him.

Deep down I knew I had to get the chip off my shoulder. But I didn’t know how.

That is, until March 11th, 2001.

That day around six o’clock, juvenile combatants appeared in Kyung Mountain for their weekly battle, with cheeks smeared in mud and empty BB guns in their hands. The Korean War game was simple: to kill your opponent you had to shout “pow!” before he did. Once we situated ourselves, our captain blew the pinkie whistle and the war began. My friend Min-young and I hid behind a willow tree, eagerly awaiting our orders.

Beside us, our comrades were dying, each falling to the ground crying in “agony,” their hands clasping their “wounds.” Suddenly a wish for heroism surged within me: I grabbed Min-young’s arms and rushed towards the enemies’ headquarters, disobeying our orders to remain sentry duty. To tip the tide of the war, I had to kill their captain. We infiltrated the enemy lines, narrowly dodging each attack. We then cleared the pillars of asparagus ferns until the Captain’s lair came into view. I quickly pulled my clueless friend back into the bush.

Hearing us, the alarmed captain turned around: It was my brother.

He saw Min-young’s right arm sticking out from the bush and hurled a “grenade,” (a rock), bruising his arm.

“That’s not fair!” I roared in the loudest and most unrecognizable voice I could manage.

Startled, the Captain and his generals abandoned their post. Vengeance replaced my wish for heroism and I took off after the fleeing perpetrator. Streams of sweat ran down my face and I pursued him for several minutes until suddenly I was arrested by a small, yellow sign that read in Korean: DO NOT TRESPASS: Boar Traps Ahead. (Two summers ago, my five year old cousin, who insisted on joining the ranks, had wandered off-course during the battle; we found him at the bottom of a 20 ft deep pit with a deep gash in his forehead and shirt soaked in blood) “Hey, stop!” I shouted, heart pounding. “STOP!” My mind froze. My eyes just gazed at the fleeing object; what should I do?

I looked on as my shivering hand reached for the canister of BBs. The next second, I heard two shots followed by a cry. I opened my eyes just enough to see two village men carrying my brother away from the warning sign. I turned around, hurled my BB gun into the nearby Kyung Creek and ran home as fast as I could.

* * *

Days passed. My brother and I did not talk about the incident.

‘Maybe he knew it was me,’ I thought in fear as I tried to eavesdrop on his conversation with grandpa one day. When the door suddenly opened, I blurted, “Is anything wrong?”

“Nothing,” he said pushing past me, “Just a rough sleep.”

But in the next few weeks, something was happening inside me.

All the jealousy and anger I’d once felt had been replaced by a new feeling: guilt.

That night when my brother was gone I went to a local store and bought a piece of chocolate taffy, his favorite. I returned home and placed it on my brother’s bed with a note attached: “Love, Grandma.”

Several days later, I secretly went into his room and folded his unkempt pajamas.

Then, other things began to change. We began sharing clothes (something we had never done), started watching Pokémon episodes together, and then, on his ninth birthday, I did something with Jon that I hadn’t done in six years: I ate dinner with him. I even ate fishcakes, which he loved but I hated. And I didn’t complain.

Today, my brother is one of my closest friends. Every week I accompany him to Carlson Hospital where he receives treatment for his obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. While in the waiting room, we play a noisy game of Zenga, comment on the Lakers’ performance or listen to the radio on the registrar’s desk.

Then, the door to the doctor’s office opens.

“Jonathan Lee, please come in.”

I tap his shoulder and whisper, “Rock it, bro.”

After he leaves, I take out my notebook and begin writing where I left off.

Beside me, the receptionist’s fingers hover over the radio in search of a new station, eventually settling on one. I hear LeAnn Rimes singing “Amazing Grace.” Her voice slowly rises over the noise of the bustling room.

“’Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved…”

Smiling, I open Jon’s Jansport backpack and neatly place this essay inside and a chocolate taffy with a note attached.

Twenty minutes have passed when the door abruptly opens.

“Guess what the doctor just said?” my brother cries, unable to hide his exhilaration.

I look up and I smile too.

- via collegeessayguy

What’s up with “you and I” and “you and me”?


Every other day, we get a question about “you and I” and “you and me.”

This probably has a lot to do with the fact that both Lady Gaga and One Direction have songs called “You and I.”

Let’s look at One Direction’s “You and I”:


Let’s look at Lady Gaga’s “You and I”:


Both songs got it wrong. Here’s why:

This topic deals with subject pronouns and object pronouns.


Therefore, if “you and I” are performing the action, it should be “you and I”:

  • You and I are best friends.”
  • You and I are supposed to work together.”
  • You and I crossed the finish line at the same time.”

(TIP: Never use “you and I” at the end of a sentence.)

If “you and I” are receiving the action, it should be “you and me”:

  • "The teacher picked you and me as study partners.”
  • "My parents will give you and me a ride to school today.”
  • "John promised to take you and me to Disneyland.”

(TIP: Never use “you and me" at the beginning of a sentence.)


Whenever you hear questionable lyrics (in terms of grammar), check with us or anyone else you trust.

After all,


Sorry, Niall.


- Pure gold by TheYUNiversity

What’s Up With Early Action & Early Decision?


About Early Admission Programs

Many colleges offer early admission programs that let students apply earlier in the year than usual (usually in November or December) and get a decision from the college earlier as well (usually sometime in late December).

Early admission is beneficial for colleges because it gives them an earlier idea of what kind of students are applying. With that information, the colleges can admit and actively recruit the students they really want.

Early admission can be good for students because it allows them to express their sincere interest in a school. Colleges like it when they’re your first choice because then they don’t have to worry about you choosing another school later in the year and leaving them with an empty dorm room.

There are two types of Early Admission programs:

Early Action and Early Decision.


  • Early Action is nonbinding. This means that you can (in most cases) apply Early Action to more than one college and receive an early admission decision, but you do not have to accept an offer of admission any earlier than usual (May 1, in most cases).
  • Here’s why Early Action is helpful for students: If you don’t get into your Early Action schools, you can broaden your list of colleges to apply to via Regular Decision; if you do get in to your Early Action schools, you can narrow your choices down.
  • Really, the only potential negative aspect of applying Early Action is that the schools will have to judge you based on your grades and activities to date. If you’re working to improve your grades or beef up your list of extracurricular activities, you may want to give yourself the extra few weeks and apply Regular Decision.


  • Early Decision is binding, which means that you’re making a commitment to enroll at the college if you’re admitted. Once you are admitted after applying Early Decision, you must withdraw your other college applications or stop applying anywhere else.
  • So what happens if you decide not to go to a school you were accepted to via Early Decision? Well, you probably won’t be sued by the college or hauled there by the authorities against your will. However, the other schools you applied to may be contacted by the Early Decision school, and it’s possible that those schools will rescind their offers of admission. In short, it’s a serious matter and you should not apply Early Decision unless you’re very serious about attending a particular school.
  • Generally speaking, applying Early Decision is a good idea for the students who have researched colleges very thoroughly and have found the perfect school for them.

Will applying early help my chances for admission?

  • Applying early (especially Early Decision) can improve your chances of being accepted into a particular school since the college will know you’re a “sure thing.”
  • Don’t apply Early Decision unless you’re totally sure about making a commitment to that school. If you’re accepted Early Decision, you must enroll.
  • Each school has different policies regarding Early Action and Early Admission. Be sure to read them very carefully before submitting your application.

Give yourself a better chance of getting in.


University of Chicago in Hyde Park, 2014

(via college-campuses)