Influential Person Essay For College

The Personal Statement About "A Person Who Influenced You"

"Describe a person who has influenced you" is the opening phrase of several personal statement prompts that go on to ask that you provide details of what that influence was. The major mistake made in these personal statement essays is that candidates make the essay about the individual and that individual's achievements and character, which is all fine, but not if it is at the expense of detailing how that person has influenced you. The other mistake candidates make in response to this prompt is that they answer with the intuitive "first response," which is usually a parent. And there is nothing wrong with offering a parent as the influential person - but only if in so doing, you can show that it was your parent who provided you with the abilities and interests that set you apart and can contribute to the target program.

As is the case with most personal statement essays, the success of your essay is determined before you begin writing - by what you decide to offer as content. In this essay there are many approaches to use - parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, friends, political leaders, celebrities - all of these categories can be tapped when it comes to the choice of who it was that influenced you.

The Trap to Avoid in Your Personal Statement Essays About "A Person Who Influenced You"

The trap to avoid is the trap of selecting a person without thinking through what you can offer as the influence. What is the strongest aspect of your candidacy? Your creativity? Your communication skills? Your technical background? Your professional background? The answer to this question - "What is the strongest aspect of your candidacy?" - is what should determine your subject matter for personal statement essays about a person who influenced you.

If your strength, say, is your background in a particular field, in your personal statement about a person who influenced you, identify the person who steered you in the direction of that field.

By doing this, you will use your personal statement essays not only as a means to describe someone with positive traits you would like to emulate, but someone whose influence in your life was critical in letting you develop those skills that most set you apart as a candidate.

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In an effort for colleges to better understand you as a person beyond grades and test scores, they may invite students to write about important influences in their lives. Below is a student's response when asked to describe a person who influenced him in a meaningful way.

Sometimes you find your inspiration where you least expect it. I found mine in Mr. Glick, my high school’s long-time vocal teacher. Given my love of math and science, I certainly did not walk into his class in seventh grade expecting anything more than a few hours a week listening to and learning about music. Instead, I found a new passion, singing, and a teacher who, through the zeal and energy he brought to each moment in class, served as a standard against which I could measure my own efforts.

My growing love for singing has led me to audition and become a part of Mr. Glick’s most selective choir group, the A Cappella singers. Singing without the aid of any instruments, turning our combined voices into the instruments themselves, is difficult work. It requires trust, teamwork, and the willingness to take risks, because any one person out of tune will ruin the sound. When everyone works together, though, the sound that is produced is simply amazing.

Through his boundless enthusiasm for music and tireless zest for teaching, Mr. Glick has been an indirect inspiration to me since seventh grade. As my vocal teacher and my advisor (a title similar to that of homeroom teacher), he has also directly encouraged me to seek out the camaraderie, solidarity, and shared passion I experience in choir through other activities. Sports turned out to be a natural outlet for me, and I was amazed to find the same sense of intuitive and collaborative bond with my school football and basketball teams as I did in choir.

The pleasure of being part of a community defines much of my time spent in high school. This feeling of connectedness to others, of having learned from and supported others in our common path toward a shared goal, is largely the result of finding myself in Mr. Glick’s music class five years ago. Now, as a senior in the A Capella choir who is also on the varsity football and basketball teams, I am fortunate to be part of such a wonderful high school family that I helped create.

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