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The Art Of Writing The Personal Statement In 15 Minutes At A Time

Posted By Jay Douglas On October 17, 2012 @ 11:15 am In Articles | No Comments

For high-achieving high school students, the competition to get into a good college starts early.

Extra-curricular activities matter, as of course do grades and test scores. Parents and teachers coach students through these steps each year. But the high school experience is rarely designed to help students with what is often the most important step of all: writing the personal statement.

“The personal statement is the only item that tells your side of the story, in your own words,” says college professor and author Jay Douglas.

“Grades, letters of recommendations, and test scores are your story told in numbers, or by other people. Writing a strong personal statement can help a mediocre student earn an acceptance letter or even open doors to an Ivy League school.”

Douglas, in his new book Make Them Want You: How to Write a Standout Personal Statement 15 Minutes at a Time, walks students and their parents through the personal essay writing process. He uses movies as a metaphor for writing and compares writing to the steps of conceiving, writing, filming, and editing a movie.

As a college professor who has worked with high school students across the United States, Douglas translates the writing process into terms students can appreciate and breaks it down into student-friendly 15 minute increments. Readers can expect:

• 15 minute writing exercises for brainstorming a topic the writer feels passionate about – even for students who feel they “have nothing to write about”

• Ideas for using a storyboard method to outline the topic – scene by scene – to find the most compelling way to tell the story

• Editing techniques that help strengthen the story and play to the audience’s interests

• Proven methods for increasing the story’s impact to help you hold the reader’s attention

• Advice for parents, who want to help their student write the best possible essay, a role Douglas compares to that of a movie’s producer

Drawing examples from storytelling and well-known films, this step-by-step book helps students become one step closer to a well-written personal statement which will ultimately set them apart from the thousands of other applicants fighting for a place in college.

About the Author 
Jay Douglas, Ph.D. has an eclectic background that stretches from science to storytelling. An adjunct professor of screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Jay has been teaching college-level courses in film, television, digital media, website design, communications, advertising, and physics since 1995. Within the academic community, Douglas has written about the changing nature of storytelling, including a Ph.D. dissertation on how computers, video games, and artificial intelligence are affecting the way we tell stories. In addition to teaching, Jay is a playwright, author and humorist. He is the author of two books published by Alpha Books including Everything You Need to Write Great Essays You Can Learn from Watching Movies and Stalking the Story. He is also the co-author of Allyn & Bacon's Quick Guide to the Internet series, a collection of a dozen titles that teach college students in multiple disciplines how to use the Internet for academic research. The material for his newest book Make Them Want You: How to Write a Standout Personal Statement 15 Minutes at a Time was drawn from his 25+ years of experience conducting essay-writing workshops for high school students from New York to Hawaii, plus the thousands of hours he’s devoted to teaching college students how to write screenplays and academic papers. He holds B.S. and M.S. Degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, as well as an M.F.A. in screenwriting and a Ph.D. in film and television critical studies.

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