“Make Them Want You”: Writing Your Personal Statement

One thing I don’t really remember about applying for college was writing a personal statement, although I am pretty sure I had to do one for both of the applications I filled out. Something like that should stand out, not just for the admissions counselors reading the statement, but for the student who writes it, am I right?

Make Them Want You: How to Write a Standout Personal Statement 15 Minutes at a Time

“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.

When I first read about this book, I thought to myself, what a perfect way for me to write my own personal statement (all over again) and see how far I’ve come and where I want to go with the rest of my life. Admittedly, I haven’t done it yet because there’s not a deadline facing me and I haven’t taken the 15-minute chunks seriously yet. Sure, there are a number of 15-minute chunks, but these are excellent ways to keep a busy high-schooler engaged and attentive to the process. I love it for the “old” me, but the “current” me is all about do, do, do, finish, finish, finish. Hopefully I can just grab 15 minutes a day, write my own statement, and share it with you all (soon…who’s challenging me to a deadline?!?!).

Douglas includes brainstorming, storyboarding, revisions, audience, “test screening”, and publishing a polished version. It’s a well-laid out plan to write a personal statement (or honestly, any college paper!). My sophomore year, I was a writing fellow and I remember helping first-year students who didn’t have the “process” background down. Douglas’ format makes the college-paper-whiz in me swoon.

This guidebook will also appeal to teenagers as Douglas uses movies as a metaphor. Parents will  love it because it gives teenagers a focus (and tips for how parents can help–great for any parent who has struggled with homework help!). College admissions folks will love it because personal statements will start to stand out, goodbye to the mundane, hello to the unique!

If you are interested in a copy of this book,  in eBook format on Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes & Noble.com (Nook) for $9.99. 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book to review and share with you. All opinions are 100% (and need for a deadline) are 100% my own. 


  1. I have never heard of this before, having to make a personal statement. Don’t we put enough pressure on kids and make it hard enough to get into a good college? Do we really need to add things like this? It would drive me crazy having to condense myself into a statement.

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