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Personal Essay Workshop: What Do Students Think?

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

There are many academically outstanding students worldwide, with most applying to their dream colleges having satisfactory grades and test scores. This creates a highly competitive environment and an additional necessity for students to differentiate themselves and make their submissions remarkable. Other than impressive extracurricular activities, the most profitable way to accomplish this is through a personal essay, a way for college admissions professors to get to know students as individuals rather than as scores on paper.

A personal essay is a short, nonfiction piece that allows the author to introduce themselves to the admissions committee. There are many ways in which students can creatively approach this piece. It is an incredibly beneficial way for students to show their personality and achievements. However, it tends to be a challenging experience, as it requires thinking outside the box and needs to be more understood.

Fortunately for the juniors (Class of 2024), GZAAT and alumni Nino Gojiashvili, organized a workshop to help the students with this process. A survey was conducted among the junior class to gather the students' thoughts about it. It turns out that their opinions on the project are highly divided! Although most students are grateful and enjoy the idea of such a workshop, as much as 44.3% are only somewhat pleased with the execution.

When asked about the new aspects they discovered about composing personal essays, some students highlighted the structure and the newfound simplicity of the writing itself. They also noted how the class helped them get acquainted with the topic, which made them more comfortable and less stressed about this anticipated event. For example, one of the juniors said: "I learned that the essay should be a lot simpler than I thought it should be which made the actual process a lot easier." Another student added that asking questions helped him narrow down the direction for the essay and learned that it could be more broad in terms of subject matter.

However, many students disagreed, expressing their added stress about the topic (as they claimed the class didn’t aid their understanding of the matter). Such students were asked what they would change to make the workshop more beneficial in the future. They think that "making those types of meetings more individual and private would be better. Furthermore, it would be better for the meeting to occur more than once.” One of the feedback adds that students would appreciate more classes “as only one or two meetings were not enough, as most of us have just learned what the personal essay is and didn’t get to the details of our own writing."

The main complaint is the workshop’s infrequent meetings (as the students were required to attend once). Although the students were offered to reach out in case of questions, they still felt it needed to be more: the personal essays are far too important for just a few meetings. However, the junior class is highly grateful for getting a chance to get familiarized with the topic, and they hope that the next time will be less stressful.

Overall, as this was the first time the class of 2024 had any attempt at writing personal essays, it’s no surprise that the task has been nothing but challenging. Hopefully, more classes will help the students and make the application process less stressful.

Visual artist: Irinka Iashvili

Edited by Nitsa Saakashvili

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