Despite the beautiful weather this past weekend, 145 high school seniors spent hours indoors with 826 Valencia working on their essays for college applications at the third annual Great San Francisco Personal Statement Weekend. During the two-day event, which 826 hosted at Mission High School, 130 tutors were on hand to provide students with one-on-one support as they completed their personal statements.
Some students arrived with just an inkling of what they wanted to write about, and others had nearly completed essays. Some students spent an hour or two checking over final details, while others spent as many as ten hours with a tutor over the course of the weekend. One high school senior, who said he is applying to film schools in California and New York, arrived with just an idea. By the end of the first day, however, he reported that he had written and revised a completely new draft of his common application essay. Another student revised an essay about her struggles to break the trend of teen motherhood in her family. “My grandmother just died this year,” she said, “and I want to go to college so I can make her proud.”
When they needed a break from the quiet intensity of the computer labs at Mission High School, tutors and students could grab a snack, generously donated by the Haight Street Whole Foods Market, and talk about possible majors or colleges. And while many students stayed long hours, it was the tireless energy of the volunteer tutors, some of whom tutored three or four students in one day, who made it possible for everyone to leave with all the help they needed and wanted.
The 145 students who participated in Personal Statement Weekend came from ten different high schools, and we’d like to thank the teachers and counselors who recommended that they attend. Upon leaving the event, one student said, “I received some excellent ideas on how to write my personal statement so my reader will have a lasting impression of me.” The students who attended Personal Statement Weekend made a lasting impression on all of us at 826, and we wish them the best of luck with the rest of the admissions process!