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The College Essay Guy's Complete Guide, Lesson 2: How to Outline the Personal Statement in One Hour

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Ethan Sawyer

on 10 July 2016

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Transcript of The College Essay Guy's Complete Guide, Lesson 2: How to Outline the Personal Statement in One Hour

Remember: you are unique.
Just like everyone else.
- Tom Robbins
2. How to Outline the Personal
Statement in One Hour

Ethan Sawyer, College Essay Guy
Step 1: Decide on the Big Chunks
Types A & C: Narrative Structure
Types B & D: Montage Structure
Example A “On Debate” (Narrative Structure):
Status Quo
: I used to be really shy.
Inciting Incident
: Then I joined a debate class.
Raising of the Stakes
: It was important that I break free of my shyness not just for me but for my parents.
Moment of Truth
: None. (Note: don't need it.)
New Status Quo
: Now I'm the kid up at the white board, the kid standing up for her beliefs.

Essay B “Endodontics” (Montage Structure):
I’ve always been curious.
I’ve been working with my hands for years.
I’ve always been obsessed with details.
I’m a math geek.
I love sharing my knowledge with others.
All these qualities will serve me well in my career as--not an engineer, but--an endodontist (dentist).

Essay C “Raising Anthony” (Narrative or “Challenges” Structure):
The three-step "Challenges" variation:
Challenges (What I went through):
Separated from mom at three, absent and alcoholic father, terrible babysitters, no structure at home, misbehaving brother.
What I did about it:
I assumed the role of parent by taking my brother to school, learning to cook, watching parenting videos, having brother formulate his own penalties.
What I learned:
I’m grateful for my experiences, as I became resourceful, independent and confident and now I believe I can face any challenge.

Essay D “Scrapbook” (Montage Structure):
Here’s the physical process of creating a scrapbook.
This (essay) is the scrapbook of my life. (Thesis, focusing lens.)
Family is really important to me (here are images, details to prove it).
Mission work, travel, and teaching are also important to me (more images and details to show).
No matter what I do, these values will remain important in my life.
1. Marlon and Nemo are together.
2. Marlon and Nemo get separated.
3. Marlon and Nemo reunite.

Tip: Keep it simple.
How do you choose the big chunks?
For Type A and C students (Narrative Structure)...
Create a Timeline.
1. Blank sheet of paper.
2. Chart the major events.
3. Tell your story to a partner.
Create a Timeline: Variation
Type A:
Status Quo
: How did things used to be?
Inciting Incident
: What event started it all?
Raising of the stakes
: What built suspense for you--and others?
Moment of truth (or) Turning point
: Big choice? Possible dark path, then turned around?
New status quo
: How did things turn out? How are they now?

How do you turn this into an outline?
Type C:
1. Challenges
2. What I did about it
3. What I learned

*To watch a video breaking this down, Google: "How to Write Your College Essay If You've Experienced Significant Challenges."
For Type B and D Students (Montage Structure)...
1. The “21 Details” Exercise

My examples:

1. We moved 20 times while I was growing up and I attended 13 schools.

2. The most painful thing I ever experienced was breaking my kneecap in the 10th grade during a basketball game. The physical pain wasn’t the worst part, though: it was losing the rest of the season and watching my team go 0-18.

3. My three younger brothers and I have never, as far as I can remember, ever had a fight.

2. “Stuff You Should Know About Me” List
3. Values List

Attention: Type B students (those who know their career/major)
Be sure to write first letter beside relevant values.
(Example: For "Doctor," you might write "D" next to "helping others"or "creativity," etc.)
In a few minutes I'll explain:

"How to Outline Any Essay in Just a Few Minutes"
AKA: "How to Write Your Essay in One Night (Break in Case of Emergency)"

Also found at: www.collegeessayguy.com/type-b-essay-and-analysis

But first...
Type D Students...
Any potential careers? A placeholder?
Do What You Are

If still no career, then...
1. 21 Details Exercise
2. "Stuff You Should Know About Me" List
3. Values List

Then begin to search for themes and connections by asking...
Are there...
Any connections between "21 Details" or "Stuff You Should Know About Me" List and
...my Top Values?
Any common themes or repetition?
Any stories I've ever heard before (out in the world) that sound or feel like my story?

What we're searching for here...
This takes time. Be patient.
Step 2: What to Do After You Create Your Basic Outline

Option A: Be the Gardener

1. Find a seed.
2. Water it. (Begin writing.)

Option B: Be the Architect

Create Outline 2.0


Example of Naming the DVD Chapters
"Endodontics" (Type B) essay

*See PDF or Google "College Essay Guy Type B Essay"
Outline 1.0...
1. Curiosity
2. Detail-focused
3. Working with hands
4. Working with others
5. What I want to study and why
Outline 2.0...
Step 1: Label the DVD Chapters
Step 2: Turn Your DVD Chapter Titles into Thesis Sentences
Tip: one sentence per paragraph
Outline 2.0
1. As a kid, I was always curious.
(Transition: And it didn’t stop in second grade.)
2. A few years later I designed my first pair of shoes.
3. In high school I moved on to more advanced projects.
4. And once I obtained my driver’s license, I began working on cars.
5. My love of details applies to my schoolwork too.
6. I also love sharing this appreciation with others.
7. I want to study Endodontics.
8. Which is actually kinda’ like working on phones and cars.
Outline 1.0
1. Curiosity
2. Detail-focused
3. Working with hands
4. Working with others
5. What I want to study and why
Another Option for Creating Outline 2.0:

The Focused Objects Exercise (or) Dreaming the Essay

1. Curiosity
2. Detail-focused
3. Working with hands
4. Working with others
5. What I want to study and why
Why You Should Throw Out Everything You Think You Know
(A Note to Counselors*)
The Focused Objects Exercise (or) How to Dream the Essay
HW (before next lesson):
1. Create Outline 1.0.
2. (Optional) Create Outline 2.0.
3. Write your first "terrible" draft.
4. Upload your first draft, plus your outline, to Google docs and share it with your partner.
5. (Optional) Meet with your partner to brainstorm & develop your outline.
6. (Optional) Watch Session 3, which I will email you a link to, called...
Q & A
3. How to Give and Receive Feedback &
Next lesson:
Once these are done...
Type B Students...
A framing device
(aka: a focusing lens)
Something that will allow you to talk about a lot of different things.
Narrative structure: goes "deep"
Montage structure: goes "wide"
A framing device helps you go "wide"

How do I find a framing device?
I love scrapbooking, so essay might be
The Scrapbook of My Life
I love applied math, so essay might be
How I See the World Through Applied Math
I love traveling and language so essay might be about
How Traveling and Language Have Shaped My Life
1. Have we found our framing device* or theme(s) yet?
2. Do we need more content? More ideas?
*framing device: the thing that holds the essay together
Example (using Outline 1.0):
The Gardener and The Architect
Name the DVD Chapters
“To get good ideas, you need lots of ideas.”
- Linus Pauling
What do I love?
What do I know?
Example: Cupcakes!
How to Outline Any Essay in Just a Few Minutes
(aka: How to Write Your Essay Backwards)
Google: "College Essay Guy Type B Essay"
PART ONE: Essential Qualities

Write your career at the top of a blank sheet.
In the right column, make a list of qualities necessary to excel in your field.

Example: Business
ability to work well with others

Tip: Include 1-2

from the Values List
PART TWO: How I’ve Demonstrated These Qualities in My Life

For each quality, describe a specific example
from your life that SHOWS you've developed this quality.

“ability to work well with others” = organizing Dance Marathon
“good listener” = volunteering at the hospital
Write one paragraph for each quality/value.

Bonus Tip:

How to Create a Surprise Ending
Don’t explicitly state the qualities/values until the last or second to last paragraph.
Tip: Put them in chronological order.
*Applies to anyone helping someone write a personal statement.
Tips for Listener during Timeline exercise:

Use student's exact words.
Listen for repetition.
(Note potential themes in parentheses.)
Listen for clues about how much events mean
to student

Listen for what's not being said.
Accurate empathy.
Verbal: "That was a peak time for me."
Non-verbal: Pauses. Vocal shifts. From "head" voice to "heart" voice.
The Complete Guide to the Personal Statement
"Everything I Want College to Know About Me" List
Happy writing!
How to Refine Your Outline Before Your Second Draft
4. Find X.
2 cm
2 cm
Here it is.
Photo: Hot Imagery
CC BY2.0
Story Title
Niranjan CC BY 2.0
Photo: Hot Imagery
CC BY2.0
Pink Sherbet Photography
CC BY 2.0
Forgemind ArchiMedia CC BY 2.0
Kamikazow PD
Name the DVD Chapters
Kamikazow PD
2. A New Hope
Chris Walsh CC BY 2.0
5. Vader Confronts
the Princess
8. The Search
3. Imperial Boarding Party
FiDalwood CC By 2.0
6. Lost in the Desert
Gordon Tarpley CC BY 2.0
9. Droids for Sale
Véronique Debord-Lazaro CC BY-SA 2.0
4. Artoo's Mission
Brian CC BY 2.0
7. Land of the Jawas
Gordon Tarpley
CC BY 2.0
10. The Garage
Full transcript