Personal Statement: The Sacrifice to be the Perfect Student

by Jill Patel 

‘Demonstrated interest’ in a school now ranks higher in importance than teacher or counselor recommendations.

Young adult fiction incorporating entertaining satire of high ambitions and the ruthless college application process mixed with four protagonists aiming to polish up their resumes. “Personal Statement,” by Emmy-nominated writer and award-winning playwright, Jason Odell Williams was quite honestly the ideal book for me to have read considering I will soon be taking part in the world of college applications. Sure you can have the perfect SAT score and be outstanding at sports and have a great GPA, but what truly matters is that excelling personal statement.

(Disclaimer: spoiler alert) 

This book follows four characters; three college-bound students: Emily, Rani and Robert along with one White house-bound character named A.J. Each needed that extra kick in their essays and resumes, and prayed for another Hurricane Sandy. And just like that, an epic opportunity, Hurricane Calliope, was on its way and each of the characters channeled the disaster into a volunteering opportunity that they believed would be quite promising for their future.

They decided to place themselves physically in the eye of the storm for a more selfish purpose than just to simply volunteer. It is what they’ve been waiting for, the chance to stand out from the crowd with a killer statement depicting their unique lives. The only issue was, they weren’t the only ones with the same plan.

This is a delightful read and accurately captures the lives of striving students and future leaders. From the continuous pressure by parents, struggling to live up to impossible expectations, striving for academic excellence, battling to be their own person, our four protagonists being to realize their true potential and what they really want out of life all while competing against each other and the hurricane.

Whether you are able to relate to William’s privileged and wealthy characters or not, most high school students will be familiar with the attempt to be the perfect student and to make your parents proud. That’s a key component of why this book is noteworthy. You can relate to it and maybe even gain a new perspective as a young high-school student or you can read it after you have first-hand experienced the competitive nature of college applications.

Mainly, “Personal Statement” is so unique because of its ability to ridicule our system of college applications and admission and show how absurd the pressure from parents is and how unyielding students become while also reaching out to students as they live through this nightmare to open new perspectives. By having unattainable goals, students begin to undermine themselves and trade their happiness for perfection and over-achieving. That is not recipe for a bright and prosperous future.

I recommend this book to everyone and whether or not the readers of Brown Girl Magazine are drawn to the South Asian based character of Rani, they can relate to what she faces in her life. This book will surely have you laughing throughout  as the illogical values instilled in student’s minds are unraveled through a series of wild events in the lives of four very different people.

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