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The personal statement might just be the hardest part of your college application.Mostly this is because it has the least guidance and is the most open-ended.
So, for example, for my paper in my James Joyce’s class, I analyzed quotations from the “Circe” chapter to argue that Joyce was subversively promoting orientalist ideas.
Each paragraph focused on a sentence where words and images had secondary meanings linked with orientalist theory.
To support my argument, I’d include paragraphs from my primary texts.
Instead of analyzing the texts myself, I’d quote the analyses of the secondary sources.
So while I agreed with Said’s theory, I also addressed scholars who countered his argument.
Likewise, I disagreed with Bannon’s thesis that Joyce was justified in his use of the orientalist aesthetic and laid out my reasons.
Office hours are an underrated resource: most professors sit and wait in their office during these hours, so why not fill that time with discourse on the latest book you’ve been reading or possible essay topics?
At the least, you get a stimulating intellectual conversation, and at the most, you’ll be able to easily ask that professor for a recommendation letter when the time comes.
At the end, I’d gather my citations in a works-cited list, staple the paper together, and turn it in.
In college, my well-oiled routine changed; my papers now consist largely of my own ideas and analysis.