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How Storytelling is the Key to Successful Admissions Essays

by Jocelyn Johnson, on Jul 21, 2021 2:02:28 PM

When you tell a story, it ignites a process called mental mirroring, and three things happen all at once in your brain: 

  1. Your story sparks the reader’s memories.
  2. Those memories activate their emotions, allowing the listener to experience the moment with you.
  3. Those emotional connections make them want to do something with you or on your behalf.

That's why essays based on stories of growth and change are the most powerful: they connect you with the reader emotionally and make them want to do something on your behalf. 

The good news? It's much easier to tell a story from your remembered experience than to write a critical paper for English class! You're telling stories to your friends all the time, right? So follow the steps in StoryBuilder and you're on your way to an action-packed, emotionally moving college essay.  

Remember: mental mirroring only happens when you put the reader in the moment and allow them to experience it from your perspective through specific details, dialogue, and description. When you use interpretations, generalizations, cliches, or summaries, the process of mental mirroring breaks down. 

So to write a powerful essay, stick to the key elements of storytelling: action verbs and specific details from the world of remembered experience.   

Go to College Admission Essays Made Easy.

For more info about college admission and scholarship essays and interviews, sign up for self-paced courses and our award-winning StoryBuilder writing platform FREE. Want to stay up to date on the latest tips and resources? Follow us @story2 on Instagram!

Jocelyn Johnson is a graduate of Princeton (BA) and Harvard (MEd), Jocelyn worked previously as a counselor at Prep for Prep, Breakthrough NY, and Democracy Prep. A former coach and marketing coordinator for Story2, Jocelyn researched, wrote, and created the voice and tone for many of our most successful blogs.

Topics:college admissionsstorytellingmoments methodcollege essays