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美国大学申请主文写作“三步法”

 

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美国本科申请主文,也就是常说的个人陈述,一般可以分解为3个简单的写作步骤。如果每个步骤都能确保信息充足有效,那么这篇文书就能够帮助申请者脱颖而出。

写作目标

- 开头引人入胜(抓住读者)

- 展露个人特质

- “以我为主”

- 考虑读者感受

- 呈现勇气和决心

- 表达智识活力(价值观、学习能力、思考方式)

- 立意高度集中

- 令人印象深刻

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步骤分解

第一步:分享一个关于自己的人生故事

首先找出自己的一项特有品质性格或者核心价值观想想你的父母怎么跟陌生人介绍你“小明这孩子挺有想法,目标也高,知道关心别人,可就是脾气很倔”。

然后,跟亲友一起讨论,在过去两三年里,是否有某件事情或者某个片段,可以阐明上述品质、性格或者价值观。

件事情或者个片段,不必是惊天动地的大事,但一定事关上述品质、性格或者价值观的形成、改变或者接受考验。它最好不是一帆风顺的而是涉及某类问题、障碍、挑战冲突或者麻烦。

把那个有趣的片段构思成小故事也就是说通过文学的语言再度创作出真实生活中的小故事,还要包括你由此产生的感受、提供故事背景和语境。

贴士:聚焦一项特质或者核心价值观不要罗列成就活动或者泛泛而谈

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第二步:解释你从中获取的习得

解释你是如何一步步地对待处理和解决上述问题

反思什么激发或者激励你去处理那个问题

解释你在处理问题的过程中有什么习得

贴士:重在呈现价值观,学习和思考能力,以及个人成长。

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第三步:探讨你的习得为什么很重要

如果这条经验后来运用到人生的其它案例中那么把这些案例也简要地编织到你的文书里

预测在未来的工作和生活中将如何运用这条经验。

贴士通过简述运用这条终生经验的其它案例和愿景呈现你的自省思维和前瞻思维

总之,你要做的就是,以小故事的形式重述问题的出现和背景,然后描述处理问题的过程以及从中习得的经验,最后讨论这条经验的意义。三步写作法虽然感觉可能像是“套路”,却在实践中行之有效,而且容易上手。

范文

String Theory—Joanna

If string theory is really true, then the entire world is made up of strings, and I cannot tie a single one. This past summer, I applied for my very first job at a small, busy bakery and café in my neighborhood. I knew that if I were hired there, I would learn how to use a cash register, prepare sandwiches, and take cake orders. I imagined that my biggest struggle would be catering to demanding New Yorkers, but I never thought that it would be the benign act of tying a box that would become both my biggest obstacle and greatest teacher.

 

On my first day of work in late August, one of the bakery’s employees hastily explained the procedure. It seemed simple: wrap the string around your hand, then wrap it three times around the box both ways, and knot it. I recited the anthem in my head, “three times, turn it, three times, knot” until it became my mantra. After observing multiple employees, it was clear that anyone tying the box could complete it in a matter of seconds. For weeks, I labored endlessly, only to watch the strong and small pieces of my pride unravel each time I tried.

As I rushed to discreetly shove half-tied cake boxes into plastic bags, I could not help but wonder what was wrong with me. I have learned Mozart arias, memorized the functional groups in organic chemistry, and calculated the anti-derivatives of functions that I will probably never use in real life—all with a modest amount of energy. For some reason though, after a month’s effort, tying string around a cake box still left me in a quandary.

 

As the weeks progressed, my skills slowly began to improve. Of course there were days when I just wanted to throw all of the string in the trash and use Scotch tape; this sense of defeat was neither welcome nor wanted, but remarks like “Oh, you must be new from snarky customers catapulted my determination to greater heights.

 

It should be more difficult to develop an internal pulse and sense of legato in a piece of music than it is to find the necessary rhythm required to tie a box, but this seemingly trivial task has clearly proven not to be trivial at all. The difficulties that I encountered trying to keep a single knot intact are proof of this. The lack of cooperation between my coordination and my understanding left me frazzled, but the satisfaction I felt when I successfully tied my first box was almost as great as any I had felt before.

 

Scientists developing string theory say that string can exist in a straight line, but it can also bend, oscillate, or break apart. I am thankful that the string I work with is not quite as temperamental, but I still cringe when someone asks for a chocolate mandel bread. Supposedly, the string suggested in string theory is responsible for unifying general relativity with quantum physics. The only thing I am responsible for when I use string is delivering someone’s pie to them without the box falling apart. Tying a cake box may not be quantum physics, but it is just as crucial to holding together what matters.

 

I am beginning to realize that I should not be ashamed if it takes me longer to learn. I persist, and I continue to tie boxes every weekend at work. Even though I occasionally backslide into feelings of exasperation, I always rewrap the string around my hand and start over because I have learned that the most gratifying victories come from tenacity. If the universe really is comprised of strings, I am confident that I will be able to tie them together, even if I do have to keep my fingers crossed that my knots hold up.

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评语

“Joanna does a great job of grabbing your attention from the first sentence by comparing her struggles learning to tie up bakery boxes to string theory. We get a glimpse at her personality throughout the essay—she is not afraid to laugh at herself or admit failure. She uses her story to illustrate that she recognized a weakness, refused to give up, and is able to grow from it; which gives us a sense of how she will tackle challenges here at JHU. Her voice definitely came through in this essay. She also used the space effectively to tell us a lot about who she is—her love of music and science, her dedication to a part-time job, and her ability to put things in perspective. Even though the actual topic itself—learning to tie string around bakery orders—seems narrow in scope, it allowed us to see how well-rounded her interests were and really get to know her through her writing.”

Johns Hopkins Undergraduate Admissions Committee

本文中的参考范文和点评摘自美国约翰霍普金斯大学官方网站。

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