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Personal Statement

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  123 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Getting into college has never been harder. Can't rely on a perfect SAT score or a 5 on your AP Mandarin exam anymore. And field hockey and basketball? Please. The real sport is Volunteering. Change the world—and tell Harvard all about it.

In Emmy Award nominee Jason Odell Williams’ hilarious first novel, PERSONAL STATEMENT, it’s open season on admissions—and a Category-3 h
Paperback, 217 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by In This Together Media
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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 ·  123 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ones-to-watch
I hate sitting still.

Let me clarify. I hate sitting still when I don't have to be and someting further off in my periphery is much shinier and more sparkly and much more sis-boom-bah than the sitting-still hypothetically at-hand. Which is why I don't read all that often anymore, even though I carry an undergraduate degree rather formally named--and very thoroughly, I might add--"English Language and [italics mine] Literature". (Yes. I know. I told you.) So it takes a really special story to not
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Personal Statement should be required reading for anyone who is in the process of filling out the Common App! A delightful look at what goes on inside the minds of young people who are repeatedly asked "so, what schools are you looking at?" and continuously pushed to succeed. As someone who has worked in college admissions I have met my fair share of Emily Kims and Williams does a wonderful job of bringing these characters to life. I wish 17-year-old me could have read this book. ...more
Shambhawi P.
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a really difficult book to write a review for.

Reading it I was transported a year back when I was slaving over college applications and trying to draft the perfect personal statement. What I wouldn't have given for a Hurricane Sandy then just to have something to write about.

I could relate to this story perfectly. I could understand the pressure the characters were in with their future on the line, the cutthroat competition and the need to excel above and beyond all others that drove th
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I’m really glad Personal Statement was written. College admissions and competitiveness is not a topic often discussed in fiction even though they define the lives of countless students all over the country. The book’s focus on the ambitions of young people was refreshing, especially considering how this generation is often referred to as “lazy” or lacking in drive. Personal Statement makes it clear that high school students can be incredibly creative and innovative when given the opportunity. An ...more
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education, kindle, 2013
Very funny! Williams did a great job illustrating both the hyper-competitiveness of today's elite-college-bound youth and the circumstances that make them that way. Emily made me squirm (but redeemed herself in the end); I started off liking Rani but then I was disappointed in her at the end; and Robert didn't really seem to go anywhere (and if I were the admission officer reading his personal statement, I'd have likely been put off). And yet, they were all sympathetic in their way and it was bo ...more
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: not-kids
This book is amazing! It has humor with depth, which is the very best kind. It is engaging, entertaining and witty while providing clever commentary on societal pressures to succeed and the real meaning of altruism. It pulls back the curtain on all those do-gooders you know (you know, the ones that spend 95% of their lives wearing a name tag)in the funniest way possible. It is written in the context of college applications but I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who has ever had to wr ...more
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book truly isn't just for rising Freshmen--anyone who has ever considered a college education will LOVE it. The structure is fabulous as Williams carefully unveils new characters and plot points to suck you in right away. I can also see why it's been optioned for a movie so quickly. Williams writes in such a way that the "movie" easily plays in your head the entire time. Very funny in a very smart way. Is it possible there's a new John Hughes in our world? ...more
Emily Lloyd
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Williams pokes fun at our society's current obsession with the college application process so cleverly and so accurately that you just can't put this book down. Having applied to college less than four years ago, myself, this is one of the most modern and relatable books I have ever read. Highly recommended to any student high-school or above and every parent. ...more
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: especially those that are college bound or have college bound kids
Recommended to Amy by: Advance copy for my Nook
Shelves: fiction, college
Having just gone through the college application process last year with my daughter, this book was especially relevant and funny. It was a quick read that kept me engaged and I believe would probably lighten up the very tense time of applications.
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious! I teach in a private school, and this completely resonated. Williams is a smart writer with a great sense of comedic timing. Highly recommend!
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Delightful, funny look at the cut-throat world of college admissions, from the POV of several bright and variably ambitious students. A great read!
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved personal statement. As a college student, it brought me back to the all too recent memories of the college application process. Hilarious, over-the-top, and addicting.
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Whip smart and sharply observed, Jason Odell Williams' PERSONAL STATEMENT is a hilarious take on the coming of age novel. I couldn't put it down. ...more
Andrea Happel
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love it! It grabbed me from the very beginning. The story pulls you in, and makes you think that this actually happens. I wish I could have read this before I graduated in May.
Mina De Caro (Mina's Bookshelf)
Read my full review on MINA'S BOOKSHELF

Smart book! Wry social commentary disguised in young adult fiction and served with a healthy dose of humor makes for some refreshing read. Personal Statement is the irreverent portrayal of three ambitious college-bound students who will transform a natural catastrophe into an opportunity to boost their resumes and enhance their chances to be accepted by prestigious universities.

[...]continues on
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Personal Statement!
Other YA books often make the mistake of getting overly stuck in meaningless teenage angst. Others have to create fantastical worlds just to give the characters some crisis. Jason Odell Williams avoids both of those mistakes by giving us characters who face a real world challenge (getting in to college in today's environment) and he hits the balance of humor and angst perfectly.
I recommend this book for sure! (even if you've already finished your application
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. The writing is witty (though in some places I think the author tries a bit too hard to be "hip") and sharp. I actually hated every character in this book at one point or another but that's ok because they are 17 and think they know everything about the world. I was never Ivy driven but I can remember what that college process was like. We all knew kids who were just like these kids (if we weren't these kids ourselves). Overall, a well written and very scary look at th ...more
Kimberly Peyton
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was an absolute blast to read! I was fascinated by how the high school landscape has changed in the last 20+ years. I found myself impressed at the characters' ambition, and when I worried that they may be missing an opportunity to enjoy themselves, in comes the great scene at the B&B captured brilliantly through social media. Fantastic! The characters are perfectly drawn - I saw parts of myself or others in my life in all of them, and therefore found them totally relatable. I am reall ...more
Shayna Zema
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for anyone who has survived or is planning on going through the college application process. Fun-spirited and witty, the book is unable to be placed down! I began reliving my past through the individual tales of certain characters and would wholeheartedly recommend reading this book. And I guess that's my "personal statement." ...more
Josh Daws
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great modern youth novel that doesn't involve anemic vampires. Realistic portrayal of the stresses of applying to college that somehow manages to be both funny and biting. A must read for anyone who's applying or has applied to college. ...more
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fun insight into that crazy time in young people's lives when their futures rest on one event. Enjoyed the read! ...more
Soniah Kamal
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this smart and very funny social satire of a novel. Told through the voices Emily Kim, Rani Caldwell, and Robert Clinton III, these three high schoolers are trying to write personal statements that will make their already laudatory college applications just that much more special. Alexis J. Gould is the fourth narrator, a grown-up version of the three teens and now trying to make her mark on the world. The voices are distinctive and believable. I rooted for these characters no matter how ...more
Megan Whitworth
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
I really enjoyed this book! Since I am currently in the college application process myself, I could easily relate to the characters' situation. I loved the concept of the story and the dramatization of "competitive volunteering" and the extent that some kids will go to to beef up their resumes. Some of the pop culture references were irritating- I cringed when I read that someone was jumping for joy "oppa Gangnam style," and I thought that the relationship aspect of the characters' lives was a l ...more
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a great read, I was very inetersted in all of the characters, and it's a great insight to how young people are approaching their college admissions, and indeed thier future lives in this modern age. I wish I had developed the sort of strategic thinking these kids had when I was in school. It really got me thinking about the relevance of the traditional university education in time where entrepreneurs can get themselves on the map with a great dot com or even a brilliant app! I loved the ...more
Seth Guterman
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's a highly entertaining take on today's college admissions process. ...more
Jeff Brecker
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this. Brought me back to my days as a private high schooler who thought that this one decision would be the most important of my life. Really looking forward to Williams next book.
Nancy Greenspan Wilson
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Really easy, light read. Took me 2 days.
Sep 21, 2013 added it
I will definitely read Jason Odell Williams's second novel. Need I say more?

So damn clever.
McKenzie Tozan
Sep 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed-books
We’ve all been there. We reached the final year of high school and discovered the college, the school, the job, the career that we wanted, and we attempted to move forward. We did everything we thought we needed to do—and more—to ensure that we would land one of the open seats in the version of the future that we wanted most. But sometimes, that “more” becomes problematic; we go in too deep, lose ourselves along the way, perhaps do some things we wouldn’t normally do—or for reasons we wouldn’t h ...more
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, humor
Personal Statement is a very funny though also somewhat poignant commentary on the rat race that college admissions have become. The storyline follows a handful of rising seniors in high school as they head for a small town in Connecticut that's about to be hit by hurricane. They do it not for altruistic reasons, however, but to boost their college application, hoping to get famous by volunteering and to get a good topic for their personal statement essay. Interestingly, the governor of the stat ...more
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Jason is an Emmy Award-nominated writer & producer of the television series, "Brain Games" -- the highest rated show on the National Geographic Channel. As a playwright, his work has been produced at regional theatres across the country and in New York City. Originally from Columbia, Maryland, and a graduate of The University of Virginia, Jason lives in New York City with his actress-singer-direct ...more

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