Warrior Words: First impressions

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. The first impression is a critical part of life, and they happen all the time. The first day at a new job, a soccer try-out, or an audition for the school play can go horribly wrong, or amazingly well depending on the impression you make. From the very first moment, you’re being evaluated, summed up, and profiled into an impression that becomes interchangeable with your name. Good or bad, they’re hard to shake.

For seniors, one of the biggest (and scariest) first impressions is happening right now. The Common App essay is the first impression that colleges get of you. You have 650 words to sell yourself to someone who knows nothing about you, maybe not even your name. Yet somewhere between the endless grammar checks and trivial synonym searches, there is an immaculately crafted piece of writing that paints an exquisite image of exactly who you are.

As with any first impression, you can’t be overly showy and loud, or else everyone will think you are obnoxious. Yet, you also can’t be too quiet and safe; then you will be tossed aside with all the other mundane applicants. Your essay has to be an incredibly flattering portrait of yourself and your writing ability.

Some advice: Don’t use thesaurus.com to replace simple words with more abstruse words that you, nor the person reading your essay, know the definition of. (In case you’re wondering, abstruse means difficult to understand). Don’t waste your hours looking for some profound realization about the universe and the origins of life that has no correlation to you and who you are. My plan is to do what I’ve been told by my parents to do on the first day of school every year since the Miller-Driscoll days; be yourself. You can make a good first impression by just giving an impression of yourself. Of course, the challenge is making a memorable impression on colleges that read hundreds, if not thousands, of first impressions every single day. There are a lot of star students at Wilton High School. What we have to do is convince colleges that we are the shining star for them, and perfect to be pulled into the gravitational field of their planet (preferably one with good food and nice dorms).

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. In this case, that's a good thing, because once I hit send, I’m done with the Common App essay. My first impression in 650 words or less will show a background, identity, interest, or talent that is uniquely me. It is the first impression, and it is done.


Julia Vitarelli is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with four classmates.