826LA’s 9th Annual Great LA Personal Statement Weekend: Connections for the Future

“The best part of the GLAPSW was meeting an individual who genuinely wanted to help me reach my goal.

On November 17th and 18th, 826LA hosted almost 250 students and volunteers for the 9th Annual Great Los Angeles Personal Statement Weekend (GLAPSW) at Manual Arts High School. Students from various Los Angeles high schools had the wonderful opportunity to sit and get one-on-one help from a volunteer to write their personal statements for college applications.

Many students participating in the event are the first in their families to go through the college application process, or they go to high schools where college counselors have more students than they can properly help. 

Volunteers played an important role this weekend, encouraging students to open up and write about their experiences, accomplishments, and passions in just a five-hour period. Helping students value their voices and stories, and contextualize them for college admissions staff, is a challenging task. The college-bound seniors impacted volunteers just as much with their inspiring stories. 

Read volunteer and student testimonials from GLAPSW below:

“Personally, as a Latina student, I found it really hard to find people that support me and see my potential. Having people that provide me these kinds of services that not only help me get into the college of my choice, but are also free is all really inspiring. It helps me want to continue striving for a better life.”

UCLA hopeful

“I went through the college application process last year, and I know how stressful it can be. Being able to help people out with a process that I know really stressed me out is very rewarding.

– College freshman at USC, 1st year GLAPSW volunteer


“At school, there is only so much that one college counselor can do. Having this one-on-one meeting was really helpful. Together we were able to write and brainstorm and correct my essays.”
– College Track member

“Volunteering at GLAPSW is honestly super easy because my student is already incredibly amazing and accomplished. Today is about getting them to admit it!”

–GLAPSW volunteer

“My tutor helped me realize that I actually have done a lot in my four years of high school. She made me realize that I am a hardworking person even if it is hard for me to realize that about myself. It’s difficult to talk about yourself, but she made me feel really outstanding.”

ALC student


“Every time I volunteer at GLAPSW, it restores my faith in humanity because I see these students who are just so bright, and they work so hard, and they do such amazing things. I feel like, ‘okay, our future is going to be fine!”’

– Four-year GLAPSW volunteer

Volunteers from different careers and educational paths join together to accomplish a collective goal: help a student earn the opportunity to attend college. The experience becomes much more enriching when a tutor gets partnered up with a student with similar experiences or interests. Read a few stories of bonds made between student and volunteer:

“We connected. My tutor had felt a lot of the feelings I am feeling. In a way, my volunteer and I had similar experiences that shaped who we are and what we’ve done. We connected over that. It made the whole flow of writing easier.”

UCR prospective

“My student is interested in studying engineering, and that’s what I have a degree in. He is also into gardening and I was super involved with the gardening club at my college. It was fate. I feel like I was able to give specific insight. It was a great match.”

– GLAPSW volunteer for several years 

“My volunteer is great, she’s helped me with writing and grammar and how to do it well. She’s an English teacher, and I love to write as well.

– HOLA student 


Being tutored by an adult who understands college prep is great. Being tutored by an adult who not only grew up in same community, but attended the same high school as you is priceless. Read what a Roosevelt High School student had to say when she found out her tutor attended Roosevelt too:

“I was so shocked. I sat down and with her, and she told me she had gone to UC Berkeley. She didn’t say anything about her high school, so I was curious. I asked her and she started giggling! She said she went to Roosevelt!

I was like, ‘Woah, no way!’ When I first met her, I didn’t think she knew the area. It made the whole experience better because she knows how it goes. She knows my environment. She was open minded. I had one PIQ done and she helped with it. We got straight to work and got four of them done. I really liked it. She was helpful.”

Post GLAPSW survey results shows:

99% of students felt more prepared to apply to college

100% of students felt more confident about their personal statements

97% of students received help from GLAPSW that they otherwise wouldn’t have received

99% of students made significant progress on their personal statements

100% of students felt that the adults they worked with cared about their success in school

100% of students felt that the adults they worked with cared about their success in school

99% of students showed interest in participating in more writing activities with 826LA

100% of students would recommend other students to attend GLAPSW

100% of students felt proud of their personal statements after working with a tutor

Thank You

826LA thanks the students, educators, and staff of the participating high schools: Academic Leadership Community (AlC), Los Angeles School of Global Studies, Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School, West Adams Preparatory High School, Manual Arts Senior High School, Ánimo Leadership, College Track Watts, Manual Arts Senior High School, Ánimo Watts College Preparatory Academy,  Ánimo Jackie Robinson, and Ánimo Leadership.

Students from Manual Arts High School

A special thank you to our Corporate Partners who came together to support high school seniors during GLAPSW: Writers Guild Foundation, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Nickelodeon, Amazon,  and Age of Learning. A big thank you to Trader Joe’s for donating snacks, and lunches for participants throughout the weekend. Thank you to Starbucks for providing guests with an abundance of coffee! Lastly, thank you ER Copies for donating printed materials. 

Volunteers from CAA

Check out photos from the weekend here!

All photos courtesy of Jorge Segura. See more pictures of GLAPSW on our Flickr here.

What’s next? 

Throughout the school year, the In-Schools program works with thousands of students. If you have daytime weekday availability, we urge you to complete a TB Test, so you can participate as an In-schools volunteer at schools throughout LAUSD. All TB testing information is located here.

Not an 826LA volunteer yet? Sign up for an upcoming Volunteering 101!

Check out more photos from the weekend here

To read about 826LA’s 8th Annual Great LA Personal Statement Weekend, click here.

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