Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO) | Reviewed by Steve Bertolino, Reference/Instruction Librarian, Middlesex Community College
"In the intimate, affecting documentary PERSONAL STATEMENT, three high school seniors become peer counselors at their various high schools, to encourage their fellow students to develop the drive and skills to get into college, while they themselves are working on their own college applications. Enoch, Karolina, and Christine each work in the student success center in their separate high schools, all of which are located in Brooklyn, N.Y. Supported by their own school counselors, they are in essence becoming mentors and social workers to their peers, a burden that sometimes hangs heavily on them, especially as they face their own struggles – institutional, familial, personal – to keep their own aspirations and college plans on track. The film admirably doesn’t try to preach or even intrude into their daily lives, but instead simply shows them progressing through the school year, making conscious decisions to try to help their peers, working on the personal statements for their own college applications, and trying to deal with the various obstacles in their way to finding, choosing, getting accepted to, and finding the money to go to college."
Washington Student Achievement Council | Michael P. Meotti, Executive Director
"PERSONAL STATEMENT brings to life the gaps in opportunity that lower income students and students of color face every year as they struggle to reach their dreams of continuing their education after high school. More importantly, the documentary delivers an emotional boost fueled by the optimism and grit of the three extraordinary young adults who are the main subjects of the film who make you realize that they and we can succeed if our country is smart enough to support them."
California Community Colleges Counselors Association and California Career Development Association | Dr. Lisa Raufman, Past President
"PERSONAL STATEMENT is an "excellent 'advocacy for college counseling in high schools' tool that can be used by any group of counselors who want decision makers to understand the need for college counselor specialists."
Friends of WHEELS | Molly Delano, Executive Director
"PERSONAL STATEMENT is "such a powerful affirmation of our work; and a compelling reflection of the reality for the millions of high school students and first generation college students around the country whose stories are reflected in the film. The deep inequities in our education system and the power of youth leadership are also on full display."
East Side Middle School | David Getz, Principal
"The response to the film has been consistent in that everybody who watches it is moved and wants to help. Our students have consistently thanked us for showing them the film. I think the film is brilliant in the way it shows the personal impact of societal forces. Our students have responded quite emotionally to these stories; a seventh grade class today asked for the opportunity to address the Chancellor or their representatives about the film. We are going to provide them the opportunity to write letters to either the Chancellor or their representatives on the City Council."
The Journal of College Admissions | Mary Stegmeir
"As the documentary shows, consistent and on-going support throughout the college admission process can help students overcome obstacles to college enrollments."
New York Times | David Leonhardt, New York Times Columnist
"For anyone interested in economic diversity in higher education — as I am — I recommend a new film that follows three high school students in Brooklyn as they try to navigate the application process. It’s called 'PERSONAL STATEMENT' and ... [it] describes the hurdles that lower-income students face, from the lack of a single college counselor at many high schools to the byzantine misery of financial aid forms...The film feels particularly timely in the wake of the college admissions scandal."
The Hechinger Report | Liz Willen, Editor in Chief
"The challenging admissions journeys these three public high school seniors from Brooklyn face provide a dramatic story line for PERSONAL STATEMENT a stunning new documentary...The film’s campaign for more guidance counselors correctly hits a nerve. A typical college counselor in a U.S. public high school is responsible for 482 students...the need for better resources and support for students pursuing higher education at every step of the way should be atop all of our agendas."
American Film Institute
"Inspirational and moving, heartwarming and heartbreaking, PERSONAL STATEMENT is a testament to the power of knowledge and the ability to lead with a dream.”
Houston Independent School District | Rick Cruz, Chief of Strategy and Innovation
"This video - through these stories - shows us how far a little bit of guidance and counseling and encouragement can go. I hope it serves as a call to action. Everyone should realize the severity of this issue and get involved."
Best Documentary Feature Honorable Mention | Woodstock Film Festival Jury Citation
"We were so moved by this portrayal of these inspiring young high school students who work to mentor other at-risk high school students while simultaneously struggling to navigate the tangle of academic achievement, paperwork and bureaucracy necessary for them to reach for the stars themselves. The characters were so fresh and accessible. The filmmakers clearly established incredible trust with their subjects and their families. It was clear that we were witnessing the coming of age of our next generation of leaders and advocates, all emerging from extremely challenging and at time precarious circumstances."
Feedback from Students in Iowa
"I personally have a lot of struggles with the college process. I am the first person in my family to be going to college and so it’s hard to have the correct guidance. This film made me realize that I can make it and things will be okay."
"It was really good to see that other people also struggle to know where they belong and to see that these things are overcome-able."
"This film gave me hope for finishing high school and the ability to get through the application process. It showed me that I need to find some close people to be able to both help me get to college and help others get there too."