- How to start a personal statement: The attention grabber
Applying to university
- Getting started
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- When to apply to a conservatoire
- What to do if you don’t have copies of old exam certificates
- Fraud and similarity
- How to get a reference
- Admissions tests
- Coping with financial difficulty as a mature student
- Education is for life
- Mature student case studies
- Mature students – getting ready to start your course
- Mature students: five things to include in your personal statement
- Preparing for study as a mature student – choosing where to study
- Preparing for study as a mature student – student support
- Preparing for study as a mature student – your qualifications
- References for mature students
- Student finance for mature students
- The application process for mature students
- Writing a reference for a mature student
- Why study in the UK?
- Tips for international applications
- How to apply to study in the UK through the new Student route
- What finance options are available to me if I want to study in the UK?
- What level of English do I need to get into a UK university?
- Ten ways to choose a UK university
- The strength of a UK qualification to employers
- How to prepare for a uni interview
- What support is available at university
- How to look after your mental health while at uni
- How to open a UK bank account
- Five ways to save money at university
- Checklist for international students
- Six support organisations that help international students
- Disabled students: Preparing for open days and visits
- Speaking to the disability support team or mental health adviser
- Support for disabled students – frequently asked questions
- UCAS Undergraduate for mature students
- Student carers
- Students with parenting responsibilities
- UCAS Undergraduate: support for care leavers
- Applying to university as an estranged student
- Students from a UK Armed Forces background
- Support for students who have been bereaved as a child
- How to apply in Welsh
- The UCAS Undergraduate application process
- Clearing guide for parents
- Staying safe online
- Personal statement guides
- Criminal convictions – what you need to know
- How to write a personal statement that works for multiple courses
- Personal statement advice and example: computer science
- Personal statement advice: English
- Personal statement advice: Midwifery
- Personal statement advice: animal science
- Personal statement advice: biology
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- Personal statement advice: dance
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- Personal statement advice: teacher training and education
- Personal statement advice: veterinary medicine
- Personal statement: finance and accounting
- How To Write Your Undergraduate Personal Statement
How to end your personal statement
- Introducing the personal statement tool
- Personal statement dos and don'ts
- Using your personal statement beyond a university application
- What to include in a personal statement
- Carers, estranged students, refugees, asylum seekers, and those with limited leave to remain
The best statements tend to be genuine and specific from the very start. You'll be on the right track if you show your enthusiasm for the subject or course, your understanding of it, and what you want to achieve.
Admissions tutors – the people who read and score your personal statement – say don’t get stressed about trying to think of a ‘killer opening’. Discover the advice below and take your time to think about how best to introduce yourself.
Liz Bryan: HE Coordinator and Careers Advisor, Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College
Preparing to write your personal statement.
Start by making some notes . The personal statement allows admissions tutors to form a picture of who you are. So, for the opener, think about writing down things, such as:
- why you’re a good candidate
- your motivations
- what brings you to this course
If you’re applying for multiple courses , think about how your skills, academic interests, and the way you think are relevant to all the courses you've chosen.
Top tips on how to write your statement opener
We spoke to admissions tutors at unis and colleges – read on for their tips.
1. Don't begin with the overkill opening
Try not to overthink the opening sentence. You need to engage the reader with your relevant thoughts and ideas, but not go overboard .
Tutors said: ‘The opening is your chance to introduce yourself, to explain your motivation for studying the course and to demonstrate your understanding of it. The best personal statements get to the point quickly. Go straight in. What excites you about the course and why do you want to learn about it more?’
Be succinct and draw the reader in, but not with a gimmick. This isn't the X Factor. Admissions tutor
2. Write about why you want to study that course
Think about why you want to study the course and how you can demonstrate this in your written statement :
’Your interest in the course is the biggest thing. Start with a short sentence that captures the reason why you’re interested in studying the area you’re applying for and that communicates your enthusiasm for it. Don't waffle or say you want to study something just because it's interesting. Explain what you find interesting about it.’
It's much better to engage us with something interesting, relevant, specific and current in your opening line… Start with what's inspiring you now, not what inspired you when you were six. Admissions tutor
3. Avoid cliches
Try to avoid cliches and the most obvious opening sentences so you stand out from the very first line . UCAS publishes a list of common opening lines each year. Here are just some overused phrases to avoid using in your personal statement:
- From a young age…
- For as long as I can remember…
- I am applying for this course because…
- I have always been interested in…
- Throughout my life I have always enjoyed…
And try not to use quotes . Quotations are top of the list of admissions tutors' pet hates.
4. Maybe don't begin at the start?
’Concentrate on the main content of your statement and write the introduction last. I think the opening line is the hardest one to write, so I often say leave it until the end and just try and get something down on paper.’
It may be easier to get on with writing the main content of your statement and coming back to the introduction afterwards –that way you will also know what you’re introducing.
I often advise applicants to start with paragraph two, where you get into why you want to study the course. That's what we're really interested in. Admissions tutor
Joseph Bolton: Year 2 History& Politics student, University of Liverpool
- Do talk about you and your enthusiasm for the subject from the very start.
- Do be specific. Explain what you want to study and why in the first two sentences.
- Do come back to the opening sentences if you can’t think what to write straightaway.
- Don’t waste time trying to think of a catchy opening.
- Don't waffle – simply explain what you find interesting about the subject and show that you know what you are applying for.
- Don't rely on someone else's words. It's your statement after all – they want to know what you think.
One final thought
Think about making a link between your opening sentence and closing paragraph – a technique sometimes called the 'necklace approach’.
You can reinforce what you said at the start or add an extra dimension. For example, if you started with an interesting line about what’s currently motivating you to study your chosen degree course, you could link back to it at the end, perhaps with something about why you’d love to study this further at uni.
Need more advice?
- Struggling with the conclusion to your personal statement? Read our guide on how to finish your statement the right way .
- Read more dos and don’ts when writing your personal statement .
- Discover what to include in your personal statement .
- Start your opening sentences with our personal statement builder now.
UCAS scans all personal statements with the Copycatch system, to compare them with previous statements.
Any similarity greater than 30% will be flagged and action could be taken against you.
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How to Write an Outstanding Personal Statement When Applying to College
If you’re getting ready to put together your college applications, that means it’s time to start thinking about writing your personal statement. Many first-year, transfer, and graduate school applications will ask you to write about who you are and why you want to attend college.
Writing a personal statement is your chance to show the admissions team who you are outside of what they can see from your application materials. It’s an opportunity to speak about you as a person and more than a student — what your grades and transcripts don’t show.
Writing something that will wow the reader is a considerable task, especially if you don’t think of yourself a writer. With a bit of preparation and a proofreader or two, you can have a personal statement that will get you noticed.
To help you feel more confident when it’s time to sit down and write your personal statement, we’ve gathered some tips to help you craft a unique and creative essay. Keep reading to learn how to write a personal statement that showcases the real you.
How to Write a Compelling Personal Statement
College applications are either due by a specific date or accepted on a rolling basis. UB accepts applications on a rolling basis, but we have an early action date that gives you priority consideration for grants and scholarships . When planning your college applications, you should give yourself a deadline or a target date to have your essay finished. The idea is to avoid any last-minute planning or writing sessions.
Knowing your submission deadline helps you create a plan. Give yourself enough time to outline, write, edit, and rewrite (and edit some more). A month would be a great goal to give yourself enough time to write your essay without rushing.
The bottom line is to give yourself as much time as possible so you can do your best work because writing about yourself is one of the hardest forms of writing!
Following the Directions
Admissions departments will give you guidelines to follow. Make sure you know the parameters for each of your applications. Check for word count maximums, word count minimums, and questions or themes they want you to address in your essay.
Check for all the details in your application materials when you sit down to outline your rough draft. Some schools may indicate a font, font size, or margin size for your submission. Showing you have attention to detail and can follow directions is something admissions professionals are looking at when they go through your application.
Telling Your Story
Your college essay is an opportunity to flex your storytelling muscles. It’s easy to cite facts about yourself — the standard format for many applicants. However, you want to create something that will help you stand out to the admissions team reading your application.
By placing yourself inside a story, you grab the attention of the person reading your application — the kind of attention that moves you along in the acceptance process. It’s okay to try something a bit different from your norm.
We’re not all natural storytellers, but help is out there.
With a quick Google search, you can find pages of college essay examples. As you read through examples of personal statements, try to find inspiration in the themes and stories you see. Don’t copy what you see but find sample essays that speak to you and can help you figure out how you want to tell your story.
Pro Tip: Show them who you are rather than tell them who you are.
A unique theme, an opening hook, or a bold beginning are just a few ways you can create a unique and creative personal statement that will grab your reader’s attention.
Here are some common themes that students incorporate into their stories:
- Awkward situations
- Difficult decisions
Try not to describe these situations in your life. Instead, place these themes inside a story that connects to your life. A story about something as mundane as the contents of your backpack can explore many of these themes in your life when done thoughtfully and creatively.
Editing Your Writing
Every good writer has a good editor. We are often our worst editors because we’ve been staring at our writing for too long to see minor errors. Your personal statement is one of those times where you want to go above and beyond to be sure your writing is free from all typos, grammatical errors, spelling errors, and word usage issues.
After you’ve read through your statement several times find someone you trust to be a fresh set of eyes for you. Ask them to read through your work before submitting it with your college application.
Pro Tip : Read your writing aloud to yourself.
Reading aloud helps you catch errors you might miss when reading silently to yourself.
One small side note to add to the idea of editing is this:
Applying to college is a long-awaited milestone in your life. You may feel a lot of pressure to have everything to be as close to perfect as possible to give yourself the best chance of getting into your choice of college. But know this…
Every single story ever written has yet to be finished.
Even professional writers and famous novelists fear their work could have been better. You risk spending 95% of your time on the last 5% of your essay getting it polished. After you’ve proofread your piece and asked someone to read it for you, there may come a time when you have to tell yourself that close is good enough and done is better than perfect, or you will lose yourself while chasing perfection — an impossible task.
Don’t be afraid to express yourself. College applications, and especially your personal statement, are when you should be bold and assert who you are. Show the parts of you that your transcripts and grades can’t.
Instead of writing what you think they want to read, write a piece that demonstrates who you are and is what you want to write. Share what matters to you. Colleges are looking for students who will be a good fit for their campus — building bridges and growing the community with unique thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Your essay shouldn’t minimize who you are; it should declare who you are in a vibrant way that convinces the college you want to go to that you’re who they are looking for in a student.
As a test-optional school, University of Bridgeport encourages everyone to write an essay, but one is required if you’re applying without ACT or SAT scores.
We’re excited to learn more about you and your story! Applications are open, and we accept applications on a rolling basis.
Interested in learning more about UB’s dynamic and inclusive campus community and how to become a #purpleknight? Click here to learn more!
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5 Steps Guide How to Write a Personal Statement for College
04 May 2021
❓What Is a Personal Statement for College?
📑How To Start A College Personal Statement?
✏️Outline and Format of a Personal Statement
☝️5 Tips On Writing A Personal Statement
An effective personal statement may be your lucky ticket in the procedure of entering a university or college. Many students-to-be experience the issue quite harshly as they understand that a quality paper is not that easy to be composed. Admission boards encounter various compositions but what they look for is something that catches their attention. Therefore, your story shall be dynamic, properly structured, and concise demonstrating the key points to the potential evaluators. Your values and objectives shall become clear to the reader even if read without thorough analysis.
What Is a Personal Statement for College?
A college personal statement is a paper that is scanned by admission committee members to evaluate you as a potential student of their educational institution. Otherwise called a college admission essay, this piece of work should demonstrate your qualities, skills, background, and interests proving that you are the right person to be enrolled in the college.
All the features you cultivated during your life that might be essential for your desired studies shall be included. If properly organized, your biography makes you succeed, while proper biography facts organization is often the problem. Sometimes, personal statement writing services are the life vest for future students. Because you’re also welcome to incorporate your work experience and your prospects in the personal statement, professional help is often needed to compile a decent paper.
College admission essays are a key factor contributing to the admission committee's decision on you. Your job details, work as a volunteer, relevant hobbies, placements, and responsibilities are what makes your paper unique and outstanding. This is your chance to literally state yourself in your own words, as the definition of personal statement suggests.
Academic transcripts and SAT scores, which are also submitted, play a secondary role. They are customary and formal. Your personal statement shall be vivid and authentic instead. Letters of recommendation cover this niche only partially because they tell vividly about you without showing your attitude toward your strengths and weaknesses and the way you make use of them.
How to Write a Personal Statement for College?
Generally, a personal statement for college should pursue three basic goals to be efficient and powerful:
- give an idea of your background;
- be illustrative of your objectives;
- be specific.
With your background, try to include as many points as you can, but remember they should be relevant points. If you think your previous experiences can contribute to your future profession and your academic success at the college, put them in. If it's not obvious how they can be useful for you in the academic and professional future, explain it, but be concise.
Note that best personal statements mirror neither your resume nor your autobiography. They give a comprehensive perspective of the preconditions and qualifications for the study you have, not just list the skills or life events.
To demonstrate your academic willingness, you should provide confidence that you know your goals. They shall be clearly stated to correlate your background with the curriculum and your envisioned career. Many applicants have difficulty with it, and that's why the ' write a personal statement for me ’ request becomes popular every college enrollment season. Sending your personal background data for professional elaboration is a good idea if you want to stand out among other applicants.
With expert help, you'll be able to tie what you have accomplished with what you plan to accomplish. Here, we should meet the third requirement: writing a personal statement for college, be specific. In your admission essay, try to answer very specific questions, and don't be indistinct regarding what you want to improve. Even if you are very talented in both maths and arts and have certificates or experiences proving this, stay focused on your selected university's program.
Many young people don’t know how to start a personal statement for college. As with many other papers, here you should begin with preparatory work. Of course, this kind of writing does not imply month-long research or a scientific thesis, but certain highlights and logical structure should be present.
As soon as you have the input data collected, you can start. Find a comfy and motivating place where you can concentrate on your personal statement goals. Imagine the professors who will read your writing and evaluate it from the point of view of your suitability for college majors and future profession. Think about how you can sell yourself, and be memorable and unique.
Need help with writing a personal statement?
Get your paper written by a professional writer
Outline and Format
A proper and catchy admission essay does not mean only relevant content. Formatting and structure are also critical to make the comprehension of the paper easy. First, find out the requirements for a personal statement for college format, as they may vary from institution to institution. If you belong to the vast majority of students experiencing difficulties with adherence to academic formats, consider buying a personal statement online from experts. In this case, you'll get a perfectly formatted work complying with the personal statement formats for college and written in a logical manner.
- If the college you apply to does not present any format requirements, the general rule is as follows: 2-3 pages, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, Times New Roman 12 font. There should be at least three paragraphs standing for the introduction, main body, and conclusion, but your admission essay will feel much more academic and consistent if you split the text into 5-8 paragraphs. To do it efficiently, first think over a personal statement for college outline which corresponds to your narration goals most.
- The essay can be written in both the first and third person, but make sure you don’t switch between the two, keep to one selected voice. If writing in the first person, don’t use the “I”-sentences too often. Mind that there is no correct answer to the question of how long should a personal statement be for college. Usually, it is between 350 and 500 words long.
If you still feel not confident about how to format a personal statement for college and compose it efficiently, check out our writing tips.
5 Tips On Writing A Successful Personal Statement
Although this is not a very complicated and lengthy paper, it’s still not an easy task to compose it. You cannot simply write anything; your future career is on the line! Sometimes you may be asked to add an autobiography to your admission essay. It’s straightforward and longer, so you may need to ask for expert help to write an autobiography essay . With a proper paper, your chances will be much higher.
We've collected some useful tips, following which you'll end with a successful, concise, and up-to-the-point statement.
- Imagine your readers and state your objective.
You should aim to catch the professors' attention from the first paragraph. Just think of how many papers they have for evaluation. Yours must be of interest to addressees and make them want to read till the end. For a focus, you may begin with a quote or a powerful phrase encompassing your strivings or mirroring the area you want to study.
Here, an ideal essay should include a statement that covers your objectives and assures you are the right candidate for the studies.
- Tell about yourself and your prospects.
Write your background info: your age, education, qualifications, skills, and inclinations. Masterclasses, volunteer work, contests, internships, and practical training related to your future career demonstrate your determination and motivation. These data may help you succeed if you manage to justify your specialty choice based on them.
- Connect your past and your future
Explain how your qualifications and skills cultivated in the past may become fundamental for your desired purpose. List your unique features or experiences and show how you can be useful in your future profession. Use powerful expressions to convince the admission committee members but don't overdo it: stay logical and do not lie.
Stuck with finding the right title?
Get plenty of fresh and catchy topic ideas and pick the perfect one with PapersOwl Title Generator.
- Prepare an authentic paper
Never copy-paste your personal statements from the internet! Also, don't prepare one and the same essay for many different institutions. The admission committee members, thanks to their experience, know this kind of essay inside out. They will learn a plagiarized or low-quality, standardized paper from the very beginning and just discard it. By contrast, if they see tailored, original and advanced work, your admission chances vault to the top.
While writing, don't overestimate yourself. Less "I"-sentences, more substantiation and description of your capabilities. Be passionate, but keep balance. Make sure to mention your hobbies if they are relevant and avoid mentioning them if you just want to show how multisided you are. Diverse interests may raise the impression that you are still not sure about what you really want.
- Follow a worthy example
If you’re still clueless about how to write personal essay for college, try to find examples of successful essays. We've discussed the most helpful tips and secrets, but a good ready-made paper in front of your eyes may be of even greater importance. Do not copy the essays, however, even if they have much in common with what you'd like to write. You may follow the general guidelines and principles of the powerful essay composition, but the stuffing – achievements, abilities, interests – should be individual.
The other way is to have an admission essay produced by a professional service. After you provide all the details you'd like to highlight, an expert writer will compose a relevant paper that will definitely be a hit. That's a secure way to get a successful personal statement and avoid plenty of associated problems.
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I am a proficient writer from the United States with over five years of experience in academic writing. I comfortably complete given assignments within stipulated deadlines and at the same time deliver high-quality work, which follows the guidelines provided.
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How to Write a Personal Statement – 5 Personal Statement Examples
How to write a personal statement? – Introduction
The personal statement is one of the most important parts of the college application process. For this reason, it’s often also one of the most anxiety-inducing. If you’ve been searching for personal statement examples because writing your personal statement has you worried (or excited), then you’re in the right place.
In this article, we’ll present five personal statement examples and teach you how to write a personal statement that highlights who you are and demonstrates your full potential to colleges. We’re going to outline what a personal statement is, how colleges use them in the application process, and which topics tend to work best for college applicants. Then, we’ll offer some advice and tools to help you draft, edit, and finalize your own personal statement. Finally, we’ll walk you through five personal essay examples, breaking them down individually, so you can see just what makes them work.
Writing a personal statement may seem like a daunting task, especially if you aren’t clear on just exactly what a personal statement for college is. After you see your first personal statement example, things may seem clearer. But first, let’s demystify the term “personal statement.”
What is a personal statement?
Learning how to write a personal statement starts with understanding the term . I’m sure throughout the college application process you’ve heard your counselors, teachers, and classmates talking about the importance of a personal statement. While you may know that the personal statement for a university is extremely important, you still might not be clear on just what it is. You may have never even seen a personal statement example. So, before you attempt to start writing , let’s answer the questions: what is a personal statement for college? And just how do universities use them to evaluate students?
A personal statement for college is your chance to set yourself apart from other students and show admissions who you are. A strong personal statement for a university will describe your unique experiences and background in a first-person narrative. And when done well, it’s your opportunity to catch the right attention of an admission officer.
No pressure, right? Don’t stress quite yet. The process of writing a personal statement can be fun! It’s an opportunity to write about something you’re passionate about. You’ll be able to see a personal statement example later on (five, actually!), and you’ll notice that it’s not about the perfect topic , but rather, how you tell your story.
Personal statement basics
Now, let’s talk about personal essay specifics. Generally speaking, a personal statement will be between 400-700 words, depending on the specific university guidelines or application portal. The Common App essay must be 250-650 words. The Coalition App , by contrast, suggests that students write 500-650 words. Try to aim for the higher end of those ranges, as you’ll be hard pressed to write a compelling personal statement without enticing descriptions.
Apart from the word count, what’s the personal statement format? The personal statement for a university should be written in a first-person conventional prose format. You may be a wonderful poet or fiction writer but refrain from using those styles in your personal statement. While using those styles in a personal essay could occasionally be a hit with admissions, it’s best to showcase that style of writing elsewhere. If you choose to add your creative writing style to your application, you should do so by submitting a writing portfolio. Generally speaking, the strongest personal statement will be written in first-person prose language.
General or prompted
When it comes to a personal statement for college, it will generally fall into one of two categories : general, comprehensive personal statement, or a response to a very specific personal essay prompt. In the open-ended option, you’ll want to share a story about something important related to your life. This could be about family, experiences, academics, or extracurriculars . Just be careful not to repeat your entire resume. That’s certainly not the goal of a personal essay.
Remember, it’s a personal statement. So, share something that you haven’t elsewhere. If given a prompt, it will likely be open-ended so that you can flex your creativity and show off your writing style. You’ll be able to write a story that genuinely matters to you, ideally sharing something that has made you who you are.
You may also need a personal statement when applying to certain programs, such as business or STEM programs. The basic idea is the same, but you’ll want to connect your experiences to the specific program. Check out the details of writing a personal statement for a specific field .
That extra push
The college application process can seem rigid at times; the personal statement for college is your chance to show off in a way that has nothing to do with GPA or transcripts. The personal statement is an opportunity for colleges to meet students on their own terms. It’s essentially your written interview .
At top universities, many students will have similar grades and test scores. A strong personal statement gives students the chance to stand out and show that they’re more than just numbers on a transcript. What’s the extra push that an admissions officer may need to admit a qualified student? A well-written, compelling personal statement can help you gain admittance to competitive schools .
Having a support system throughout the college admissions process is important. Keep your parents in the loop with this personal statement webinar that offers details about the common app essay and the personal essay for college.
You are probably wondering the same things as other students about the college application essay or college essay tips. Read an admissions officer’s response to some FAQs and get some useful college essay tips.
The CommonApp Essay vs. The Personal Statement
So, we’ve discussed what a personal statement is and why it matters. Now, let’s discuss one common type of personal statement: the Common App essay. While each school may have their own personal statement topics, the Common App essay section has general prompts that will serve as your personal statement. The Common App essay will respond to one of seven prompts.
Common App Essay Questions for 2022-2023:
- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
- Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
For the most up-to-date information on the Common App essay, you can check their website .
The Common App essay personal statement prompts are intentionally open-ended. They are meant to give you the chance to tell your unique story . However, one requirement is that your Common App essay must be between 250-650 words.
You can choose to respond to any one of the seven prompts. Remember to choose the best prompt for you. It may seem obvious, but the personal statement for college is your opportunity to share your personal story. You’ll want to choose a topic you can write well about that will show how you’ve grown or changed. It’s also your opportunity to show off your writing style. So, pick a topic you enjoy writing about!
Check out some tips on how to tackle each prompt from the Common App essay blog. You may also want to read this Common App essay overview for juniors . We’ll get into more specific details later on how to write the Common App essay– and other personal statement topics in general– later in this article.
How important is a Personal Statement?
As we’ve mentioned, the personal statement is your chance to stand out in a pool of applicants. It’s an extremely important part of any college application. A personal statement for college will be a requirement of nearly every application you complete. Admissions will use your personal statement to get a sense of who you are beyond your grades and scores. So, if you want to show colleges what makes you unique, your personal statement is the place to do it. Figuring out how to write a personal statement is key to a successful application.
Seeing what works when it comes to your personal statement for university can be a helpful first step. U.S. News breaks down the process of writing a personal statement and gives some successful personal essay examples. Reading another student’s successful personal statement example will give you an idea of what impresses admissions. It may even get you excited about writing your own personal statement for college!
While every school will likely require some sort of personal statement, it may actually be used differently in the admissions process. How your personal statement is judged during the admissions process will depend on a school’s size, ranking, acceptance rate , and various other factors. Larger state schools will likely put the most importance on an applicant’s grades and scores while spending little time reviewing a student’s personal statement.
Especially important at top tier schools
However, at Ivy League schools and other elite institutions, many students have the same impressive grades, scores, and extracurriculars. The personal statement allows these schools to distinguish between high-achieving students. If you’re looking at these types of institutions, then a lot of importance should be placed on writing a personal statement that is unforgettable and impresses admissions.
So, we know that learning how to write a personal statement is key to many successful applications, but you may be thinking: what’s the difference between a personal statement and supplemental essays? Every school you apply to via the Common App will receive an identical copy of your Common App essay. The Common App essay serves as your personal statement.
However, each school will have their own supplemental requirements, which may include additional supplemental essays . For schools with many supplemental college essay prompts, your personal essay may not have as much of an impact on your overall application. Admissions officers will see your writing style, and likely your personality, in all of the college essay prompts you submit.
Additional personal statements
Still, you should always treat your personal essay with the utmost care. It can make a huge difference in the admissions process. You may also need to write other personal statements when applying to scholarships or specific programs . It’s good to get used to the process and the personal statement format during college application season.
When should I start writing my Personal Statement?
When it comes to all things in the college application process, including any college application essay, it’s best to start early . Don’t leave your personal statement for a university until the last moment. Writing a personal statement will take time. The sooner you start your personal statement for college, the more likely you are to succeed.
This doesn’t mean that you should start writing your personal statement for university the summer before your sophomore year. High school is a time for development, and colleges want to get to know you at your most mature. It’s just good practice to start thinking about how to write a personal statement early on.
Review personal statement examples
Think about personal statement format, personal statement topics, and personal statement ideas. Look at other students’ personal statement examples. You can start jotting down potential ideas for your personal essay for college at any time, which may be useful down the line. But, you don’t need to actually start writing your personal statement until the summer before your senior year .
Be open-minded to changing your personal statement topic as you grow and discover new things about yourself. Check out this personal statement webinar on how one student switched her personal essay for college at the last moment. Just like there is no set personal statement format, there are no rules against mixing up your topic as you see fit. But, at least try to allow yourself some time to revise and edit your personal essay for college to perfection.
What do I write in a personal statement?
There’s no one-size-fits-all outline when it comes to how to write a personal statement. Your personal statement for university will depend on your own background, interests, and character. Overall, it’s not the personal statement topics that will catch the eye of admissions officers– it’s how you write your story that will. You need to know how to write a personal statement that not only checks the boxes but is also powerful .
Important things to keep in mind when writing your personal statement:
Choose a topic you’re passionate about
What would you be excited to write about? Chase the personal statement topics that seem fun to write, think about, and talk about. If you’re passionate about your personal statement, your audience will feel it and be engaged.
Really be you
Authenticity is key when it comes to writing a personal statement. After all, it’s your chance to tell your story and really show admissions who you are. Whatever you write about, make sure it is true, honest, and authentic to your experiences.
Give it some flair
Ok, we don’t mean do something too unconventional like a personal statement haiku. But, you should show off your writing style in your personal statement for college. Admissions officers want to get to know you and your writing.
Knowing how to start a personal statement or how to start a college essay, in general, is often the most difficult part of the process. You’ll want to brainstorm some personal statement topics to get your creative juices flowing. CollegeAdvisor.com offers a masterclass on brainstorming personal statement topics for the Common App essay in case you need some help with how to start a college essay or a personal statement.
Still have doubts? Read more on how to write a personal statement and get some college essay tips from CollegeAdvisor.com’s admissions experts. It will also be helpful to look at some successful personal essay examples and understand why they worked . Good personal statement examples can inspire you to tackle writing your own personal essay for college.
Exploring Personal Statement Topics
It seems logical that when exploring the process of how to write a personal statement, you should start thinking about personal statement ideas. What are the best topics to write about in a personal statement? If you look at various successful personal statement examples, you’ll likely realize the topic isn’t necessarily the most important part. You don’t need to write about something that no one else has ever written about. You just need your personal statement to have its own unique spin. Lean into brainstorming personal statement ideas that show who you are. It’s helpful to read some personal statement examples for inspiration.
While there is no exact formula for “how to write a personal statement”, there are some basic guidelines that students should follow. The personal statement should be written in first-person nonfiction prose form. Often, a personal statement introduction will include a story or an anecdote and then expand to reveal the impact of that experience on the writer.
You may be specifically wondering how to start a personal statement. Well, it could be with a moment, a place, or a conversation that spurred some sort of change or growth within you. While this isn’t necessarily a “personal statement format,” it’s a very general format that works.
Things to avoid
We now know that the personal statement format is fluid, but there are some things to avoid when thinking about how to write a personal statement:
- Profanity, explicit content, or crude language.
- Lying or misinterpreting events. Keep it authentic.
- Sharing overly personal descriptions of troubling life experiences. Remember that applying to college requires professional boundaries.
- Writing a narrative that revolves around others. The personal statement is all about you and your experiences.
If you want to know what a bad personal statement example would look like, imagine one that includes any of the formerly listed items. You don’t want to catch an admissions officer’s attention for the wrong reasons. Good personal statement examples will be engaging, but inoffensive. Check out some more do’s and don’ts when it comes to how to write a personal statement.
When pondering “how to write a personal statement,” it’s good to know that you don’t need to follow conventional essay guidelines. The best personal statement examples will exude passion and professionalism, while a bad personal statement example will lack soul. If you’re excited about a topic, then that’s a great place to start! Now, let’s get into the actual writing.
How do you write a good Personal Statement?
To review, in the first part of this series of three articles on how to write a personal statement we answered the question “What is a personal statement?” We also explained how schools use a student’s personal statement for college to evaluate them. We described the Common App essay as an example of a personal statement for a university. Next, let’s dig into how to write a personal statement, including how to start a personal statement, the best tips for writing a personal statement, and some good personal statement examples and personal essay examples to inspire you.
First, you have probably wondered how to write a personal statement that stands out from the rest. It all comes down to one thing: authenticity. The best personal statement examples and personal essay examples show schools what makes the writer unique, and they are written in an authentic voice. When giving advice about how to write a personal statement, admissions officers say that the best personal statement examples tell them who the student is beyond their coursework and grades. They are personal, and they tell a unique and interesting story.
Considering Personal Statement topics
So, as you think about how to write a personal statement, you may also wonder what the best personal statement topics are. When writing a personal statement, including the Common App essay, you don’t have to share an exciting story about the time you wrestled a wild bear or how you discovered a cure for cancer. For example, in their advice on how to write a personal statement, Wellesley College advises , “Tragedy is not a requirement, reflection and depth are.”
Some of the best personal statement topics focus on insights about common experiences. Begin your brainstorming process by reviewing the list of Common App essay prompts as you think about writing a personal statement, and choose a story that genuinely matters to you. Then, get excited about telling it! Think about writing a personal statement, including the Common App essay and every other personal essay for college, as an opportunity to lean into your quirkiness or to share your unique insights.
What’s more, a good personal statement for a university should be well-written. Consider the advice offered by Purdue Online Writing Lab : “Be specific, write well and correctly, and avoid cliches.” This will take time—writing a good personal statement for a university or a good Common App essay doesn’t happen overnight. The process of writing a personal statement will include multiple sessions between the first phase of brainstorming and the final phase of editing. Be prepared to write and rewrite, and never hesitate to ask for help from an advisor, counselor, parent, or trusted adult. However, remember that your work should always be your own.
Now, let’s discuss how to start a personal statement.
How do you start a personal statement?
So, now you have the basic information on how to write a personal statement, including your Common App essay. Next, you’re probably asking, “But how do you start one?” In this section, we’ll break down the process of exploring personal statement ideas and how to start a personal statement. This information also applies to thinking about how to start a college essay. Then, we’ll discuss how to write a personal statement opening.
Brainstorming is usually the first phase of any writing project to generate personal statement ideas. You may want to read a personal statement example like those here or here for inspiration to help get your personal statement ideas flowing. Next, ask yourself some idea-generating questions : Who have your intellectual influences been? Which careers are you considering and why? What personal goals do you have? As you think about the answers to these typical college essay prompts, jot down personal statement ideas that occur to you. If you’re still feeling stuck, ask a close friend or family member , “What do you think differentiates me?,” or “What are my quirks?”
Pick a topic that excites you
Then, once you have a few good topics for your personal statement, choose one that you feel most excited to write about. Write a draft of your personal statement introduction and see what other ideas occur to you for later parts of your essay. Choose another topic and do the same thing. Don’t feel like these initial drafts need to be perfect—words on the page are always a great start! The goal right now is to decide which personal statement topics you feel most inspired to write about. Which ideas reflect something interesting about you ?
Once you have selected which topic you will focus on for your personal statement, Common App essay, or personal essay for college, think about crafting a strong hook. The opening line (or lines) of the best personal statement examples include a “hook” for the reader, grabbing their attention and making them want to keep reading. For example, you could start with a question, an unusual or surprising statement, or an anecdote that will leave readers wondering what comes next. Whichever approach you select when considering how to start a college essay, make sure to use engaging language and vivid imagery.
Remember, start early and write several drafts .
The personal statement is an opportunity to write about a topic that is important to you and that also reflects your personality . Now, let’s discuss the personal statement format.
How do you format a personal statement?
Different applications may require different approaches to your personal statement format. In some cases, you may copy and paste your personal statement into an application and it will format itself automatically. In other situations, you will need to set up your personal statement format yourself. If this is the case, Times New Roman font, 12-point, with conventional margins and double spacing is a safe personal statement format.
When you are submitting your personal statement or Common App essay through the Common App, you may notice that the Common Application text box only allows formatting for bold, italics, and underlining. Therefore, it’s best to write your personal statement in Google Docs or Word and to write your paragraphs with block formatting (not indented). In addition, using Google Docs or Word will also allow you to easily check spelling and word counts before pasting your personal statement into the Common App.
Editing your Personal Statement
Many students wonder what the editing process for their personal statement for college, including the Common App essay and other personal essays for college, should look like. This varies by student and by essay. But, the best personal statements for a university go through at least several rounds of edits.
Firstly, once you have written the first draft of your personal statement for a university or personal essay for college, take a step back for a few hours or even for a day. Then, return with fresh eyes. Is your narrative well organized? Are there sections that seem unclear, ideas that don’t support your main point, or awkward sentences? You may want to reorder your paragraphs or sentences or delete and rework other elements. Revisit a personal statement example and consider how it is organized for comparison.
Making the cut
In short, don’t be afraid to cut sentences that don’t directly relate to the main focus of the essay or convey some important detail of the story. This will help clarify your narrative. Also, make sure that you have centered your writing around your own experiences—the story should reflect your perspective and insights.
Next, once you are confident that your personal statement is well organized and your main ideas are clear, do another round of detailed editing. Eliminate any typos or repetitive language; make sure you have proper grammar and spelling throughout.
Finally, ask a trusted adult to read your personal statement and provide feedback. Something that you thought was clear may not be to them. Also, ask them how engaging your personal statement is, and if there are sections that seem dry or unimportant. Ask whether your hook is effective, and review tips on how to start a personal statement if necessary. Sometimes feedback can be difficult to hear, but it helps to remember that even professional writers seek input from others. The goal is to create the best personal statement possible!
For more detailed advice on revising your personal statement, check out this CollegeAdvisor personal statement webinar, “ Revising the Personal Statement .”
How do I know when my personal statement is done?
There’s no definitive way to know when your personal statement for a university is done—you can keep editing most writing forever. However, as you revise and edit, you’ll notice that you have fewer things to fix with every new draft. Once you feel like there’s nothing major left to change, get feedback from someone you trust.
Your College Advisor expert can also provide valuable feedback and guidance at this point. If the notes and suggestions from others are also limited, you may be nearly ready to finalize your personal statement for college and press “submit.”
6 Tips for Writing a Great Personal Statement
1. be authentic.
Remember, admissions officers want to know about you —your personality, your interests, your goals. A great personal statement is personal . Your personal statement for a university needs to express your unique ideas and insights in your own voice. Nobody can tell your story better than you. So, choose a topic that interests you and let your energy and ideas shine through.
Being personal also means that you should share sensory details and your internal dialogue. What did you see or hear at a critical moment? What were you thinking or feeling during that pivotal conversation? The more personal details you share, the more interesting your personal statement will be.
2. Start early
This is one of the most important tips on how to write a personal statement. You can start brainstorming topics for your personal statement at any time during high school. Some students keep a notebook where they write down personal statement topics and ideas as they occur to them over time. They also begin reading other good personal statement examples and Common App essays for inspiration.
Regardless, a good plan is to solidify a draft of your personal statement for college the summer before your senior year. This will give you time to work on supplemental essays and other parts of your applications during the fall of your senior year.
3. Brainstorm before you write
Take some time to think and reflect deeply before you begin writing. Don’t feel like you need to jump into a full essay draft as soon as you complete your junior year. Do some writing exercises and brainstorming activities first, including reading other personal statement examples.
In each personal statement example you read, pay close attention to the personal statement introduction, the narrative arc, and the conclusion. Did the writer incorporate an effective technique for how to start a college essay? Why is the essay interesting? What does it tell you about the writer?
4. Tell a story
Keep in mind that well-told stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. They also engage the reader and arrive at a clear message or point by the end. In short, the best personal statement examples follow a narrative arc.
Start with an interesting hook and use it as an introduction to a story from your life that addresses the given college essay prompt. Then, use the latter half of your personal statement or Common App essay to show why this story matters and how it reveals a key part of your identity. And always remember: show, don’t tell.
5. Avoid common mistakes
Steer clear of cliches in your writing—they do not help you stand out or demonstrate strong writing skills. Also, do not use your personal statement or Common App essay as an opportunity to rehash your activities or achievements. Remember, these are included in other parts of your application.
The best personal statement examples show admission officers something about the writer that is not reflected in other parts of the application. They describe first-hand experiences and provide specific examples to illustrate ideas.
6. Edit carefully
Once you’ve written your personal statement for college, look for anything that doesn’t feel right. Eliminate awkward phrasing, delete or replace repeated words and phrases, and work to streamline your language. You might delete entire drafts, and that’s okay! It’s a process, and all the work you do gets you closer to your best work. Also, make sure to ask a few others whom you trust to read your essay and provide suggestions for edits.
Bonus tip: Ask for help
A second set of eyes can make a huge difference. Ask an advisor (like our team at CollegeAdvisor.com), counselor, or parent to look over your work. Don’t let anyone write your sentences for you—instead, use their input to help your voice shine through.
For more great college essay tips on how to write a personal statement and college essays, check out this advice from college admission experts.
Personal Statement- Frequently Asked Questions
Where can i find a good personal statement example.
There are a variety of websites that offer good personal essay examples as models you can use to inspire you. A good place to begin is here , and there are also examples of personal statements in the next article of this series. As you read these examples, take note of the personal statement introduction, as well as how the writer focuses the essay on a specific topic or idea that reflects their personality.
Is it ever too late to change my personal statement?
While it is much better to begin writing your personal statement early, sometimes students decide later in the writing process that they want to rethink the personal statement topic they have chosen. If you find yourself in this position, you will find some helpful advice in this CommonApplicant.com personal statement webinar .
My parents didn’t go to college. How do I explain personal statements and how to write a personal statement to them?
CollegeAdvisor.com has created a special personal statement webinar just for parents. In this webinar, we describe personal statements, the specifics of how to write a great college essay, and other college admissions terms.
I’m a high school junior. What should I be doing now to prepare to write my personal statement and college essays?
First, congratulations on thinking ahead! You can begin by reading “ Common App Essay Overview for Juniors .” Then, your CollegeAdvisor admissions expert can help you begin brainstorming and planning for your college application essays. They can provide you with examples of common college essay prompts, as well as helpful college essay tips. Also, they can provide suggestions on how to start a personal statement and share other resources on how to write a great college essay.
How will college admission officers evaluate my personal statement and college application essay?
Admission officers are looking for personal stories that are well told. How closely each of your college application essays is read will vary depending both on the school and the other components of your application. However, as more schools become test-optional, admission officers say that college essays are becoming even more important in the admissions process. So, as you plan your essays keep in mind that admission officers want to learn about you —your experiences, thoughts, and goals. They also want to see that you have solid writing skills, so make sure that you closely edit your essays before you submit them.
If you would like to hear directly from an admission officer and learn more about how to write a great college essay, including specific advice on how to start a college essay, check out this “ 39 Essay Tips ” article.
How is the personal statement for a university different from the Common App essay and personal essay for college?
The Common App essay asks students to write a personal statement in response to one of seven provided prompts. All types of personal essays for college provide students with an opportunity to introduce themselves to college admission officers on their own terms. For a more detailed description of each of these types of essays, check out the first article in this series, “How to Write a Personal Statement.”
For answers to more frequently asked questions about personal statements for college and college essays, click here .
In the first part of this series discussing how to write a personal statement, we answered the questions “What is a personal statement?” and “How important is the personal statement?” In this second article of the series, we have covered the specifics of how to write a personal statement, including descriptions of the writing phases of the personal statement and personal essay for the college writing process. In the next article, we will examine personal statement examples and highlight key elements of each personal statement example.
Introducing 5 Personal Statement Examples
By this point, you’ve gone from asking, “What is a personal statement?” to knowing how to write a personal statement. Now, let’s look at some personal statement examples. Reading personal statement examples is great preparation for writing your own personal statement for college.
However, keep in mind that reading about how to write a personal statement is one thing–writing a personal statement is entirely different. By reading these personal statement examples and why they worked, you’ll have a better grasp of how to write a personal statement.
Each of these personal statement examples shows something that isn’t clear in the rest of the application. Top schools accepted all the writers of these personal statement examples. Our guide will walk you through each of these personal essay examples and discuss what makes them work. We hope by reading these, you can learn more about how to write a personal statement.
Personal Statement Example #1: Choosing a Great Topic
The first of our personal statement examples was written by a student who was accepted to Yale, Princeton, and other top schools. Their personal statement discusses the legacy of antisemitic violence in their family. While political and religious topics can be difficult, this student writes a fantastic college application essay about their topic.
Across the ocean, there is war. Children mistaking rockets for fireworks, parents too protective—too careful—to correct them. Back home, there are phone calls. To family, to friends. In English, in Hebrew. “Are you safe?” I pray they live far from Jerusalem. Right here, in my room, there is turmoil. Furiously swiping through Instagram, I wonder who will betray me next. I wonder which friend will decide that their loosely related, offensive commentary belongs on their profile. Once the deed is done, I am quick to unfollow. To cut off perpetrators of what Jewish journalists call “the Social Media Pogrom”: when targeting the Jewish people online turns to real antisemitic violence (and a powerful reason to unfollow my friends). So I flee from my friends’ Instagram accounts. But only because my family fled from much worse. My grandfather found himself wearing a yellow star, living in a ghetto, and losing everything to the Nazis. One day, he ripped off the star and ran. Even though it meant never seeing his family again. He did not flee for a better life; he fled for any life. His son came to marry another refugee: my mother. Her story is a familiar one, shared by many in my hometown: escaping yet another antisemitic regime whose existence threatened her own, my mother fled Revolutionary Iran in 1979. Fortunately, she was reunited years later with all eight of her siblings, who had escaped in various other creative, illegal ways—“on camelback” being a personal favorite. To this day, she bears a scar on her eyelid from antisemitic violence back home. My family tree’s roots are settled in the soil of persecution. Swastikas have sawed away at its structure, and Revolutionary Guards have bent its branches. I know too well which winds will threaten the leaves: words wishing my people death, implicitly or explicitly. Calling on my cousins to evacuate their homes, for they are on the Jewish side of the land dispute. Denying the reality that no one deserves to be displaced. When I hear these words, see them on a screen, I sense a chillingly familiar breeze. Sometimes, the breeze blows away a few leaves: a rabbi is stabbed, a synagogue vandalized. Suddenly my friends, teetering on the edge of antisemitism with waves of painful posts, are no longer my friends. They are my enemies. But then I hear a little voice: “David, what on Earth are you doing?” And I remember that they are not. They are not Nazis or Revolutionary Guards. I should not shun them or cease to show them love. I cannot wallow in my rage or simply “unfollow”—not on Instagram, not in life. I soon return those beloved friends to my circle. I “follow” them once again. Because dialogue is my lifestyle. I ought to be recruiting my friends to Model Congress or engaging them in class. Welcoming the people around me to a world of positive, exciting, and purposeful discourse is the best I can do. It’s also who I am. My family passed down a sensitive radar for harmful rhetoric, but also gifted me with a powerful belief—a Jewish belief—in informed discussion and coexistence. Holding no hate in their hearts, my ancestors wore lenses of love that did not belong to their oppressors. Today, I wear those same lenses with pride. Once infuriating Instagram posts no longer cloud my vision. I’ve instead fallen in love with the precious diversity of thought that surrounds me and find myself most at home when I am immersed in political dialogue. I will face many “enemy” opinions, but I will not shut my eyes and cover my ears, give up a dear human connection, and miss out on a meaningful experience. I will approach individuals with humanity rather than animosity, acceptance rather than judgement, and love rather than hate. I will live by the lessons of my ancestors.
What did this Common App essay do well? Firstly, it covers a great topic. This student writes about their family’s experience with antisemitic violence and its legacy in their life today. When writing a personal statement for college, such sensitive personal statement topics can be challenging. In this case, the writer successfully centers their experiences and thoughts rather than on controversial events.
Moreover, they cut through political tension with a core reality rooted in empathy: “No one deserves to be displaced.” This is a great strategy if you’re wondering how to write a personal statement on a sensitive topic. All personal statement topics have an angle that makes them universally relatable. If your personal essay for college is missing something, try an empathetic approach.
Ask for help revising
Don’t forget to ask other people to revise your personal statement for university. What makes sense to you may not read well to others. Especially with sensitive topics, share your work with someone you can trust to give you feedback. If possible, also include a non-family member like a teacher or guidance counselor who knows how to write a personal statement.
This student connects their family’s troubles with their own worldview. Good personal statement examples offer a look at the author as a person. A strong topic lets you reflect on how your experiences have impacted your engagement with the world and other people. And as shown above, the writer chose a great topic –not necessarily a great college essay prompt. College essay prompts are wide-ranging , and good personal statement ideas can come from any of them. Indeed, whatever your prompt is, personal essay examples are ultimately about you .
Evocative language and imagery
With this in mind, look at how the writer’s attitude changes throughout their Common App essay. Good personal statement examples contain precise, evocative language and imagery. When you’re writing a personal statement, find the right words—not necessarily the longest ones—and sentence structures you need. This personal statement begins in a panic; the writer “furiously swiping” in the “turmoil” of their room, keenly attuned to betrayal from friends. These words and the short paragraphs bring each thought into sharp focus.
The writer’s passion for their subject shows through their language. Using structural repetition in “Wishing…. Calling…. Denying…” establishes a serious tone and keeps the personal statement fresh. In the latter half, words like “beloved,” “lenses of love,” and “precious diversity” signify a shift to a gentle, loving attitude. The best personal essay examples choose their words precisely. By choosing words carefully in combination with poetic and rhetorical devices, you can write a stellar personal statement for university.
Certainly, family histories can be great personal statement topics. Even so, suffering doesn’t automatically make a strong personal statement for university. If you know how to write a personal statement, even at first mundane personal statement ideas can become good personal statement examples.
Personal Statement Example #2: Finding a Great Hook
The second of our personal statement examples is by a student who was accepted to UC San Diego, Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, and more. In their personal statement for college, this student uses their interest in Rubik’s cubes to frame other parts of their life.
My life is as simple as a Rubik’s Cube: a child’s toy that can be solved in 20 moves or less IF and only if enough knowledge is gained. I received one on my 9th birthday and over the following months, I became obsessed with it. I rotated the rows aimlessly, hoping that eventually the cube would solve itself. I was naive about the complexity of the cube which led me to apply some research. I began looking up tutorials on YouTube about solving the toy and was in awe over the amount of work that had to be done. I forced myself to go step by step until I could arrange a single face, and my progress pushed me forward until I could solve 4 of the 6 faces of the cube. Every night for an hour I would randomize the colors again and work my way back to ⅔ of the cube being complete. Until this point, I lacked the confidence in my everyday life and had never aimed for a difficult goal, especially one without external motivation. However, what I love about solving the cube is that you can follow the steps perfectly and still run into a stalemate based on the arrangement of the squares. This forces you to randomize the cube again and start from step 1. All the hard work and time put into this object can be useless, but it is unavoidable no matter what you do. Multiple times I faced this dilemma of running into a wall, but instead of giving up, my will pushed me forward. I shed many tears over my failures to solve a child’s toy. I needed to push through these failures until I could learn how to arrange the last faces of the cube. And just like that, it was complete! The Rubik’s Cube was arranged correctly. However, I wanted to get faster. I was inspired by the greatest, the individuals who could solve cubes within 5 seconds, and mix up the cube once more. I tried over and over until the point of obsession where I could get the cube arranged in under a minute. Sometimes it is necessary to disarrange a completed face of the cube in order to achieve the end goal of every face being complete. The colors of a cube can be compared to my academics, my athletics, my art, my leadership, my hobbies, and my family life. Though it is a struggle to juggle all these tasks, it is the desire to expand in all these subjects that pushes me forward. I want to learn more and master subjects within my academics, improve my form and get faster within my athletics, grow my skills of digital design within art, become a stronger role model as a leader, volunteer more within my hobbies, and get closer to supporting my family. This mindset will continue to push me to expand my present knowledge and learn new concepts in order to complete my goals. 43,252,003,274,489,856,000: That is how many combinations there are for a single 3×3 Rubik’s cube, and there are probably even more combinations ahead of me in my journey through college and beyond. I have to struggle to learn how to solve my cube and put in the hard work in order to succeed at this game of life. Once I finish school and solve my cube for the first time, the game is not over. The next steps are to refine my work and ethics until I can get the process of solving my own cube down to 20 moves or less. My life goal is to carve a name for myself among the best and the brightest in the surgical field, yet there is always more knowledge to obtain which will drive me to continue growing.
Take a look at that hook! The classic personal statement format begins with a hook to draw the reader into a story, and this is no different. This personal statement introduction, “My life is as simple as a Rubik’s cube”, is bold, even seemingly contradictory, until you read the rest of the sentence. Either way, it makes you want to keep reading this personal statement example.
The worst thing a personal statement for a university can be is boring. A good hook starts your reader off on the right foot. While many personal statement examples begin in the middle of a story, making a bold claim is also common. If you’re wondering how to start a personal statement, start thinking about what opening sentence would grab your attention.
Like the first essay’s writer, this student also uses descriptive language to bring their Common App essay to life. They didn’t simply try the Rubik’s cube, but they “rotated the rows aimlessly”. Rather than saying they kept working on the cube, the writer shows us how they scrambled and resolved it every night. When writing a personal statement, do your own experiences justice with the right descriptive language .
Thinking about tone
You may notice the tone of this personal essay example is very different from the first– intensity isn’t everything! In fact, it’s a reflection of the different subject matter of these personal essay examples. When writing your personal statement, your tone should match what you are trying to say. In the same way that one word can make a sentence, another can totally break it.
From a vivid description of their childhood, the writer expands the scope of their Common App essay to other areas of their life. Good personal statement examples explore subjects that other parts of your application don’t. In this case, this student uses the Rubik’s cube to represent their varied activities and their aspirations for each. They also reflect on life lessons and personal traits: perseverance, ambition, and curiosity.
In other words, the writer creates parallels between their interest in Rubik’s cubes and their personal journey. In the same way that they obsess over speed-solving, the writer works to excel in other subjects. Furthermore, the writer shows us this instead of directly telling — a maneuver fundamental to all good personal statement examples. The writer makes a compelling case as not only an applicant but also as a future member of the campus community.
Notice the chronological structure this student uses for their Common App essay. Specifically, see how it follows the writer’s life from their first Rubik’s cube to the present day. This is a simple way to craft a strong Common App essay. Personal essay examples like this make it easy to reflect on your growth, which is crucial for any personal statement for college. Lastly, by ending with the 20 moves needed to solve a cube, the writer neatly ties up this personal statement example.
Personal Statement Example #3: The Value of a Great Ending
The third of our personal statement examples is by a student who got into the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Southern California. The writer talks about how being on the swim team helped them cultivate confidence.
When I joined the high school swim team, I never expected to go to school dressed as Shrek. Yet as Freshman Friday approached, I learned it was team tradition for upperclassmen swimmers to dress freshmen teammates in ridiculous costumes. Against my will, my teammates splotched green paint on my face, styled my hair into pigtails covered in green paper, and stuffed a pillow under my sweatshirt. Attending my classes was mortifying. With every stare, I buried my head further into my textbook and shifted my hand to cover my green and now bright red face; with every chuckle, I sank deeper into my seat, attempting to hide my massive pillow stomach. The frown on my face felt like a permanent fixture, and after dealing with the humiliation for a class period, I was done. I yanked the pillow out of my sweatshirt and ripped the paper from my hair. The only hint of swamp ogre that remained was the green face paint. When confronted about my lack of Shrek-ness at the end of the day, I claimed I was overheating and that the paper had fallen apart. I lied. I was just embarrassed. I always knew I was shy — the “too-timid-to-signal-the-waiter” type of shy — but until Freshman Friday, I hadn’t realized the extent to which it affected the social and academic aspects of my life. Ever since I was young, my jaw would clench at the thought of humiliating myself by deviating from the norm and bringing attention to myself. I often closed myself off from friends by diverting conversations to trivial topics like gym class when they probed me about deeper subjects like my mental health. I even avoided participating in class by scouring Google for hours for physics help to circumvent admitting to my classmates that I was confused by asking questions. By hiding in the shadows to avoid embarrassment, I hindered my ability to cherish the humor in being Shrek, and, more broadly, my comfort in freely expressing myself. However, I loved swimming and wanted to make my high school team’s environment as wonderful for me as my love for the sport. I slowly started creeping out of my shell, meeting the team, and participating in more voluntary dress-up days. Freshman year, I wore a dragon onesie on pajama day; sophomore year, I wore a Hawaiian shirt, a lei, and sunscreen for tacky tourist day. Junior year, I wore my swimsuit over leggings, goggles, medals, pigtails with award ribbons, and a towel cape, finally surpassing the ridiculousness of the Shrek costume. For the first time, I finally felt confident enough to prance around the school, laughing about my costume with my classmates. I felt like a true part of my team, joking with teammates, taking pictures, and letting the whole school know that I swam. With each year and its dress-up days, I gradually felt more of the sense of community, team spirit, and fun that I had craved. Dressing up unleashed my confidence. This, in turn, made me happier and more involved in my school community. Most surprisingly, though, was how dressing up eventually better prepared me to enter engineering. Hispanic women are severely underrepresented in engineering, so I used to fear that I would be incapable of establishing a strong enough presence and earning my peers’ respect for my ideas. However, with every group discussion I initiated, every question I asked, and every club meeting I hosted, I saw myself making a place for my input and noticed that my teachers and peers actually valued it. I realized that I had found my voice and even enjoyed sharing my opinions. I’m now ready to take on the challenge of expressing my thoughts in a male-dominated field. In the meantime, I’m just looking forward to my swim team’s next dress-up day.
Like our last essay, this personal statement has an awesome hook. In fact, the writer drops us right into the action. This technique, known as in media res , is great for a Common App essay. You can immediately set the scene for your reader, then build context from there. Not only does the writer bring us right in, but they also expertly use language for tone. “Ridiculous,” “against my will,” and “splotched” all illustrate the writer’s opposition to what’s about to happen. This is an effective technique in personal statement examples.
Following the anecdote, the writer reflects on their intense shyness. They show self-awareness by recounting specific instances where fear got the better of them. Yet again, we can see the importance of showing rather than telling in a personal statement. Each sentence provides an example of how the writer’s shyness had a negative impact on their social and academic success. Thus, we see the true conflict in this personal statement isn’t the costume, but the writer overcoming their lifelong shyness.
Personal growth and development
Ask anyone how to write a personal statement and they’ll tell you about growth. When writing a personal statement for university, demonstrating personal growth and an ability to reflect on it is key. Across college essay prompts, you should explore how your experiences have shaped or changed you. Being able to indicate specific causes and effects is part of all good personal statement examples.
From there, the writer clearly illustrates their journey from insecurity to confidence. They show us the ways that their shyness manifested before. Then, the writer shows us the increasingly ridiculous costumes they wore. Of course, the language changes, too—the writer goes from “creeping” to “prancing”! Yet another example of how small changes to wording can have a huge impact on your personal statement for college.
Finally, the writer provides a sound conclusion. They mention the numerous benefits of their newfound confidence and, more importantly, look forward. In the final paragraph, the writer takes the lessons they’ve learned and discusses how they will use them to accomplish their goals. Like both of the personal essay examples we’ve already seen, the writer closes by talking about the doors they want to open.
Circling back to your hook
We saw the effectiveness of linking the hook and closing paragraph in previous personal statement examples. Similarly, this personal statement example ends with the idea of dress-up day once again. This kind of personal statement format helps bring everything full circle. In learning about how to write a personal statement, the conclusion is one of the most important parts. Especially in chronologically structured personal statements, closing the loop in this way makes your personal statement feel complete .
The best personal statement examples have a well-written conclusion. Taking your personal statement ideas and addressing them neatly in the conclusion is important. Whether you explain particular future goals or simply affirm your personal values, you should have a future-facing closer. Colleges want to know not only how you’ve grown, but also how you will bring that growth to campus.
Personal Statement Example #4: Why This Essay Worked
Fourth on our list of personal statement examples is by a writer who applied to performing arts programs. This student wrote about their love for the performing arts and their heritage. They were accepted to schools like NYU Tisch, Point Park, and Roosevelt University. Look for the college essay tips we already mentioned in the personal statement below.
At six years old, most kids I know get excited to help Blue find clues or recite Elmo’s songs on Sesame Street. So you can imagine my family’s surprise when they saw me ignoring the other kids to go belt alongside my grandfather’s mariachi trio in the backyard. Growing up, I had always loved performing for people. But my passion for performing in front of a packed house never compared to performing for my favorite audience: my great grandmother. From age seven to twelve, my dad would take our family on a three-hour road trip to visit my great grandmother’s nursing home every single weekend. I remember the clean, antiseptic smell, and the beeping of her oxygen concentrator as I perched myself next to her bed and sang all types of songs from romantic boleros to earwormy Disney tunes. Even as she began failing to recognize her loved ones due to her worsening Alzheimer’s, she would always remember me, her “palomita blanca,” or white dove. But as I got older, singing what once were innocent songs, like “Edelweiss” or “Almost There,” started to make me feel like an imposter. I knew I belonged on stage, but I never saw any Mexican representation in any of my favorite musicals and animated cartoons. By seventh grade, I was plucking away at my full eyebrows for community theatre the night before auditions because I was told it would give me a better chance at landing a lead role. When my great grandmother passed away, I had lost the person who constantly reminded me how powerful staying true to your identity is. Without her, I questioned whether I had a chance at pursuing the thing that lights my soul aflame. But I stuck through the late nights, sprained ankles, and endless sweating under stage lights, because I loved theatre more than anything else in the world. In my freshman year, I joined the Conservatory of the Arts program for dance and drama at my high school. After my first show, I remember feeling so comforted by the fact that I finally felt that I belonged in the theatre kid community. In sophomore year, I finally got my first lead role as Gertrude in my high school’s production of Seussical. At last! All of my hard work had paid off and I was going to be a lead after six years of ensembles. I was so excited to get the chance to show myself and the world that my identity was my power. I didn’t want to be any old Gertrude. I’d stay up until 2 a.m. on weekends coming up with ways to make her more memorable. Inspired by Juan Gabriel’s emotional ballads, I added vocal cry to Gertrude’s solos to better portray her insecurities. Instead of sticking to just belting in “All For You,” I sang runs similar to the high energy mariachi songs I grew up with to show off my character’s passion and newfound confidence. But in March 2020, the world stopped, and the show couldn’t go on. Distanced learning made the performing arts programs nowhere near as fun or educational as they used to be. Still though, as president of the drama program in 2021, I am determined to rebuild a community that was torn apart by a worldwide pandemic. I want to be the mentor I never had. My confidence in my identity has been an important tool in teaching others that practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress. I work hard encouraging others not to be afraid to show the world what they have. Musical theatre is an art that thrives with innovation, so I’d like to bring the creative spice which my culture has enriched me with to the world’s stage. Maybe someday I can be that actress on stage or TV that’ll get a little Latina girl enthralled by the arts.
In this personal essay example, the writer uses vivid storytelling to show how they became the person they are today. Firstly, the hook tells us how the writer values both performance and her family. This light, fun personal statement introduction quickly goes for the heartstrings by introducing the writer’s great-grandmother. Personal statement examples sometimes avoid talking about family, because it’s easy to lose focus on the writer. But this writer never loses sight of their own memories, emotions, and experiences.
Equally important, those experiences are well-illustrated with rich imagery that clearly conveys the writer’s passion for their topic. Details like the smell and sound of the nursing home bring us into the moment. The writer also provides some examples of what they endured in theatre: “late nights” and “sprained ankles.” Use concrete images to get your personal statement ideas across with impact .
Also, the writer makes a point to explore the intersections of their Hispanic heritage and their passion for theatre. Particularly, the writer discusses their difficulty in putting them together, as shown by plucking their eyebrows. By establishing this conflict in the middle of her personal statement, the writer indicates their awareness of the wider world and their place in it. Many good personal statement examples will create context like this, showing the author thinking beyond themselves.
Show commitment to your topic
Broadly, the writer discusses their twin passions with powerful language and imagery. Exhibiting genuine enthusiasm for your personal statement topics is key. This personal statement shows that the writer has always been moved by their family and by the arts. Their triumph in combining the two feels huge precisely because we understand how much each of these things mean to them. Even if your personal statement topics aren’t as deep-seeded as this writer’s, you should show commitment to what you’re writing about.
If you’re reading this, COVID probably disrupted your school life at some point, as it did for this student. However, be careful not to linger on it more than necessary. This writer doesn’t completely gloss over the pandemic, but they keep their own journey at the center of the personal statement. The writer’s experience with distanced learning propelled them forward. Ideally, your personal statement for the university should keep a tight focus on you. The narrative personal statement format should show not only your experiences but also what you’ve learned from them.
Personal Statement Example #5: Pulling It All Together
The fifth and last of our personal statement examples is by another student who got into several top schools. They write about their participation and leadership at a club event. Keep an eye out for all the tips we’ve mentioned, from a good hook to showing-not-telling.
One hundred and fifty bagels, all completely frozen. I couldn’t believe it. My school’s Model UN Conference was to start in thirty minutes, and breakfast for the delegates was nowhere near ready. I looked with dismay at my friends’ concerned faces peering out from behind piles of frozen bagels. As Secretary-General, it was my job to ensure that this conference went smoothly. However, it seemed that was not going to be the case. I took a moment to weigh my options before instructing Hannah, our “logistics coordinator,” to heat up the frozen circles of doom in the home-ec room. I knew Hannah enjoyed baking, so I trusted her to find a way into the locked room and thaw the assortment of bagels. Cold bagels were not the only thing weighing heavily on my mind that morning. As I walked from classroom to classroom helping set up committees, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. Our conference wasn’t going to be like those of the private schools- there were no engraved pens or stylish water bottles. Instead, people got post-it notes and whatever pens we could steal from the supply closet. Forcing myself to stop worrying, I chose instead to think of why we made that choice. Since most of the food was donated, and all of the supplies had been “borrowed” from the supply closet, we could afford to charge only a nominal fee to everyone attending. Making Model UN accessible was one of my top priorities as Secretary-General; the same desire motivated me to begin including middle school students in the club. I hurried back down to the cafeteria, and was relieved to see that all the bagels looked warm and ready to eat. The bagels would not be the sole crisis that day. As debates were about to start, one of the Chairs sent me a panic stricken text: “We only have 5 people in our committee! We can’t reenact the creation of the Treaty of Versailles!” I hurried to where his debate was taking place, and sure enough, only five people were there. I quickly considered my options- cancel the committee? Convince some delegates to switch into this debate through bagel bribery? Or maybe, come up with a completely new topic? I settled on idea number three. But what topic could a committee of only five people spend a day discussing? I mulled it over until an idea began to form. I explained to the room, “Each one of you will represent one of the five major Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. The chair will guide you as you tweet, make campaign videos, and debate the most important political issues.” I spent a few minutes figuring out how to go about moderating such an unconventional committee, before heading off to check in on the other debates. As I walked from committee to committee, fixing problems and helping move debates along, I felt a sense of pride. I had spent months working on this conference, along with the other members of my team. At times, I worried I could never pull it off. A part of me had wished our faculty advisor would just organize the whole thing for us. After all, I’m just a high schooler, how could I put together such a big event? But as the day went by, I realized that with the help of my peers, I had done it. All the little crises that cropped up weren’t because I was doing a bad job; they were inevitable. The fact that I could find solutions to such a wide variety of problems was a testament to my leadership skills, and my level-headedness. I didn’t just feel like a leader—I felt like an adult. As I look towards my future in college and later the workforce, I know that I can succeed, even if my obstacles seem as insurmountable as a mountain of frozen bagels.
This writer has a great example of how to start a college essay. Their strong hook makes us curious – why are there so many? What’s going on, and can the writer fix it? The essay’s tone is clear from the outset, and we’re drawn in by the conflict. Moreover, the writer establishes themselves as a leader and problem-solver.
Like a short story character, this writer encounters various obstacles. Throughout this personal statement, the writer shows off their resourcefulness, leadership skills, and quick thinking. While other people are in this personal statement example, the focus never wavers from the writer’s thoughts and actions. Additionally, the writer details the thought process behind each of their solutions.
As we’ve mentioned, a good personal statement for a university shows information, rather than telling it. This writer walks through various aspects of the conference in the second paragraph, then explains their reasoning. Instead of just saying they wanted to make the conference accessible, the writer shows us how they made it possible by organizing food donations and only charging a small fee. This Common App essay shows us what the writer is like through actions as well as words.
A narrative of learning and growth
As with our other personal statement examples, the writer wraps up with a strong conclusion that recalls the hook. They recount their personal growth throughout this process. In addition, the writer elaborates on the lessons they have taken from this experience. As shown above, introspection on personal growth and values is part of any good personal essay for college. This Common App essay makes a solid case for its writer as a future student and community member.
In sum, this writer takes a seemingly insignificant anecdote and uses it to reveal something critical about their experiences. By highlighting particular, telling moments, the writer shows us their personality and capability. What’s more, by using engaging language and a clear structure, the writer makes a lasting impact on the reader. For these reasons, this is a superb example of a personal statement for college.
CollegeAdvisor Resources on Writing a Great Personal Statement
By now, you’ve seen several personal statement examples and confidently say you know how to write a personal statement. But maybe you feel you need a little more information. A good personal statement for college starts with early preparation. Getting a head start on writing your personal essay for college is a great idea.
We at CollegeAdvisor have no shortage of guides on how to write a personal statement. We’ve got quick college essay tips from our admissions experts . If you have some more time, here are some frequently asked questions answered by an Admissions Officer. If you’re more of a watcher than a reader, check out a personal statement webinar from CollegeAdvisor.
How to Write a Personal Statement: Final Thoughts
You made it to the end! Now you know how to write a great college essay. Let’s briefly recap what we covered in this “How to Write a Personal Statement” guide.
Firstly, we answered the question, “What is a personal statement?” We outlined the expected length, personal statement format, and how important they are in the application process. Then, we explored some of the most common and effective personal statement topics.
Next, we looked at how to write a personal statement. We gave advice and tips on drafting, editing, and finalizing your personal essay for college. Specifically, we talked about the value of strong hooks, your unique voice, and editing.
Finally, we reviewed five personal statement examples and discussed what made them work. Each of our personal essay examples had effective language, structure, and other techniques that may inspire your writing.
Still a little stuck on how to write a personal statement for college? Aside from college essay tips and personal statement webinars, CollegeAdvisor also offers one-on-one support. We have hundreds of Admissions Experts and former Admissions Officers available to support you. Our Admissions Experts can work with you to help you craft a college application essay that highlights your potential.
This guide was written by Sarah Kaminski , Lori Dunlap , and Gina Goosby . No matter what stage you are at in your college search, CollegeAdvisor.com is here to help. We’ve created a wide range of guides, to help you navigate the college admissions process from building your school list all the way to packing for your freshman fall. For more specialized guidance on writing a personal statement, click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.
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How to write a personal statement for college.
Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University
Are you struggling to write your college personal statement? Well, you’re in luck! Read on for our complete guide on how to write a strong personal statement for college.
Writing a personal statement can feel like a daunting task. Most students have difficulty framing themselves the “right” way–and we get it! It’s not always easy to talk about yourself. With that said, how do you write a compelling personal statement?
In this guide, we’ll go over how to write the perfect personal statement, from what colleges look for in the essay to successful examples. If you still have questions by the end, you can always set up a free consultation with one of our admissions experts to kickstart your college application.
Let’s get started!
What is a Personal Statement?
A personal statement is a college admissions essay. It allows students the opportunity to share information about themselves that goes beyond what admissions committees have already seen in other application materials (transcripts, resume, etc.)
This is your chance to show colleges your personality, your strengths, and what matters most to you. Generally speaking, there are two types of personal statements:
A general personal statement is an open-ended essay with very few constraints, sometimes with no prompt or word count. While this type of personal statement allows you to write about whatever you want, it should still tell admissions committees about you. General or open-ended personal statements are common in medical or law school applications.
A response personal statement is an essay answering a specific question. These questions will guide your writing but are usually geared towards getting to know who you are. For example, you may be asked “What matters most to you, and why?” or “How have your life experiences led you to your current interests or goals?”
Even if there is no prompt, these are the sort of questions you should answer in your personal statement. Think about a story, a moment, or a lifestyle change that has shaped who you are today and makes you passionate about your current educational goals and future career goals.
Why Do Colleges Ask for a Personal Statement?
Colleges ask for personal statements and essays to get to know the person behind the numbers. By the time the admissions committee reads your essay, they’ll already know your grades, achievements, awards, and other qualifications. Essays humanize candidates, allowing you to express yourself and your passion.
Your personal statement can give you a competitive edge against other candidates if it does a good job of standing out and is authentic. When brainstorming topics for your personal statement, you should think about unique experiences you’ve had that have shaped who you are. Avoid clichés like famous quotes; this is the time to give your unique perspective.
What Should a Personal Statement for College Include?
Before getting started, it’s essential to make sure you include all the necessary information you want admissions committees to know. Your personal statement should answer the following questions:
- What is something unique in your life that has shaped you into who you are today? (think about your culture, heritage, hometown, health, family traditions, hobbies, etc.)
- What event first sparked your interest in the school/major you are applying for?
- What have you learned about your field of interest so far, and what more do you hope to learn during your degree? (It’s a good idea to do school research to best answer this question)
- Have you experienced any unique challenges in your life? If so, how have you overcome them?
- Are there any academic discrepancies on your resume that require an explanation? (Low GPA during one year, a low test score, a gap in your resume, etc.)
- How do you specifically intend to contribute to your field of interest in the future? (what are your goals, and how will you achieve them?)
- How does your unique experience set you up for a successful career as a student and a professional? (think of things you’ve learned, your background and challenges you’ve overcome)
You can answer these questions before you start writing your essay and try to find links to connect them.
Here is a step-by-step breakdown on how to write a personal statement for college as recommended by our experts .
Step 1: Brainstorm
Before you start writing, it’s essential to brainstorm your ideas. Consider the questions in the above section. What makes you unique? What challenges have you overcome that have made you who you are? Make sure to answer each question in the initial brainstorming process.
If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, you can ask a family member or a friend who knows you well what they think makes you unique. This can help you gather some ideas to craft your story.
Take plenty of time on this step and write down lots of ideas - even silly ones! You may be surprised by what comes to mind when you allow yourself a few days to write everything down. By the time you move on to the next step, you should have at least five story ideas to choose from and several pieces of information you want to include.
Make sure to keep the prompt in mind during this step. The prompt you receive may cancel out some of your ideas right away if they do not align with the question you’ve been asked to answer.
Step 2: Select Your Strongest Ideas
Take a look at your brainstorming notes. Which story from your life compels you the most? Whichever idea gets you excited to write is the one you should choose. When you go with your gut, you’ll have less trouble with the flow of your writing.
The story you choose to write about should have an apparent climax and a compelling takeaway. What did you learn from the experience? How has it shaped your life? This is what the reader should understand by the end of your essay.
Step 3: Write Your Introduction
When you begin writing, your introduction should immediately grab the reader's attention. There are many ways to do so–if you’re feeling lost, you can always refer to these five effective ways to start your college essay .
In summary, avoid clichés and begin with a bang. Your introduction should only be one or two sentences in length before you begin telling your story.
Step 4: Tell Your Story
The story you choose to include should answer the prompt and tell the admissions committee about what makes you a unique and qualified candidate. This is the main chunk of your essay. Make sure your writing is self-reflective, concise, and straightforward.
According to Joyce P. Curll , Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid at Harvard Law School, a good personal statement should be interesting and tell her who the person is. Additionally, she notes:
“The more a (personal) statement conveys how a person thinks, what he or she thinks is important, or other such insights, the better. You should think of the statement as an opportunity to round out pieces to the puzzle that makes up your application. Write about issues or problems you think about and how you have dealt with them. The more personal you can be – the more you can bring in your own background or history – the more valuable the statement can be.”
She continues, “In some of the most successful statements, applicants have reflected on who they are, what they’re all about, and why they have done what they have done, and have left the committee with one or two thoughts about them.”
While your story should be about a unique experience or passion you’ve had, the central theme should be bigger than that. Your takeaway should be an admirable trait you’ve developed throughout the story, or something you’ve learned that has made you a better person and candidate today.
Step 5: End on a High Note
The ending of your college essay is a crucial moment for the reader, so it’s important to spend a lot of time on this section. This is the last thing the admissions officers will read, so it should be memorable and heartwarming. This will tie in how your story has shaped you as a person and what you intend to do in the future.
Including some school-specific research here can be a good idea if there is a specific resource your school offers that will help you achieve a relevant goal. Don’t just throw in a quote or a mission statement here - only mention the school if there’s something specific about your program that you feel really passionate about.
Step 6: Revise, Revise, Revise
Once you’ve completed the writing portion, it is crucial to revise like you’ve never revised before! There should be absolutely no spelling or grammar mistakes, famous quotes, run-on sentences, clichés, or other errors. This is a highly important piece of your college application.
When giving your essay to a partner to revise, show them the following points and ask if they agree:
- Your writing is clear, concise, and straightforward.
- The essay is interesting from the very beginning, with a short yet compelling introduction.
- Your story is easy to follow.
- Your story tells the reader something unique about you.
- The essay has a heartwarming conclusion, in which the main theme of the essay is clear (i.e., what you’ve learned, your goals, character traits).
You should also ask your revision partner what they feel they’ve learned about you in the end, and ask yourself if their takeaway aligns with your original intention. Sometimes the intended message does not always come across the way it does in our heads, so this is an essential final step.
Personal Statement For College Examples
Here are some personal statement examples for college and explanations on why they were successful.
#1. Personal Statement from UChicago
“I fell in love for the first time when I was four. That was the year my mother signed me up for piano lessons. I can still remember touching those bright, ivory keys with reverence, feeling happy and excited that soon I would be playing those tinkling, familiar melodies (which my mother played every day on our boombox) myself.
To my rather naïve surprise, however, instead of setting the score for Für Elise on the piano stand before me, my piano teacher handed me a set of Beginner’s Books. I was to read through the Book of Theory, learn to read the basic notes of the treble and bass clefs, and practice, my palm arched as though an imaginary apple were cupped between my fingers, playing one note at a time. After I had mastered the note of ‘C,’ she promised, I could move on to ‘D.’
It took a few years of theory and repetition before I was presented with my very first full-length classical piece: a sonatina by Muzio Clementi. I practiced the new piece daily, diligently following the written directives of the composer. I hit each staccato note crisply and played each crescendo and every decrescendo dutifully. I performed the piece triumphantly for my teacher and lifted my hands with a flourish as I finished. Instead of clapping, however, my teacher gave me a serious look and took both my hands in hers. ‘Music,’ she said sincerely, ‘is not just technique. It’s not just fingers or memorization. It comes from the heart.’
That was how I discovered passion.
Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn: the arcs and passages of intricate notes are lines of genius printed on paper, but ultimately, it is the musician who coaxes them to life. They are open to artistic and emotional interpretation, and even eight simple bars can inspire well over a dozen different variations. I poured my happiness and my angst into the keys, loving every minute of it. I pictured things, events, and people (some real, some entirely imagined— but all intensely personal) in my mind as I played, and the feelings and melodies flowed easily: frustration into Beethoven’s Sonata Pathétique, wistfulness into Chopin’s nocturnes and waltzes, and sheer joy into Schubert. Practice was no longer a chore; it was a privilege and a delight.
In high school, I began playing the piano for church services. The music director gave me a binder full of 1-2-3 sheet music, in which melodies are written as numbers instead of as notes on a music staff. To make things a bit more interesting for myself—and for the congregation—I took to experimenting, pairing the written melodies with chords and harmonies of my own creation. I rarely played a song the same way twice; the beauty of improvisation, of songwriting, is that it is as much ‘feeling’ as it is logic and theory. Different occasions and different moods yielded different results: sometimes, ‘Listen Quietly’ was clean and beautiful in its simplicity; other times, it became elaborate and nearly classical in its passages. The basic melody and musical key, however, remained the same, even as the embellishments changed. The foundation of good improvisation and songwriting is simple: understanding the musical key in which a song is played—knowing the scale, the chords, the harmonies, and how well (or unwell) they work together—is essential. Songs can be rewritten and reinterpreted as situation permits, but missteps are obvious because the fundamental laws of music and harmony do not change.
Although my formal music education ended when I entered college, the lessons I have learned over the years have remained close and relevant to my life. I have acquired a lifestyle of discipline and internalized the drive for self-improvement. I have gained an appreciation for the complexities and the subtleties of interpretation. I understand the importance of having both a sound foundation and a dedication to constant study. I understand that to possess a passion and personal interest in something, to think for myself, is just as important.”
Why this essay works: This essay is an excellent example of how to demonstrate a unique passion through a compelling story. We learn that the writer has a passion for piano and music, although it is not the main theme of the story.
Through the writer's story, we understand their fundamental characteristics: the writer loves to learn, shows discipline, and understands the value of following through on a commitment. These skills can be applied to any aspect of life and are incredibly valuable.
In summary, the writer demonstrates their unique characteristics and passions while also telling a compelling story that ends with what they have learned. This personal statement is a 10/10 in our books.
#2. Personal Statement from NYU
Prompt: “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”
“In her cramped kitchen, Titi Nana cracked the egg in the center of the pan, the cheeriness of the bright yellow yolk contrasting the harshness of the caldero. In a flourish, she jerked the bottle of alcohol in her hand, flames erupting from the griddle. She instructed me: "Wipe it all off," gesturing to dust off my shoulders and arms into the inferno. I laughed nervously as I removed the maldad [evil] from my body, one brush at a time. I left Titi's apartment that day confused about how our family's practice of Santería [witchcraft] fit in with my outward embrace of my heritage. I felt as if the parts of my Latina identity I claimed openly -- dancing salsa to Celia Cruz or enjoying lechón y arroz con habichuelas en Navidad -- were contradicted by my skepticism towards Titi's rituals. My experience with Santería wasn't new, as proven by my mother's kitchen altar lit dimly by prayer candles and adorned with evil eyes, statues of San Miguel, and offerings to Elegua; however, I'd never before witnessed such a tangible demonstration of my family's ritualistic beliefs. Although it surrounded me, I refused to believe in the effects of Santería... so I shunned it entirely.
Moving to a predominantly white boarding school and away from the rituals my family had passed down, I avoided addressing the distance I had wedged between myself and my background. I pushed away all things Latina as my fear of failing to honor my Puerto Rican heritage intensified. This distance only grew as my classmates jokingly commented on my inability to speak Spanish and my white-passing complexion, further tearing away bits of my Latinidad with each snide remark.
In an effort to build myself back up, I began to practice the small bits of Santería that I comprehended: lighting candles for good luck, placing a chalice of water by my bedside to absorb all maldad, and saying my prayers to San Miguel and my guardian angels each day. To my disbelief, the comments that attacked my Latinidad, or lack thereof, faded along with the aching feeling that I had failed to represent my heritage. As I embraced the rituals that I initially renounced, I finally realized the power in Titi's practices. In all of her cleansing and prayer rituals, she was protecting me and our family, opening the doors for us to achieve our goals and overcome the negativity that once held us back. In realizing the potential of Santería, I shifted my practices to actively protecting myself and others against adversity and employed Santería as a solution for the injustice I witnessed in my community.
Santería once served as my scapegoat; I blamed the discomfort I felt towards black magic for the imposter syndrome festering inside me. Until I embraced Santería, it only served as a reminder that I wasn't Latina enough in the eyes of my peers. Now, I understand that while intangible, ethereal, even, the magic of Santería is real; it's the strength of my belief in myself, in my culture, and in my commitment to protect others.”
Why this essay works : This personal statement essay is in response to a prompt, and the writer has done an excellent job of telling a story related to their cultural background. We get to know more about the writer and their family in this heartwarming story, even learning things we might not have known about Santeria - but that’s not the central theme.
The main theme of this essay is the lesson of self-trust, cultural pride, and self-acceptance. While we are learning about this person's unique identity, the takeaway is that this person has a newfound respect for their identity and has learned to embrace themselves– a skill that, as they mentioned, improved all areas of their life.
#3. Personal Statement from UC Berkeley
“I was a shy thirteen-year-old who had already lived in six locations and attended five schools. Having recently moved, I was relieved when I finally began to develop a new group of friends. However, the days following September 11, 2001, were marked with change. People began to stare at me. Many conversations came to a nervous stop when I walked by. However, it wasn’t until one of my peers asked if I was a terrorist that it really hit me. Osama, my name is Osama. I went from having a unique name that served as a conversation starter to having the same name as the most wanted man in America. The stares and the comments were just the beginning. Eventually I received a death threat at school. I remember crying alone in my room, afraid to tell my parents in fear that they might not let me go to school anymore.
My experience opened my eyes up to racial and religious dynamics in the United States. I started to see how these dynamics drove people’s actions, even if some were not aware of the reasons. The more I looked at my surroundings with a critical eye, the more I realized that my classmates had not threatened me because of hate, but because of fear and ignorance. This realization was extremely empowering. I knew that mirroring their hostility would only reinforce the fear and prejudice they held. Instead, I reached out to my peers with an open mind and respect. My acceptance of others served as a powerful counter example to many negative stereotypes I had to face.With this approach, I was often able to transform fear into acceptance, and acceptance into appreciation. I chose not to hide my heritage or myself, despite the fear of judgment or violence. As a result, I developed a new sense of self-reliance and self-confidence. However, I wasn’t satisfied with the change that I had brought about in my own life. I wanted to empower others as well. My passion for equality and social justice grew because I was determined to use my skills and viewpoint to unite multiple marginalized communities and help foster understanding and appreciation for our differences and similarities alike.
The years following September 11th were a true test of character for me. I learned how to feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations. This allowed me to become a dynamic and outgoing individual. This newfound confidence fueled a passion to become a leader and help uplift multiple minority communities. During the last two summers I made this passion a reality when I took the opportunity to work with underprivileged minority students. All of the students I worked with came from difficult backgrounds and many didn’t feel as though college was an option for them. I learned these students’ goals and aspirations, as well as their obstacles and hardships. I believed in them, and I constantly told them that they would make it. I worked relentlessly to make sure my actions matched my words of encouragement. I went well above the expectations of my job and took the initiative to plan several additional workshops on topics such as public speaking, time management, and confidence building. My extra efforts helped give these students the tools they needed to succeed. One hundred percent of the twenty-one high school juniors I worked with my first summer are now freshmen at four-year universities. I feel great pride in having helped these students achieve this important goal. I know that they will be able to use these tools to continue to succeed.
Inspired by my summer experience, I jumped at the opportunity to take on the position of Diversity Outreach Ambassador for the San Francisco Bar Association Diversity Pipeline Program. In this position, I was responsible for helping organize a campus event that brought educational material and a panel of lawyers to UC Berkeley in order to empower and inform minority students about their opportunities in law school. In this position I was able to unite a diverse group of organizations, including the Black Pre-Law Association, the Latino Pre-Law Society, and the Haas Undergraduate Black Business Association. Working in this position was instrumental in solidifying my desire to attend law school.
The lawyers who volunteered their time had a significant impact on me. I learned that they used their legal education to assist causes and organizations they felt passionate about. One of the lawyers told me that she volunteered her legal services to a Latino advocacy association. Another lawyer explained to me how he donated his legal expertise to advise minority youth on how to overcome legal difficulties. Collaborating with these lawyers gave me a better understanding of how my passion for law could interact with my interest in social justice issues.
My experiences leading minority groups taught me that I need to stand out to lead others and myself to success. I need to be proud of my culture and myself. My experiences after September 11th have taught me to defeat the difficulties in life instead of allowing them to defeat me. Now, whether I am hit with a racial slur or I encounter any obstacles in life, I no longer retreat, but I confront it fearlessly and directly. I expect law school will help give me the tools to continue to unite and work with a diverse group of people. I hope to continue to empower and lead minority communities as we strive towards legal and social equality.”
Why this essay works: Don’t be intimidated by the amount of work experience this writer mentioned in their essay. The reason it worked is the demonstration of vulnerability and the clear future goals they have expressed.
It is admirable that this student took a negative experience from their childhood and turned it into a lifelong career goal. This is an excellent example of taking something that makes you unique, even if you’ve been picked on for it, and turning it into a positive.
The writer's story shows strength, persistence, and compassion. All of which are valuable skills in any field of study. Additionally, mentioning work experience that pertains to the writer's future goal is an excellent way to show how they turn their words into actions.
FAQs: How to Write a Personal Statement for College
Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions concerning how to write a college personal statement.
1. What Should a College Personal Statement Include?
Your college personal statement should include a unique story about you and how it has shaped you into who you are today. Important lessons you’ve learned, qualities you’ve developed over time, and your future goals are all excellent things to include.
The story should highlight your individual qualities, while the main theme should reveal itself at the end.
2. How Do You Start a Personal Statement for College?
Your introduction should be short and enticing. Don’t spend too much time on your introduction; it’s best to start with one or two sentences max to set your story up and grab the reader’s attention immediately.
3. How Do I Make My Personal Statement Stand Out?
Your personal statement should highlight something unique to you. Think about your life experiences, even silly ones, that meant a lot to you growing up and have shaped you into who you are today and who you want to be.
Avoid clichés like famous quotes or general statements. Doing thorough school research can also help your essay stand out.
4. What Should a Personal Statement Format Be?
Each school typically provides guidelines, such as a word count or page limit. Generally speaking, your personal statement should be 2-3 pages in length and can be anywhere between 500-1000 words in length. Sentences should be double spaced, Times New Roman font (or another popular, easy-to-read font), typically in 12-pt.
Your personal statement should be authentic, compelling, and give the reader an excellent idea of what makes you, you . The best personal statements include a punchy introduction, a compelling and unique story about something personal to the writer, and conclude with a lesson learned and a look toward the future.
Don’t be afraid to get personal–it’s a personal statement after all! Just make sure that you end on a high note. Remember, your conclusion is the last thing admissions officers will read, so it should be memorable and impactful. Think of the ending to your favorite movie, except the main character is you. What will the audience take away?
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College Personal Statement Examples and Writing Tips
So, you have started your college application process and are hitting a wall. You got your high school transcripts and letters of recommendation in order. Your SAT scores are on the way. But your college personal statement is sitting there unfinished, and the deadline is coming fast!
But have no fear!
Because Wordvice edits thousands of essays every admissions season, we have seen some of the best (and worst) college application essays out there. This guide will tell you how to write the best personal statement for college possible for your college application. Included are examples of successful college personal statements and analyses.
What we will learn here about writing a personal statement for college:
- What is a college personal statement?
- How important is the personal statement for college admissions?
- Why do colleges require a personal statement?
- Read examples of successful personal statements
- Successful personal statement example & analysis
- Essay editing services can improve your personal statement
Personal Statements and Other College Admissions Essays
Even knowing what specific terms regarding college admissions documents means can be a bit confusing. To clear up any questions, here is a brief rundown of some main college application terms that are often used:
- Personal statement for college — an essay you write to show a college admissions committee who you are and why you deserve to be admitted to their school. It’s worth noting that, unlike “college essay,” this term is used for application essays for graduate school as well.
- College admissions essay— this is essentially the same as a college personal statement. (I’ll be using the terms interchangeably.) It can also include supplemental essays or widely-used essays such as the Common App Essay .
- Essay prompt— a question or statement that your college essay is meant to respond to.
- Supplemental essay— an additional school or program-specific essay beyond the basic personal statement. Some schools require both a supplemental essay and a personal statement. Check your college’s application guidelines to determine which specific admissions essays are necessary for submission.
What is the personal statement for college?
The college personal statement is a key part of the college application and a key factor among admissions committees. It is the one opportunity for high school students applying to college to sell themselves on their own terms and using their own words.
Personal statements for college differ from SAT scores and academic transcripts, which are more standardized. Further, while letters of recommendation touch on many of the same issues as personal statements, they are not written by you but by a recommender.
A focused and effective personal statement for college serves three major functions:
1. Personal statements give broad, comprehensive insights into your personal and academic background.
Ultimately, your academic, personal, and even professional background can be the determining factor in your admission to any college program. But there’s a big difference between a personal statement and resume or CV.
2. It provides college admissions counselors with an accurate overview of your academic goals.
A good college personal statement must explain how your background relates to your university’s program and your goals. It must put in context the tools, resources, and background you bring to the table and how they are aligned with your school’s profile. In the business world, this is called “ vertical alignment .”
In other words, how you write about your background should make you stand out from other college applicants as well as connect with what you want to accomplish. Your background empowers you to succeed!
In admissions essays, small steps can yield big results.
3. Personal statements answer very specific questions.
Often, your college application will require you to apply to a specific program and will ask very specific questions. For example, applying to your university’s business college will require answering different application essay questions than applying to a performing arts program.
So be sure to research not only your target university’s profile but also your specific college major and professors in that department.
We illustrate this exact idea in the two successful personal statement examples below!
How Important is the personal statement for college to admissions officials?
Covid-19 has made the sat/act less important.
Common App announced that it will include a dedicated essay prompt on COVID-19 for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle. As a result, students are scrambling to figure out how to write about COVID-19 in their college admissions essays .
There’s even more evidence that the college personal essay is becoming the most important part of the application process. As CBS News reports :
A growing number of U.S. colleges and universities are abandoning ACT and SAT scores as part of their admissions process. The so-called test-blind movement has gathered steam this year amid widespread cancellations of standardized tests because of COVID-19.
Moreover, a court recently ruled that the University of California public school system can no longer consider SAT/ACT scores in the admissions process . The days of the standardized test may be numbered.
This means that the application essay just got a lot more important.
How to Write a Personal Statement for College to Impress Admissions Officers
Why do college admissions committees rely on college application essays so much? The answer is that a college personal statement sets you apart from your high school peers by explaining three ideas:
Show your personality in your personal statement
College admissions committees rely on your transcripts and GPA as a measure of your academic prowess. Letters of recommendation focus more on how others view you and how you interact.
On the other hand, your college personal statement application essay gives admissions counselors a sense of your personality. It demonstrates how you will fit in as well as contribute to the university community.
Are you hyper-focused and ambitious with a lot of professional experience and projects to back it up? Or are you more curious, with a wide range of interests? Are your motivations related to achieving concrete objectives, or are they more personal or emotional in nature? The lens through which you interact with the world is exactly what your personal statement essay should show.
On paper, your SAT score, GPA, and extracurricular activities may be the same as other applicants. You may end up in the same college classes. College counselors know no two applicants are the same. What matters is that both fit in with what the university wants for its students.
Describe any extenuating circumstances
Are your grades a bit below average? Did you fail a class in high school? Those things jump out when it comes to numbers on paper. Universities want to know the context for abnormal records, and most importantly, how you view them.
As the world continues to become more global and aware of social disparities, the definition of “traditional success” is becoming increasingly irrelevant. It has become standard for U.S. universities to have action plans for the diversity and inclusion of underprivileged students.
Most importantly, colleges want to understand how you struggled and overcame a difficult situation. Those are the exact students they want!
Explain why you are applying to this school
Besides selling your personality and explaining any drawbacks or holes in your record, a great college personal statement should provide insights into why you are applying to university. This may seem obvious, but unfortunately, many students get caught up in proving themselves like a job application. They totally forget to explain why they are applying to college.
How to write about reasons for applying to college:
- Define what part(s) of the university appeal to you. Explain how they align with your personal goals and personality.
- Pick out a couple of unique characteristics of the school. These can be professors, programs of study, or facilities.
Successful College Personal Statement Examples
Now that we know how important a college personal statement is and what it does, what’s the first step?
Success imitates success
At Wordvice, we encourage college applicants to look at successful personal statement examples to really absorb and gain insights into what an engaging personal college essay is. Read as many as you can, as no two students are the same. But you will see many of the themes discussed above again and again in successful college personal statements.
College Personal Statement Examples and Sample Essays
To start, Wordvice is including a couple of successful personal statement essay examples, including comments and feedback provided by our editors to the students. Both of these essays were edited by Wordvice’s professional editors , with both students gaining admission!
Personal Statement Essay #1: The “Holistic Profile” Essay
Dear Sir or Madam, I am writing to express my interest in studying at the University of ________ as a Supply Chain Management student. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my letter. I am currently studying for a bachelor’s degree in Public Finance and Supply Chain Management at ________ University. I have decided to apply to your Supply Chain Management programme because I am sure it would strongly enrich my future studies and help me in my prospective career. Moreover, I consider this programme as a great opportunity to get to know ________ culture and its well-developed logistic background. I am also very curious about the different approaches taken in this field at a prominent university. I have chosen to apply to the University of________ because it examines all types of supply chain management perspectives, from production to services. During my previous studies, I discovered that simply working on procurement is far from enough. My fellow students and I had the opportunity to create an e-commerce project. At the time, the only thing in our control was the procurement decision, but I soon realized I had the capacity and drive to learn more about solutions and innovations. Another reason I am applying for this programme at ________ is its close relationship with relevant companies in my desired field. I learned on the university’s website that there is a specific resource that helps to connect students with these companies. Since I am interested in working in the Netherlands after I graduate, this resource will definitely be useful for my career. In addition, the fact that this programme offers an option to participate in an apprenticeship is very appealing to me. This could not only broaden my horizons through practical experience but also provide a chance for me to expand my connections in the industry. My current undergraduate studies make me highly suitable for this programme. I have learned the basic foundations of supply chain management through courses such as operations management, strategic purchasing, and inventory management. I have also taken mathematics and statistics to help me understand data problems. In addition to my academic interests, I have a full and interesting life off-campus. I was a member of our school volleyball team, which won several championships; this led to me graduating as an honour’s student. Those times spent on the court have strengthened my team spirit and my ability to work under pressure. During summer vacations, I spend time travelling around Europe and the United States. My first experience in Amsterdam was unforgettable, and it made me consider coming back in the future. Planning the trip carefully, and living alone in an unfamiliar area, have turned me into a more independent young woman. Professionally, I have done internships in international companies such as Red Bull and ASUS. These experiences gave me the chance to work in a global context with people from different countries, which has encouraged me to have a more flexible and adaptive mindset. Because of these wonderful experiences, I am certain I will conquer all future challenges and make the most out of them. In conclusion, I am very eager to study Supply Chain Management at the University of ________, as it would give me a chance to deepen my skills and knowledge in one of the field’s top universities. I am confident I excel in this programme due to my solid educational foundation in business and personality strengths. Thank you again for reading my personal statement. I look forward to hearing from you.
Why was this personal statement for college successful?
The essay is well-organized and directly answers key questions.
The applicant clearly lays out her educational and professional background as well as her skills. She also includes two solid paragraphs about why she has chosen her program of study and later explains why she is both qualified and a perfect fit.
This essay displays excellent organization and has a natural flow of ideas indicative of a native English speaker who can write exceptionally well.
The essay is personal and does not feel like a resume or CV
This college applicant came with a very strong academic and professional background. A solid handle on supply chain management (not the most exciting major) with internships to back it up. But notice how she doesn’t dwell on just that? She is able to connect things like her academic math experience with personal motivation. She even includes her extracurricular activities to show she’s more than a number cruncher.
First, she shows that she is a well-rounded person , not just a student that studies for grades. Second, she conveys her well-developed personal identity that has chosen this course of study at this particular college in this particular country. Make sure your college essay communicates this!
The essay specifically targets the school
Every major university has a business school, and every business school has a supply chain management program. How do the college admissions counselors reading her personal statement know she’s motivated to apply there?
This applicant clearly explains how she personally wants to attend this particular university in The Netherlands. She lists her personal travel experience and mentions a specific mentorship program.
Personal Statement Essay #2: The “Enthusiastic Achiever” Essay
I am passionate about computers because technology will continue to play a fundamental role in our lives. Based on this fact, I researched colleges that have both a strong computer science program and co-op program, and this is when I found Hofstra. I visited the campus for a tour and was really impressed with what I saw. Not only are the campus facilities top-notch, but the advanced computer science labs are world-class. This shows Hofstra’s focus to be able to provide the best intellectual and technical resources for students. I asked my tour guide about the class sizes and curriculum style. I was thrilled when he told me that average class sizes are in the 20s and that the curriculum emphasizes experiential learning. I am looking for more than just academic excellence; extracurricular activities, including community service opportunities, are also very important to me. In researching schools that would provide students with the most well-rounded lifestyles, I was amazed to see the number of philanthropic events that the school hosts and supports. Philanthropy seems ingrained in the school’s culture. I also saw hundreds of clubs that can cater to everyone’s unique interests. Students are also welcome to start new clubs if no existing clubs can foster their interests. The energy on campus is something that I noticed right away. Both the students and staff show a lot of pride for Hofstra, and it’s truly memorable how enthusiastic the school spirit is among students. Leaving home to attend college is a big change for everyone, and I think school pride and a strong sense of community will help me make a smooth transition. I was very happy to hear that students get two tickets to events on campus. This is especially great because I am a sports fan and would love to experience the electric game-day atmosphere of a division one basketball game and cheer on the Lions! Hofstra’s location is also ideal because it has the advantages of being in a smaller town but also being very close to New York City. I do not want to attend college in a big city, but the fact that New York City is so close opens up a lot of opportunities. First off, there are numerous internships at top companies in the city. In addition, it would be great to visit the city from time to time and see a show or sports game. Being able to do that with friends would give me great experiences and memories. Hofstra is my top choice because it fulfills my most important criteria: esteemed faculty members, a strong computer science program, a strong sense of belonging, amazing internship and community service opportunities, and a diverse campus. I cannot wait to be a Hofstra Lion!
This personal statement is brief and under the word count
This essay is 461 words, which is perfectly under the 500-word limit on many college admissions essays. Although content is the main focus, your personal statement needs to abide by all rules laid out in the essay brief. That includes mundane but essential stipulations such as word count.
It is multi-faceted and hits major selling points
The student talks about Hofstra’s location, academics, sports, extracurriculars, and even philanthropy. The student doesn’t just list these as a marketing brochure would; each selling point is connected to the student personally and emotionally. Excitement is something that every student tries to portray in their admissions essay, so be sure you emulate something like this.
Improve Personal Statements with College Essay Editing Services
It’s an understatement that college is one of the most important factors, affecting your social and professional future. Unfortunately, college personal statements and admissions essays sometimes come a bit disorganized and unfocused, just like the students who write them. That’s where essay editing services like Wordvice come in. They are beneficial for a number of reasons.
Why Use an Admissions Essay Editing Service?
1. they help fix errors that you miss.
College admissions committees have to reject a certain number of applicants every year. You can be sure that your application essay will go straight into the reject pile if it has any grammar or spelling errors.
It definitely takes a bit of self-awareness and experience to realize when it’s best to let someone help you. No one person has a monopoly on knowledge or perspective, no matter how strong their background is. Ever played the “what’s the difference between these two pictures” game?
Our brains are hard-wired to lock in our own biases. That’s a major problem when it comes to writing a personal statement where the entire point is convincing someone else.
2. They save students time
College consulting services have stated that the average number of applications is about 5.9 per college applicant. Of course, students will try to maximize their chances of getting into a good college. The downside is lack of time, which no one can buy more of.
English editing services like Wordvice help free up time so you can do what you need to do: apply to college.
3. Editors help improve your ability to communicate
Whether you are an ESL student or a native English speaker, everyone can improve their writing. In the case of a college application essay, this can mean the difference between getting into your dream college and attending your second-choice school. In addition to fixing grammar and basic errors, editing services go above and beyond to match the flow and readability of your writing with your goal – academic or admissions.
If you are writing a personal statement or college essay, you want editors with first-hand college and university admissions experience reviewing and editing your essay.
Additional College Personal Statement Tips
We hope you learned a lot from these examples of successful college personal statements. So what’s next?
I want to learn more about the college admissions process
Interested in learning more tips from experts about the college admissions process, personal statements, or letters of recommendation? Check out the Wordvice Admissions Resources blog.
I am interested in professional editing for my personal statement
We also got you covered! Whether you choose personal statement editing , recommendation letter editing , resume editing , or any of our other essay editing services , you can find the help you need to improve your college essay.
I want to improve my college personal statement for college right now
Check out our turnaround times and conditions on our editing FAQ page. Or you can jump straight in and use our Editing Price Calculator to start the ordering process.
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How to Write a Personal Statement (with Tips and Examples)
Table of Contents
What is a personal statement, 6 tips on how to write a personal statement, personal statement examples (for college and university), faqs about writing personal statements, conclusion on how to write a personal statement.
How do you tell someone who you are in just a few hundred words?
It’s certainly no easy task, but it’s one almost every college applicant must do. The personal statement is a crucial part of any college or university application.
So, how do you write a compelling personal statement?
In this article, we’ll give you all the tools, tips, and examples you need to write an effective personal statement.
A personal statement is a short essay that reveals something important about who you are. It can talk about your background, your interests, your values, your goals in life, or all of the above.
Personal statements are required by many college admission offices and scholarship selection committees. They’re a key part of your application, alongside your academic transcript, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities.
The reason application committees ask you to write a personal statement is so they can get to know who you are.
Some personal statements have specific prompts, such as “Discuss a period of personal growth in your life” or “Tell us about a challenge or failure you’ve faced.” Others are more open-ended with prompts that essentially boil down to “Tell us about yourself.”
No matter what the prompt is, your goal is the same: to make yourself stand out to the selection committee as a strong candidate for their program.
Here are some things a personal statement can be:
It can be funny. If you have a great sense of humor, your personal statement is a great place to let that shine.
It can be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to open up about hardships in your life or failures you’ve experienced. Showing vulnerability can make you sound more like a real person rather than just a collection of application materials.
It can be creative. Candidates have got into top schools with personal statements that take the form of “a day in the life” descriptions, third-person short stories, and even cooking recipes.
Now we’ve talked about what a personal statement is, let’s quickly look at what a personal statement isn’t:
It isn’t a formal academic paper. You should write the personal statement in your natural voice, using first-person pronouns like “I” and “me,” not in the formal, objective language you would use to write an academic paper.
It isn’t a five-paragraph essay. You should use as many paragraphs as you need to tell your story instead of sticking to the essay structure you learned in school.
It isn’t a resumé. You should try to describe yourself by telling a clear and cohesive story rather than providing a jumbled list of all of your accomplishments and ambitions.
Here are our top six tips for writing a strong personal statement.
Tip 1: Do Some Serious Self-Reflection
The hardest part of writing a personal statement isn’t the actual process of writing it.
Before you start typing, you have to figure out what to write about. And that means taking some time to reflect on who you are and what’s important in your life.
Here are some useful questions you can use to start your self-reflection. You can either answer these on your own by writing down your answers, or you can ask a trusted friend to listen as you talk about them together.
What were the key moments that shaped your life? (e.g. an important friendship, a travel experience, an illness or injury)
What are you proud of? (e.g. you’re a good listener, you always keep your promises, you’re a talented musician)
How do you choose to spend your time? (e.g. reading, practicing soccer, spending time with your friends)
What inspires you? (e.g. your grandmother, a celebrity, your favorite song)
Doing this self-reflection is crucial for figuring out the perfect topics and anecdotes you can use to describe who you are.
Tip 2: Try to Avoid Cliché Topics
College application committees read thousands of personal statements a year. That means there are some personal statement topics they see over and over again.
Here are a few examples of common personal statement topics that have become cliché:
Winning a tournament or sports game
Volunteering in a foreign country
Moving to a new home
Becoming an older sibling
Being an immigrant or having immigrant parents
If you want to make a strong impression in the application process, you need to make your personal statement stand out from the crowd.
But if your chosen personal statement topic falls into one of these categories, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t use it. Just make sure to put a unique spin on it so it still delivers something the committee hasn’t seen before.
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Tip 3: Show, Don’t Tell
One common mistake you might make in your personal statement is to simply tell the reader what you want them to know about you, such as by stating “I have a fear of public speaking” or “I love to cook.”
Instead of simply stating these facts, you should show the committee what you’re talking about through a story or scene, which will make your essay much more immersive and memorable.
For example, let’s say you want the committee to know you overcame your fear of public speaking. Instead of writing “I overcame my fear of public speaking,” show them what it was like to be onstage in front of a microphone. Did your palms get clammy? Did you feel light-headed? Did you forget your words?
Or let’s say you want the committee to know you love to cook. Instead of writing “I love to cook,” show them why you love to cook. What’s your favorite dish to cook? What does the air smell like when you’re cooking it? What kitchen appliances do you use to make it?
Tip 4: Connect the Story to Why You’re Applying
Don’t forget that the purpose of your personal statement isn’t simply to tell the admissions committee who you are. That’s an important part of it, of course, but your ultimate goal is to convince them to choose you as a candidate.
That means it’s important to tie your personal story to your reasons for applying to this specific school or scholarship. Finish your essay with a strong thesis.
For example, if your story is about overcoming your fear of public speaking, you might connect that story to your ambition of becoming a politician. You can then tie that to your application by saying, “I want to apply to this school because of its fantastic politics program, which will give me a perfect opportunity to use my voice.”
Tip 5: Write in Your Own Voice
The personal statement isn’t supposed to be written in a formal tone. That’s why they’re called “personal” statements because you have to shape it to fit your own voice and style.
Don’t use complicated or overwrought language. You don’t need to fill your essay with semicolons and big words, unless that’s how you sound in real life.
One way to write in your own voice is by speaking your personal statement out loud. If it doesn’t feel natural, it may need changing.
Tip 6: Edit, Edit, Edit!
It’s important to revise your personal statement multiple times in order to make sure it’s as close to perfect as possible.
A single typo won’t kill your application, but if your personal statement contains multiple spelling errors or egregious grammar mistakes, you won’t be putting your best foot forward.
ProWritingAid can help you make sure your personal statement is as clean as possible. In addition to catching your grammar errors, typos, and punctuation mistakes, it will also help you improve weaknesses in your writing, such as passive voice, unnecessary repetition, and more.
Let’s look at some of the best personal statements that have worked for successful candidates in the real world.
Harvard Personal Statement Example
Love. For a word describing such a powerful emotion, it is always in the air. The word “love” has become so pervasive in everyday conversation that it hardly retains its roots in blazing passion and deep adoration. In fact, the word is thrown about so much that it becomes difficult to believe society isn’t just one huge, smitten party, with everyone holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.” In films, it’s the teenage boy’s grudging response to a doting mother. At school, it’s a habitual farewell between friends. But in my Chinese home, it’s never uttered. Watching my grandmother lie unconscious on the hospital bed, waiting for her body to shut down, was excruciatingly painful. Her final quavering breaths formed a discordant rhythm with the steady beep of hospital equipment and the unsympathetic tapping hands of the clock. That evening, I whispered—into unhearing ears—the first, and only, “I love you” I ever said to her, my rankling guilt haunting me relentlessly for weeks after her passing. My warm confession seemed anticlimactic, met with only the coldness of my surroundings—the blank room, impassive doctors, and empty silence. I struggled to understand why the “love” that so easily rolled off my tongue when bantering with friends dissipated from my vocabulary when I spoke to my family. Do Chinese people simply love less than Americans do?
This is an excerpt from a personal statement that got the applicant admitted to Harvard University. The applicant discusses her background as a Chinese-American by musing on the word “love” and what that means within her family.
The writer uses vulnerable details about her relationship with her grandmother to give the reader an understanding of where she comes from and how her family has shaped her.
You can read the full personal statement on the Harvard Crimson website.
Tufts Personal Statement Example
My first dream job was to be a pickle truck driver. I saw it in my favorite book, Richard Scarry’s “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go,” and for some reason, I was absolutely obsessed with the idea of driving a giant pickle. Much to the discontent of my younger sister, I insisted that my parents read us that book as many nights as possible so we could find goldbug, a small little golden bug, on every page. I would imagine the wonderful life I would have: being a pig driving a giant pickle truck across the country, chasing and finding goldbug. I then moved on to wanting to be a Lego Master. Then an architect. Then a surgeon. Then I discovered a real goldbug: gold nanoparticles that can reprogram macrophages to assist in killing tumors, produce clear images of them without sacrificing the subject, and heat them to obliteration. Suddenly the destination of my pickle was clear. I quickly became enveloped by the world of nanomedicine; I scoured articles about liposomes, polymeric micelles, dendrimers, targeting ligands, and self-assembling nanoparticles, all conquering cancer in some exotic way. Completely absorbed, I set out to find a mentor to dive even deeper into these topics. After several rejections, I was immensely grateful to receive an invitation to work alongside Dr. Sangeeta Ray at Johns Hopkins.
This is the beginning of a personal statement by Renner Kwittken, who was admitted into Tufts University as a pre-medical student.
Renner uses a humorous anecdote about being a pickle truck driver to describe his love for nanomedicine and how he got involved in his field. You can feel his passion for medicine throughout his personal statement.
You can find Renner’s full essay on the Tufts Admissions page.
Law School Personal Statement Essay Example
For most people, the slap on the face that turns their life around is figurative. Mine was literal. Actually, it was a punch delivered by a drill sergeant at Fort Dix, New Jersey, while I was in basic training. That day’s activity, just a few weeks into the program, included instruction in “low-crawling,” a sensible method of moving from one place to another on a battlefield. I felt rather clever for having discovered that, by looking right rather than down, I eliminated my helmet’s unfortunate tendency to dig into the ground and slow my progress. I could thus advance more easily, but I also exposed my unprotected face to hostile fire. Drill sergeants are typically very good at detecting this type of laziness, and mine was an excellent drill sergeant. So, after his repeated suggestions that I correct my performance went unheeded, he drove home his point with a fist to my face. We were both stunned. This was, after all, the New Army, and striking a trainee was a career-ending move for a drill sergeant, as we were both aware. I could have reported him; arguably, I should have. I didn’t. It didn’t seem right for this good sergeant, who had not slept for almost four days, to lose his career for losing his temper with my laziness. Choosing not to report him was the first decision I remember making that made me proud.
These are the first three paragraphs of an anonymous personal statement by a Wheaton College graduate, who used this personal statement to get into a top-25 law school.
This statement describes a time the applicant faced a challenging decision while in the army. He ended up making a decision he was proud of, and as a result, the personal statement gives us a sense of his character.
You can find the full essay on the Wheaton Academics website.
Here are some common questions about how to write a personal statement.
How Long Should a Personal Statement Be?
The length of your personal statement depends on the specific program you’re applying to. The application guidelines usually specify a maximum word count or an ideal word count.
Most personal statements are between 500–800 words. That’s a good general range to aim for if you don’t have more specific guidelines.
Should Personal Statements Be Different for Scholarships?
Many scholarship applications will ask for personal statements with similar prompts to those of college applications.
However, the purpose of a personal statement you’d write for a scholarship application is different from the purpose of one you’d write for a college application.
For a scholarship application, your goal is to showcase why you deserve the scholarship. To do that, you need to understand the mission of the organization offering that scholarship.
For example, some scholarships are meant to help first-generation college students get their degree, while others are meant to help women break into STEM.
Consider the following questions:
Why is this organization offering scholarships?
What would their ideal scholarship candidate look like?
How do your experiences and goals overlap with those of their ideal scholarship candidate?
You can use the same personal anecdotes you’d use for any other personal statement, but you’ll have a better chance of winning the scholarship if you tailor your essay to match their specific mission.
How to Start a Personal Statement
You should start your personal statement with a “hook” that pulls the reader in. The sooner you catch the reader’s attention, the more likely they’ll want to read the entire essay.
Here are some examples of hooks you can use:
A story (e.g. When the spotlight hit my face, I tried to remind myself to breathe. )
A setting description (e.g. My bedroom floor is covered with dirty laundry, candy wrappers, and crumpled sheet music. )
A funny anecdote (e.g. When I was a little kid, my friends nicknamed me Mowgli because of my haircut. )
A surprising fact (e.g. I've lived in 37 countries .)
There you have it—our complete guide to writing a personal statement that will make you stand out to the application committee.
Here’s a quick recap:
A personal statement is a short essay that shows an application committee who you are
Start with a strong hook that pulls the reader in
Tell a story to engage the reader
Write in your own voice, not in a formal tone
Good luck, and happy writing!
Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.
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Home » How to Start a Personal Statement for Grad School
How to Start a Personal Statement for Grad School
Whether you’re applying for an MBA, MS, MA, or Ph.D., applying to graduate school means writing essays. Whatever it is called (personal statements, statements of intent, statements of purpose, supplemental essays), this form of writing is often new to applicants. Most people struggle with how to start their personal statement. Our best advice: Don’t start writing until you have figured out the end of your story, described as a crisp set of well-thought-out longer-term goals. Defining this endpoint gives you the key to helping guide everything you will eventually flesh out in your applications. We’ll tell you why starting at the end should be the beginning (of your application process)…
Why Graduate School Application Essays are Different
The biggest mistake graduate applicants make is thinking that graduate admissions essays are similar to undergraduate essays, or even a cover letter. They’re not at all! This is not a place for “finding” or “expressing” yourself, nor is it an exercise in selling your resume. A successful graduate school admission essay shows a professional who already has a good grasp of their area of interest and who can lay out a clear, plausible, considered future plan for their career. You’re not (only) selling yourself as you are, you’re (also) selling the you that will ultimately be. The one who emerges from the program after it’s done. That’s the person the school is evaluating. What does that person look like? How much future potential does that person have? The school is looking at that future you and wondering, “Do we want to gamble on THAT person adding value to us and to our brand?”
The context provided by your longer-term aspirations makes it easier to provide cohesive, focused answers to critical questions about you as a candidate (today) that allows the admissions officers to understand your past grades, your past achievements, your test scores, all the “You To-Date” stuff. Admissions committees ultimately want to understand who you are and what motivates you, where you are going, why you have chosen this “mission,” how you plan to get there, why you will succeed, and how their particular graduate program makes sense for you on this career path. Which, translated, ultimately adds up to proving that accepting you will benefit them (the school) in the long run. Each element of your story needs to fit together to address these precise issues––crisply––in order to create a unique and compelling picture of you as a candidate. Your goal in each application is to provide genuine and credible support for your candidacy in the context of your longer-term aspirations.
Where and How to Start a Personal Statement
So, before you start writing, we suggest you outline the key elements of your story by working backward from your overarching goals. Step #1: Define your mission. What is it you really want to do 7 – 10 years after completing your target graduate program? Where do you see yourself? In what role, in what type of organization, responsible for what kinds of things, having what kind of impact, and leveraging what knowledge and skills? Next up is to address why you have chosen this as your personal and/or professional mission? What experiences, people, and influences in your life have inspired, fueled, or shaped these aspirations? Being able to clearly convey these elements of your “why” will help you build belief in the reader that you are motivated to finish what you’re about to start. Anyone can state a tasty-sounding goal. Few have the drive to follow through. That’s why… you need to sell them on your why.
If thinking about this is causing discomfort, guess what––that means you’re in a perfect starting place. It’s the folks who navigate these tough questions who ultimately deliver substance to the finished product. If you have all the answers already, there’s a good chance you haven’t dug deep enough yet. But let’s not minimize it too much. Getting comfortable with a reasonably well-defined long-term picture of where you are headed is not always easy, and worse, it can be frustrating. Developing real clarity is easier said than done, but boy is it worth the effort. Your reasoning, your motivation, it all may continue to evolve and change as you progress on this journey. That just means you’re thinking deeply, and it’s a great sign. All that thinking will magically translate to your written work and will be evident to the gatekeepers scouring the applicant pool for the serious among the casual.
Graduate programs don’t exist to simply hand people more education and career options. They exist to provide access to tools, resources, and opportunities that qualified students can take advantage of in order to prepare for and achieve their unique mission. Great schools don’t want capable students who simply want to get in, show up, and have a career handed to them. A great school wants students who see themselves as people on a meaningful mission, who will work hard to attain their goals, and who have a plan to uniquely and deliberately leverage what the school has to offer. It’s good for you, and it’s also great for them. Your success leads to brand burnishing, funding, resources, and attention…to keep the wheels turning, and it’s this cycle that undergirds every school’s ultimate objectives. Understanding all of this will make you a better salesperson for yourself when you’re penning those essays.
A Great Graduate School Essay Makes You Stand Out
On the one hand, the competition could not be stiffer. Illustrious programs attract attention from the world’s very best, all fighting for what usually amounts to very few available spots. And yet, the vast majority of your competition will not have gotten this memo or internalized it. This is where you can develop an advantage. Put in the work, do the deep thinking, and deliver a crisp, thoughtful graduate application essay, and magically, that alone will put your essay into a pile of its own. That’s a good pile to be in! It is much harder for candidates to distinguish themselves when they have not given enough thought to what they want to accomplish in the future, and why. Simply put, you need to have and to “own” a tangible and meaningful mission, and the school needs to believe in it.
So, aim high. Articulate aspirational goals that are genuine and authentic and make them credible by using your application to demonstrate relevant skills, insights, and commitment. Finally, explain precisely how you plan to leverage the school’s resources to catapult you toward that future you’re asking them to gamble on.
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Your College Application Personal Statement – How to Get Started
There's no reason to panic – at least not yet– but because college applications are due during the first semester of your senior year, you should begin working on them now if you haven’t already done so. And if you're just getting started and wondering how to complete your personal statement for your college application, we’re here to help, so you've come to the right place.
More than 800 colleges accept the Common Application, so that's what we’re going to focus on in this post.
If you take a look at the Common App, you’ll notice that most of it requires relatively straightforward data entry. But the dreaded college essay fills you with anxiety and confusion: What should I write about? What do colleges want to hear? And then you confirm the rumors: many colleges may require more than one essay.
Yes, the college essay does take time and energy (we recommend that you prioritize it over other elements of the application). An effective essay will go through several drafts before it’s ready to share with colleges. But, with care and thought, it needn’t be intimidating – and it can even be rewarding. You may uncover just how interesting and fascinating you are! Let’s start at the beginning by examining what this college essay is all about and how to write it.
What is a Personal Statement for College Applications?
The college application consists of a few parts: your academic record, test scores, activities, accomplishments, and awards – essentially, what you’ve done. However, you are more than that. Through the personal statement, you tell your readers who you are and what matters to you. It’s truly the “personal touch” you add to each application. Each prompt on the Common and Coalition Applications, as well as those appearing on colleges’ own applications (Georgetown University’s, for instance), are crafted to provoke an introspective response in the form of an anecdote about you.
Now that you understand the intent of the personal statement, it’s time to consider content.
What to Write in a Personal Statement for the Common App
What we’re about to tell you holds true for the main essay in every college application, including the Common App, the Coalition App, the Universal App, and a school’s own app.
Principle #1: A good application essay isn’t about the prompt: it’s about you. Admissions officers want you disclose things about yourself – via content and form – that they can’t learn anywhere else in the application. The prompts are nothing more than starting points for that process.
Principle #2: Because of the above, it really doesn’t matter which prompt you choose. We suggest that you choose the last prompt, topic of your choice, even if what you end up writing is or could be a response to another of the prompts. Doing that gives you freedom, there are no rules against it, and it’s perfectly acceptable.
Having said the above, let’s look at two of the Common App’s prompts and discuss how student's might approach responding to them.
Prompt #1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
Let’s look at an example. In the following essay excerpt, the student wrote about a day on the job filled with manual labor plus customer service. Despite the humdrum day, the student found meaning and purpose in those moments spent working hard, and reflected in the essay’s final paragraph:
Often, a guest asks how I tolerate the relentless, blistering heat. I have a difficult time answering this constant question; I do not see it from that perspective. My tired body reminds me of lugging towels up and down the stairs, raking the sand dune, hauling umbrellas, and depositing trash. Yet, my mind remains energized and refreshed by the guests who have shared a little piece of their lives with me. Because of this, walking back through the “Staff Only” door at the end of the day, it is still difficult to conceive that I have just completed a day of work.
Now, let’s consider another Common App prompt, one which focuses on overcoming a challenge. It lends itself to a classic narrative structure (life before challenge, experiencing the challenge, and resulting transformation):
Prompt #2: The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
Let's review an example from a student that wrote about the challenge of lighting a fire. The student encountered this challenge as part of a larger therapeutic wilderness experience where the act of lighting a fire is symbolic of her overall discovery that she had grown more capable and confident:
As I blew into the nest a flame emerged. My feelings at this moment could not be articulated by words alone. It was the feeling of that first bike ride without the training wheels; that feeling you get when you finish organizing your room and you take a step back and marvel at that uncanny event; the way I felt when I was a kid building Lego sets, showing my masterpieces to all my friends. I had finally completed something!
Of course, looking at sample college essays is helpful (use Google; many colleges post examples of essays that worked), but how do you get started? How do you pick a prompt or find a topic? Where does the inspiration for your brilliant personal statement originate? While we’d love to give you a magic formula for a fully-formed idea that springs seemingly from nowhere, we simply can’t; no such formula exists. But, we can share with you some brainstorming ideas and other resources that can assist you.
College Application Personal Statement Ideas
First, begin with your parents (or other close family members) who know you best. While they won’t necessarily come up with a topic for you (nor should they – it’s your essay), they can help you identify areas of your life where you may find some interesting ideas. You can also take a look at your activity résumé. Is there something in it that begs for further elaboration (possibly in an extracurricular activity essay – more on that later)? Any recent travel experiences that included going beyond your comfort zone? Or, closer to home, try your bedroom instead. What about items there that you hold dear, like your journals, trophies, framed photos, camp banner, favorite book – even the view from your bedroom window. Start small; many of our favorite essays have evolved from these deeply personal moments and thoughtful connections – readers are not looking for cancer cures or solutions to world hunger! If you have a big story to tell, fine. But if you don’t, don’t fret. You have great ideas circling within you, so spend some time thinking, reflecting, and brainstorming to have those ideas coalesce.
Once you’ve found a topic, the essay writing begins. Spend time with the subject you’ve chosen. Make sure you’ve created a nice balance between story (sometimes the first half of the personal statement) and reflection (often the latter part). A good essay may go through multiple drafts; big-picture elements come early on (story and structure), while you add details later (and carefully review for sentence variety, proofread, etc.). Share your essay with parents, a teacher, a friend. Ask them what they’ve learned about you – if their answer coincides it’s what you intended, great! Read it aloud to yourself or to a friend. Listen for your voice – does this essay sound like you? When all these elements come together, your essay will be finished and ready to copy into the application.
For some students, the personal statement will be the only college essay they’ll write. But as we alluded earlier, there are a good number of colleges (from elite institutions to those that are far less selective) that require extra essays (supplements) that focus on topics such as a meaningful extracurricular activity or the reason for actually choosing a particular college or your proposed major. In our next blog, we’ll cover some of these essays – with excerpts from those that worked – to help you tackle these supplements.
With this general introduction to the Personal Statement behind us, let's dive into the specific of what to include in your college application and why your character counts .
We’ve shared some insights about getting started on your personal statement. For more personalized help with any aspect of your college application essay, you can take advantage of our $99 special by contacting the JRA Educational Consulting Learning Center nearest you.
Topics: College Application Essay College Admission Personal Statement
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Written by Jason Robinovitz
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Writing the Personal Statement
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This handout provides information about writing personal statements for academic and other positions.
The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories:
1. The general, comprehensive personal statement:
This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms.
2. The response to very specific questions:
Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement should respond specifically to the question being asked. Some business school applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to three or more questions.
Questions to ask yourself before you write:
- What's special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story?
- What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
- When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained?
- How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field?
- If you have worked a lot during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has that work contributed to your growth?
- What are your career goals?
- Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades but mediocre LSAT or GRE scores, for example, or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA if it was only average in the beginning)?
- Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?
- What personal characteristics (for example, integrity, compassion, and/or persistence) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics?
- What skills (for example, leadership, communicative, analytical) do you possess?
- Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school—and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants?
- What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you?
Answer the questions that are asked
- If you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar.
- Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It is important to answer each question being asked, and if slightly different answers are needed, you should write separate statements. In every case, be sure your answer fits the question being asked.
Tell a story
- Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. One of the worst things you can do is to bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.
- Don't, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, engineer, or whatever should be logical, the result of specific experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.
Find an angle
- If you're like most people, your life story lacks drama, so figuring out a way to make it interesting becomes the big challenge. Finding an angle or a "hook" is vital.
Concentrate on your opening paragraph
- The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It is here that you grab the reader's attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement.
Tell what you know
- The middle section of your essay might detail your interest and experience in your particular field, as well as some of your knowledge of the field. Too many people graduate with little or no knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the profession or field they hope to enter. Be as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field and use the language professionals use in conveying this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of specific information about the career you want and why you're suited to it. Since you will have to select what you include in your statement, the choices you make are often an indication of your judgment.
Don't include some subjects
- There are certain things best left out of personal statements. For example, references to experiences or accomplishments in high school or earlier are generally not a good idea. Don't mention potentially controversial subjects (for example, controversial religious or political issues).
Do some research, if needed
- If a school wants to know why you're applying to it rather than another school, do some research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.
Write well and correctly
- Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay very carefully. Many admissions officers say that good written skills and command of correct use of language are important to them as they read these statements. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.
- A medical school applicant who writes that he is good at science and wants to help other people is not exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements.
For more information on writing a personal statement, see the personal statement vidcast .
How to Make Your Personal Statement Introduction Attention-Grabbing
For some amazing personal statement examples, click here
If you want to see how to structure your entire essay, check out my ultimate guide here.
Imagine for a minute that you’re a college admissions counselor.
It’s 6:13 pm on Thursday and you’ve been reading essays for, oh, ever . The coffee has grown cold in your cup, your shoulders are cramping, and your attention span is non-existent.
Which of these opening paragraphs is more likely to make you sit up in your ergonomically correct office chair and take notice?
Example A: Merriam Webster defines music as “vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion,” but to me it’s always been so much more.
Example B: Bowing down to the porcelain god, I emptied the contents of my stomach. Foaming at the mouth, I was ready to pass out. My body couldn’t stop shaking as I gasped for air, and the room started spinning.
If you are a human who is alive, I’m guessing you voted for Example B.
Personal statements that start with intrigue are about a million times more likely to get read. And personal statements that get read are more likely to result in close attention and ultimately a better chance of getting into a great school.
So how do you write an attention-grabbing personal statement Introduction?
Luckily for us, there is more than one way to skin this proverbial cat. Here are some tips:
An attention-grabbing personal statement might begin with a problem that must be solved
Think of how some of your favorite movies begin: we watch a man throw a bag in the river and run back to his car, panic writ large on his face. Or we see a woman, square her shoulders and step onto the tarmac, towards a plane bound for Russia. What did the man throw in the river? Why is he afraid? Who’s waiting for the woman in Russia?
We’re drawn into the story as we try to solve the riddle or the problem. You can use this exact method to draw admission counselors into your personal statement.
Let’s revisit the above example:
Bowing down to the porcelain god, I emptied the contents of my stomach. Foaming at the mouth, I was ready to pass out. My body couldn’t stop shaking as I gasped for air, and the room started spinning.
What happened? Why is she sick? Is she going to be okay? Is anyone going to help?
See, we’re drawn in already, after three sentences.
An attention-grabbing personal statement might not solve the problem right away
This is what we call a story arc. Nobody wants to read “ Bowing down to the porcelain god, I emptied the contents of my stomach. Foaming at the mouth, I was ready to pass out. My body couldn’t stop shaking as I gasped for air, and the room started spinning…. because I got food poisoning at TGIFridays but I got over it the next day and it was cool. THE END.”
Engage in a bit of storytelling; bring the reader along on the journey. Solve a few of the problems, but present a few more. We come to learn where the sick girl is and who is with her, but we’re still not sure how she got sick. We don’t know if she needs medical help or if she’s going to find it.
If you can’t quite hold off till the end of the essay, present a second problem or question partway through and don’t solve that problem till the very end. We discover that she ate bad food while riding the train in India. She’s traveling alone and her suitcase is unattended in the train car while she’s sick in the bathroom. What’s going to happen?! (<- a page-turning personal statement is what’s going to happen, that’s what.)
An attention-grabbing personal statement might begin with an image that makes zero sense
Imagine pulling this out of a pile of personal statements:
Smeared blood, shredded feathers. Clearly, the bird was dead. But wait, the slight fluctuation of its chest, the slow blinking of its shiny black eyes. No, it was alive.
Wait. What? How does this apply to your values or extracurriculars? Don’t you want to keep reading to find out?!
There are two keys to making the non-sensical opening work.
1. Make sure you give us context very soon after establishing the unusual image—maybe in the second paragraph. In a movie, if the viewers don’t know what’s happening, you’ll lose them in about seven minutes—but college essay readers have a much shorter attention span, and if you keep yours in the dark for more than a paragraph or two, you’re likely to lose them.
2. Don’t use an image solely for its shock value. It can have shock value, but the image must be tied in some important way to one of the major themes or lessons of the story.
And, as above, you’ll notice that unusual or striking openings often introduce a problem that must be solved.
An attention-grabbing personal statement might, uh, not start in an attention-grabbing manner.
Not every personal statement needs to start with a barn-burner sentence or paragraph. In fact, some of my very favorite essays started with the author chatting to his mother in a coffee shop or watching her grandmother cook. It’s okay to slowly warm your reader, to gently bring them into the glow of your story.
For a few examples that worked, including the “porcelain god” essay above, click here .
An attention-grabbing opening is a lot of pressure to put on yourself for a first draft, so when in doubt - just start.
One of the secrets to good writing is bad writing ; you need something to edit and fuss with. You can’t improve upon nothing. It’s easy to obsess over writing the perfect essay opening and delay (read: stall, procrastinate) writing your essay until you’ve found that perfect beginning. Don’t.
Here’s a secret: Often, that opening is going to get rewritten because, once you write the middle of the essay, you discover the topic needs to change. Or you realize you need to start your essay at a later point in the story—right at the crucial moment of decision, for example.
So here’s some advice for those looking for that perfect opening: Just write your essay. Get started. You’ll find an opening later.
WANT some HELP with YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT? CHECK OUT A FREE TRIAL OF MY STEP-BY-STEP VIDEO COURSE HERE !
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How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples
We’re regularly asked the question “ how to start a personal statement ”? It’s a challenging task for anybody but worry not as we’re here to help guide you through the process.
The introduction is the first thing the admissions committee will read. That’s why the first sentence of a personal statement should be a catchy, attention-grabbing hook or story that grabs the reader’s attention and sets up the main point of your essay.
A lacklustre introduction may lose your readers’ interest, preventing them from reading the rest of your personal statement!
But don’t worry, this article will guide you on writing a personal statement introduction, a few examples of opening sentences and how to captivate the admissions tutors. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Top Tip: Leave Your Introduction For Last
You know what they say, the hardest thing to do is start . So skip the introduction for now and focus on the main body of your personal statement. If you’re not sure what your main content should be, read out how to write a personal statement guide.
After nailing down the main points, you’ll have a concrete idea of how your introduction can captivate the reader and stay relevant to the bulk of the writing. Go ahead and work on the rest of your personal statement.
Come back when you’re finished! And if you’re worried about your conclusion then check out our advice on personal statement conclusions .
2. Cut To The Chase
You only have 4,000 characters to sell yourself as an ideal student candidate. Make each character and paragraph count! That means forget about flowery words and directionless statements. When you start your personal statement, explain your motivations for choosing your course in one or two sentences.
Although you will discuss this in-depth in the main body of content, capturing your reader’s attention with a quick overview of why you’re enthusiastic about your chosen course is crucial. That’s why capturing the reader’s attention by jumping straight to the point is key to starting a personal statement.
3. Be Specific
Never give vague details when expressing why you want to pursue your course. “I always wanted to be an engineer since I was a kid,” or “I want to become a doctor because I enjoy science” isn’t advised.
On that note, if you’re applying to medicine refer to our guide on how to write a medical personal statement . We suggest being more specific than that, and you can include your academic achievements too. Here are a few suggestions that may help you:
- You witnessed an inspirational figure in your life solve a massive problem with a specific skill set (doctor, engineer, etc.)
- While you were at a charity event, you encountered a problem that kept people in deprivation. By pursuing this course, you’re a part of the solution.
- You’re good at, and you enjoy a specific skill set. The course you’re eyeing puts great emphasis on this particular skill.
- There was a moment in your life when you succeeded in solving a problem. You felt significant by doing so, and you want to keep doing that for the rest of your life (teaching poor children how to read)
- You watched a movie or read a book that ignited your passion for the course. After doing volunteer work or part-time employment related to your course, you’re determined to pursue it.
Craft a sentence or two that encapsulates the core of your “why.” Do this, and your reader will want to read more!
4. Demonstrate Knowledge In Your Chosen Course
An essential element of starting a personal statement is to express why you’re enthusiastic about taking your chosen course. You need to demonstrate that you’re aware of what you’re getting yourself into in the process. Answer any of these prompt questions for inspiration:
- What do you find interesting about the course?
- How do you believe the course will help you achieve your goals?
- How will you use your chosen course to contribute to society?
- What hurdles do you expect to encounter, and how will you handle them?
Decide which of these questions fits best into the main content of your personal statement . Write your answer in a sentence or two, weave them into your application essay and think about the help you received from your tutors in the past.
5. Ditch The “Since I Was A Child” Line
We’re often asked what not to put in a personal statement and “Since I was a child” is a cliche statement that gets thrown around haphazardly. How many students have said this at least once in their personal statements?
Recalling your childhood passions is a weak “why” for pursuing your course. Why? Because the admissions committee is looking for a relevant and up-to-date reason.
When you were little, you had zero knowledge and little enthusiasm to become successful in your field. You had no idea what skillsets you needed or what other options were available to you.
But if you were to cite a recent event in your life that supports your determination to pursue your course, that screams “educated choice” right there. And that is what the admission committee is looking for after reading hundreds, if not thousands of introductions.
6. Brainstorm Several Versions Of Your Opening Lines
The desire to get it right the first time paralyses you from starting. So permit yourself to write freely. Write as many versions of your opening lines as possible.
Don’t worry about the grammar, spelling, or character count just yet. Type everything that goes off the top of your head. When you’re done, take a look at your list.
Cross out the ones you dislike, and encircle the ones you think have potential. Then start piecing the puzzle pieces together to check out if the intro lines fit with the rest of your personal statement.
If you’ve found three potential opening statements, try reading them aloud together with the rest of your personal statement. Do they flow seamlessly into one another? Make the necessary adjustments. Play around with it until you feel you’ve hit the spot.
7. Make Your Opening Statement Error Free
Your opening statement is your hook line. Spelling or grammatical errors at the start discourage your reader from reading further. If you have errors at the beginning, you’ll most likely have them in your main content!
So make sure your English is simple, flawless, and straightforward. Run your personal statement through a tool like Grammarly to weed out most of the errors.
The Hemingway app is also a helpful tool for checking for passive voice and other writing problems. Take advantage of writing assistant tools, especially if you’re a non-native English writer.
8. Read Examples Of Personal Statements
Read as many personal statement examples as you can. Any that captivated you, keep them in your notes. Figure out why these statements stood out to you compared to the others. What elements can you place in your personal statement?
When reading personal statements that put you off, find out why. What characteristics do they have that elicit a negative reaction from you? List them down, and make sure you avoid them.
After this exercise, you should have a few more ideas about your personal statement introduction.
9. Ask For Feedback
Never underestimate what feedback can give you. Ask your family, friends, and acquaintances about your opening statement. Does your personality shine through? Is it straight to the point? Does it flow smoothly with the main content of your personal statement?
Listen to what they have to say. Jot down important points. You’ll need their feedback to get a second opinion on whether it works for you or not.
10. Give Yourself Time
Your chosen career depends on your college education. And a first crucial step is to convince the admission committee you’re worth accepting into your university. You have to give your personal statement your best shot. Give yourself enough time to brainstorm and think everything over.
You can’t finish a complete, well-written personal statement in a week. Much less overnight!
So make sure you set aside enough time to put your best foot forward. After finishing a complete draft of your personal statement, put it down. Forget about it for a few days. Then come back and reread it.
With a fresh set of eyes, you’ll notice details you may not have seen before! Revise as much as you need.
Do I Need To Write An Introduction For A Personal Statement?
Yes, we recommend writing an introduction for your personal statement as it provides context to the rest of your writing. The introduction is an opportunity to make a good first impression and capture the university admissions officer’s attention.
What is a good opening sentence for a personal statement?
Here are some examples of a good opening sentence for a captivating introduction. Note how it ties into the university degree almost straight away with first-hand experience:
- “Growing up in a small town with limited resources sparked my curiosity and drive to pursue higher education and make a positive impact in my community.”
- “From a young age, I have been fascinated by the intricacies of the human mind and the power of psychology to improve people’s lives.”
- “As a first-generation college student, I am determined to break barriers and pave the way for future generations through a career in law.”
- “My passion for sustainable design was ignited by a volunteer trip to a developing country, where I witnessed the devastating effects of environmental degradation firsthand.”
- “A chance encounter with a blind person and their guide dog inspired me to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, with the goal of improving the lives of animals and their human companions.”
Please do NOT use these in your personal statements, use these to guide you on how you want to start your personal statement.
Can You Open Your Personal Statement With A Quote?
It is a risky move to open your personal statement with a quote and can come across as clichéd or insincere to the university admission officers. However, there are rare occasions when it can work, just make sure the quote relates to your degree and experience you’re writing about.
Get Ready To Write Your Personal Statement
How does one start a captivating personal statement? Take the time to think about what makes an effective introduction.
Read examples of personal statements from other students to glean ideas for how yours might stand out. Once you have read through some good ones, they should be more than just two or three!–look closely at what elements made them so successful.
Then try applying those same principles on how to start a personal statement! Don’t forget to bookmark this post for future reference.
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8 Tips On How To Write A Personal Statement For College In 2022 Examples
Therefore, we’ll give you some tips on how to write a personal statement for college in 2022. Most times, applicants hire professional personal statement writers to do the job for them. A Schwartz study, carried out in 2004, totally backs up this statement in every degree and dimension. Hence, many schools have adopted other procedures to ensure they admit the best students. Now I believe a personal statement is not esoteric to you, instead, it’s exactly the contrary. So, in this article, you’ll get basic knowledge on personal statements, procedures, examples, and very important tips on how to write a personal statement for college.
What Is A Personal Statement? What is the purpose of a personal statement #
A personal statement is generally a document a student submits to his college of choice in order to gain admission. In this document, you precisely state the department you wish to enroll in and how it will impact your life and society positively. A popular misinterpretation about personal statements is that personal statements are the major criteria used by admission councils to judge students. Well, this is wrong and totally untrue. Instead, personal statements are important as they reflect a large extent the applicant’s pursuit. Initially, many college applicants begin writing their personal statements until they probably bump into another one which they regard as better. Then, they gradually get discouraged and eventually hire a writer to help them out. Although a writer will do a good job on your personal statement for college, the aim will be totally defeated. Why? Because it’s called a “personal statement” for a reason. The idea is basically for you to express yourself. And this is the reason behind the format of a personal statement for college. What then is the format for a personal college statement? There is no format. You write in the manner in which you best express yourself. Hence, your personal statement has to be unique and descriptive of your abilities.
How Do I Start A Personal Statement For College? #
This is usually the hardest part as it can make or mar your statement. The beginning of your personal statement for college has to totally capture the mind of the reader while encouraging him/her to keep reading. You should use simple words which can be easily interpreted and understood. Additionally, your sentences should maintain a uniform length. In summary, we believe the best method you can apply is to use a story that depicts your continuous drive and commitment to become a better person.
How Long Should A Personal Statement For College Be? #
A personal statement for college should not exceed 4,000 words and 45 lines. Basically, this is to avoid a very long and tiring read. It may seem too much, but your perspective may change as you start writing and you need to summarize all these relevant thoughts, skills and experiences. It is better to write and finalize your statement in a Word document, then copy it into the UCAS application system for submission, instead of making changes later. All your paragraphs will be generally separated by one blank line which makes readability easy. However, your spacing has to be uniform.
8 Tips On How To Write A Personal Statement For College #
Personal statements are letters of intent focused on delivering the best reasons why you want to take particular actions. When it comes to college, there are certain differences hence there is no rule of thumb. So, we have outlined 8 tips which will help you write an exceptional personal statement for college. Therefore, these 8 tips include;
1. Start Writing #
Writing has been existing long before most of us were born. Indeed, it is an everlasting skill that individuals still use to make an income. Many people have a misconception about writing; they believe writing is for a select group of people. Indeed, this is not true. Writing is for everyone and can be done by everyone. It’s only a skill when you specifically develop a particular area in writing. Today, innovations have improved writing greatly. Many manufacturing systems have been developed and have made it easier. Writing long texts is no longer an issue as you can easily make corrections and necessary adjustments. So, when writing a personal statement for college you shouldn’t think too long about a very perfect start. A perfect start comes after you have written and evaluated many times.
2. Short paragraphs #
Short paragraphs spice up any time of writing. They make it easy for people to see and read too. They also help you outline your thoughts in simpler ways which makes communication effective. In addition, research has shown that people read writings with short sentences much more than those with long sentences. When it comes to grasping a reader’s attention, a good rule of thumb is to abstain from writing more than five or six sentences in a paragraph before finding a logical place to break. Therefore, remember that the idea behind a paragraph might be short and sweet, or it might merit a deeper explanation. Actually, there are no strict rules about how many words or lines your paragraphs should be, and there’s no need to lock your doors if you occasionally write long or short ones.
3. Simple Use of English #
The use of complex words is totally unnecessary as it makes reading very difficult. Hence, your writing has to communicate simplicity. Writing in simple terms has a lot of advantages. These advantages range from easier understanding to better interpretation. Don’t make the mistake of believing that you need to express your use of “ambiguous” words in your personal statement. Always stick to simplicity, simplicity rules.
4. Focus on your strengths #
Your statement should primarily focus on your area of strengths. It’s not wise to state matters where you are not generally strong. You have to properly outline your key areas of strength where you can do very well. However, you must be sure to state how your strengths combine with your academic pursuits to help you achieve success.
5. Uniqueness #
We all in life don’t definitely have the same experiences and this is actually what makes us different. This difference is immediately expressed in the way we execute responsibilities and perform tasks. So, your writing style should by all degrees be different from that of someone else. Your uniqueness has to be dominant. Indeed, admission councils understand how professionals write and will easily detect a personal statement for college that was written by a professional. Hence, this should encourage you to write your statement yourself. Most times, it generally doesn’t fall to punctuation and structure but the desire to study and affect lives.
6. Grammatical construction #
Now, many college applicants fall into the trap of trying to impress the admission council with grammar. Indeed, this is contrary to the goal. The general idea is to use intelligible words in a manner that communicates meaning and a desire to study. You only need to use certain ambiguous words when they actually best explain your point in a few lines. The best rule of thumb is to keep it simple, straight to the point, and most importantly; inspiring.
7. Storytelling #
Stories have been constantly told from generation to generation. In fact, it is a cultural practice that can’t die. Stories are a beautiful style of communicating your life in a way that appeals to the emotions of people. Through stories, humans can actually fix themselves in your place and feel what you feel. Therefore, when crafting a good personal statement, a good hack is to start with stories. For example; You can draw the story from your childhood where you illustrate how you dreamt to become a pilot by building paper out of cardboard paper. Stories sell and they will continually do so.
8. Length #
Hey! It’s good to get to your point and state your mission but being too straightforward is boring. Additionally, it will make your personal statement very brief and unprofessional also communicating laziness and unseriousness. Hence, your personal college statement should have length – a minimum of 1,000 words is a great place to start. Probably you might think it’s a very big challenge, it’s actually small. Because when you pick up your writing tools to begin, you will flow effortlessly. Also Read: 4 Tips on Scholarship Letter Application with Samples
Personal Statement for College Examples #
After you must have read these tips, you might still be a little confused about your statement journey. Don’t worry! We have taken research and gotten some great personal statements that can help you. Hence, we will be giving you examples from goingmerry.
Essay: On why I want to study music #
“My great-great-uncle Giacomo Ferrari was born in 1912 in Neverland, NY, the youngest of four sons. His parents had emigrated from Italy with his two eldest brothers in the early 1900s in search of a better life in America. Their struggles as immigrants are in themselves inspiring, but the challenges they faced are undoubtedly similar to those that many other immigrant families had to overcome; because of this, the actions that my relatives embarked upon are that much more extraordinary. Giacomo’s oldest brother Antonio, my great-grandfather, decided to take a correspondence course in violin and to teach his youngest brother Giacomo how to play as well. Giacomo Ferrari eventually became an accomplished violinist and started a free “Lunchtime Strings” program for all the elementary schools in the Neverland area, giving free violin lessons and monthly concerts. As a native English speaker who has had the privilege of studying viola and violin with trained, private teachers, I can only imagine the perseverance it took for my great-grandfather and great-great-uncle to learn an instrument like the violin out of booklets and lessons that were not even written in their native language. Their passion and dedication to learning something new, something not part of their lives as blue-collar, immigrant workers, and their desire to share it with others, has inspired me as a musician and a person. It is this spirit that has motivated me to pursue an MA at Composition at the University of XXX.”
Essay: On why I want to study medicine #
“My passion for teaching others and sharing knowledge emanates from my curiosity and love for learning. My shadowing experiences, in particular, have stimulated my curiosity and desire to learn more about the world around me. How does platelet-rich plasma stimulate tissue growth? How does diabetes affect the proximal convoluted tubule? My questions never stopped. I wanted to know everything and it felt very satisfying to apply my knowledge to clinical problems. distinct concepts together to form a coherent picture truly attracts me to medicine. It is hard to separate science from medicine; in fact, medicine is science. However, medicine is also about people—their feelings, struggles, and concerns. Humans are not pre-programmed robots that all face the same problems. They deserve sensitive and understanding physicians. Humans deserve doctors who are infinitely curious, constantly questioning new advents in medicine. They deserve someone who loves the challenge of problem-solving and coming up with innovative individualized solutions. I want to be that physician. I want to be able to approach each case as a unique entity and incorporate my strengths into providing personalized care for my patients. Until that time, I may be found Friday mornings in the operating room, peering over shoulders, dreaming about the day I get to hold the drill.”
Essay: On living with depression #
“Before I was diagnosed, I had been told it was a normal part of growing up. I was told that teens are moody. I would grow out of it. Sincerely, I couldn’t imagine anyone growing out of what I was feeling. I couldn’t imagine anyone surviving. Diagnosis and medication have saved my life, allowing me to see the world as people without my brain chemistry would. […] what I found was a place of tiny kindnesses. It might sound bad—as though kindness can only exist in the smallest forms. This is not what I mean. There are extraordinary people out there who devote their lives to doing very large, very important things for others. I’m not talking about them, partially because they are extraordinary. They are not the norm. What is normal are the tiny kindnesses. These do not cost a person much of anything. A slice of time, a moment of openness, and little else. They are a smile when you’re feeling down, a comforting hand on the shoulder, a moment to talk.”
What is the personal statement for college outline? #
Your personal statement for college outline is what you create it to be. However, as we have earlier said, a statement is all about you. We have listed all the tricks that can help you deliver an astounding statement. In summary, the outline is just your title in addition to your explanation of your intention to study. You write a strong personal statement by clearly expressing your desire to study and how it will affect you and humanity. You start off a personal statement by telling a story that communicates your drive to study. Your personal statement will only stand out when it is unique, simple, and has a great flow. A good length for a personal statement is nothing less than 400 words. You introduce yourself at the beginning by telling a story of your history.
As a college applicant, your personal statement is the only biggest expression of your abilities apart from your results. In fact, it tells more about your thinking capacity and communication intelligence. There are no great statements by ranking. A great statement is one that comes from a desire to learn and grow demonstrated by the power of ink. Don’t look down on yourself when it comes to writing, instead take initiative and watch your dreams come true.
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College Personal Statement: Examples (250 Words) & Guide
One day, out of nowhere, you suddenly need to know how to write a 250-word personal statement for a college application. Such pressure would give even great essayists writer’s block. And what exactly are you required to compose?
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A personal statement is just an essay with a topic that focuses on the writer specifically. In all the best examples, college admissions committees are given real insights into applicants.
That is to say: Unfortunately, this article can’t give you a personal statement template because each is unique. However, our experts found some great college personal statement examples (250 words and 500 words). Below, you’ll see them and how to write a successful personal statement with our guidance.
- 🧔 What Is It?
🏁 Starting Off
💡 writing tips.
- 🎓 Graduate School
- ⚖️ Law School
- 🏥 Medical School
🧔 What Is a Personal Statement?
Many high school students think they have never written a 250-word personal statement before. But most of them are mistaken. Why is this? You have probably written plenty of personal essays as a high school student. Though, they differ from what you’ll have to deal with for your college application.
A personal statement should reveal information about its author (in other words, you). You cannot stay indifferent, discussing any topic within this task.
A personal statement on literature should go beyond your opinion of your favorite book. (Definitely do not write a report !) Instead, it should indicate what your favorite book means to you . Similarly, if you’ve chosen to write about your favorite sport, you must write about how and why you feel about it. See the pattern?
Most of all:
Don’t forget that you are the star of your personal statement—no matter what, you are the topic.
🔑 Keys to 250-Word Personal Statement
Before getting into the details about what makes a college application special, let’s review essay writing fundamentals. These rules should guide you every time you sit down to compose your statement:
- Planning your writing is essential. Don’t throw an essay together at the last minute. Think about what you’re going to write, outline your personal statement, and then execute it.
- Be sure to use a solid writing structure , especially if you have a freeform essay prompt. Many college admissions essay prompts are freeform, but don’t let your personal statement format be freeform. However, this shouldn’t be a problem because you already know the best personal statement format! Always use a properly structured essay format with a clear introduction, thesis statement, body, and conclusion (like the 5-paragraph essay ).
- The foundation of all good writing is rewriting—so don’t submit the first draft! You’re not a professional writer, but even acclaimed writers always need to edit and rewrite to perfect their prose. If you don’t have multiple drafts of your personal statement for college, you are in trouble. You even may want to use a reworder in order to make your text perfect.
- Make sure your essay addresses the prompt. The first and only impression most college applicants get to make is through their application essays. A strong personal statement should always address the prompt directly. If the admissions committee thinks you’ve adapted old writing for your application, they might think you don’t know how to follow directions.
- Get the reader’s attention by showing what makes you unique and a great applicant. Put yourself in the position of the college admissions staff. They read tons of essays. Accordingly, you should focus on grabbing the attention of the reader, but in the right way. Don’t lie, exaggerate, or try to be memorable for the wrong reason. Instead, find ways to emphasize the unique traits about yourself that would make you an ideal college student.
- …so start writing early and don’t procrastinate ! Rushed writing is typically bad writing. When you have the time to write (and rewrite), the finished product will be superior. If you know that you have an application essay due next month, try producing a draft today.
- … so don’t waste your reader’s time. This is the most important rule of writing. When an essay has to be 500 words in length, for example, make sure that you’ve chosen an appropriate topic. If you can only write 250 words on a subject and the rest is filler, your readers will feel like their time was wasted.
If you can follow this small handful of rules, you will be ahead of most college applicants. Remember, getting into college is a competition, so it is vital to learn how to write a strong personal statement.
Receive a plagiarism-free paper tailored to your instructions.
🌟 How to Write a 250-Word Personal Statement
So you’re finally ready to write your personal statement? You’ve Googled “write personal statement sample” and “how to start a college personal statement,” so now you know how to start a personal statement, right?
Not so fast:
Have you brainstormed? Have you written an outline? Have you developed the perfect thesis statement? If you haven’t performed these crucial steps, then you aren’t ready.
Here are a few more tips to ensure you get your personal statement started off on the right foot:
- Think about a similar writing process.
Ponder the following. A college application essay is just a persuasive essay in which you are trying to persuade your reader that you would make an excellent college student. Of course, you want to be more subtle, but the purpose of a personal statement for a college application is persuasion.
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- Read personal statement examples.
Many prestigious universities publish a handful of sample personal statements from successful applicants. These are the best sorts of personal statement examples, but you should be careful to avoid copying topics or language. Instead, pay attention to similarities to better understand the best format for a personal statement.
- Don’t goof up the simple formatting issues.
Nowadays, the physical formatting of your personal statement matters less than ever because so much text is directly submitted through the web. In case you need to send it as a Word document file, use a standard font like 12 point Arial or Times New Roman. Do not make tiny or huge margins.
Nonetheless, you may want to add a heading that includes your name. This way, you’ll be sure that you are given credit for your extraordinary personal statement—even if your printed essay is misplaced. Most importantly, check any formatting requirements and apply them before writing one word.
- Pay attention to the strengths of a school or program to which you are applying .
If you are applying to a college with strength in agriculture, you should write an essay that shows how well you understand crops or livestock. If you’re going to an engineering school, you should highlight your dexterity with calculations. In the case of a military academy, the last thing you want to do is describe how much you hate following rules.
Armed with these guidelines for a 250-word personal statement for college, you should be able to start writing an excellent essay to get into any school.
There are many tips for writing the best college application essay , and here are a few of the most vital.
- First : Remember the purpose of writing a personal statement for a college application.
The answer is to get into the colleges to which you are applying. You’re not writing to express yourself, though good personal essay examples typically do that. Instead, you need to impress a university staff member, reading dozens of papers every day for a month.
- Second : Select a topic that contributes to your success.
Since the goal is to get admitted to a college, you need to put your best foot forward. Try to choose a topic that highlights one of your most positive attributes.
Suppose you can write about a topic that clarifies what a great college student you will be—it’s excellent! Try to use your personal statement to show your incredible drive and resilient character inside the classroom and out. But again, don’t lie or exaggerate.
- Third: Write about activities that define your personality.
If possible, write about activities that are on your application elsewhere, but are not well described. In case you were a class president, you might want to mention that.
However, if you started a unique club that did charity work, tutoring, or anything else benefiting the community, this would be a superior topic. Class presidents are popular students, while students who create positive change in their communities are rare gems.
- Lastly: Never waste your reader’s time .
Follow the general rules given earlier in this article, but pay special attention to this one. The admissions staff that reads these college essays must read many application packets daily. They want to feel like every paper they read is worthy of their attention.
For this reason, never include filler in an admission essay. If there are any wasted words in your college personal statement (whether 500-word or 250-word one), cut them immediately.
🕵️ Specific Personal Statement Secrets
What if you’ve already been admitted to your dreams’ college? And now, your goal is to get into the graduate program. Or you’ve studied hard, done well in college, and decided to go to law school. Last but certainly not least, you may be applying to medical school.
You’ll need a personal statement that will get you in the school or program for all these cases. Below, we’ve gathered some tips for these particular instances.
🎓 Graduate School Personal Statement
Many students have to settle for safety schools when attending college. Still, graduate and professional institutions can provide a second chance to achieve your academic dreams.
Before you dust off the college application essay that got you into your current university, you should consider that graduate students’ standards are higher. You have to work a lot to get your Master’s degree or a Ph.D.
Here are a few tips that you should follow if you want to get into your dreams’ graduate program.
- Pick graduate programs to apply to that suit your strengths from your undergraduate education. This isn’t exactly a writing tip, but it is a tip that makes your writing much more manageable. When you sit down to write your grad school application essays, it can be relatively easy if your résumé screams that you are a perfect fit.
- Try to find and read more than one successful graduate school personal statement sample . If you are an overachieving undergraduate student, like many future grad students are, you may have strong relationships with your teaching assistants, instructors, and even professors. Many of these people may have graduate school 250-word personal statement examples from their graduate school applications. Many of them would be happy to share them with you if you promise to be nice. After reading a successful personal statement or two, you may see what is expected of a grad school applicant.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to the graduate program or your future graduate advisors ahead of time. Graduate school is not like undergraduate programs—you will probably work very closely with a professor. Accordingly, you should email or even phone them before you apply. The content of your conversations will shape your personal statement. For example, you may know the professor you want to work with also wants to work with you. Then you should include that information in your personal statement.
- Get help from current or past grad students! Again, if you are an overachieving undergraduate, make sure to use your professional contacts to write the best essays possible. Some constructive criticism on your application materials could be just what you need to get admitted.
These tips are just the beginning of writing one of the best grad school essays that will be submitted to your graduate program of choice.
Above all else:
Remember to follow all the norms within your field. Every discipline and subject in graduate school has slightly different standards . Only use those tips applicable to your domain.
⚖️ Law School Personal Statement
Don’t make a boneheaded mistake with your law school personal statement! Following the rules outlined above is just a start. You’ll also need to read a few law school personal statements and pay attention to these specific features in the application process.
- Make sure to use crystal clear language. Practicing law is all about communicating logically and persuasively. These three elements of communication are the fundamentals of being a successful lawyer. If your essay does not demonstrate these qualities, you will probably not be admitted to law school.
- Don’t focus too much on your love of the legal professions or process. It is a little known fact that most lawyers never enter a courtroom in the average year. Trial lawyers make up a small percentage of lawyers. Most are corporate lawyers who use their expertise to advise their firms and write and analyze contracts. And of course, many individuals with law degrees use their legal knowledge, training, and skills for totally unrelated professions. Accordingly, you should focus on writing an essay that describes the positive attributes. Show what makes you well suited to learning and writing about law, rather than your long-term professional goals.
- If you do talk about the implications of a legal profession or its importance to you, be careful! If you insist on writing about your imagined future as a judge or your deep and eternal love of the law, make sure your writing does not contain inaccuracies. Remember, the people reading your law school personal statements are probably lawyers—and they almost certainly have better understandings of the law than you. If your law school personal statement contains any legal content, perhaps have a lawyer read it.
🏥 Medical School Personal Statement
Medical doctors, optometrists, and dentists each have their special schools with their stringent standards. As such, read some sample essays and follow these tips to ensure your success.
- If you are applying to medical school, be sure you apply to a program that might accept you. Be realistic when assessing your résumé, transcript, and MCAT scores. The medical schools you are applying to should be within reach. If you can match your desired schools’ qualifications, your medical school personal statement will be much easier to write. (However, one nice feature of med school personal statements is that you can often write an AMCAS personal statement and use it for multiple programs.)
- Demonstrate your skills as both a scholar and a scientist . Medical school in the 21st century is equal parts book smarts and scientific knowhow. If you have laboratory research experience, make sure to share it. If you’ve had scientific publications, they need to be a focus of your personal statement.
Thank you for reading! We hope all these tips were helpful, and now you can nail your college personal statement. Share the article with other people who may find it useful for their essay writing.
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✏️ Personal Statement for College FAQ
Nearly any college or scholarship application procedure includes writing a specific paper. It may be a motivation letter, a personal statement, or an application essay, etc. A student should describe their background, provide relevant information about experience and goals, prove their motivation.
Applying for a scholarship implies writing a personal statement or a similar paper. If you want to succeed in it, look at multiple examples or even templates available online. Your main task is to highlight your strength and motivation.
For a college application, a standard format includes the following key points:
- Introduction (name, age, place of residence);
- Educational background (all levels + related courses);
- The desired program you’re applying for;
- Justification of your choice, your motivation;
- Relevant additional details about you.
A personal statement might look a little different, depending on the type of application. For grad school, college, masters, jobs – each one might have its peculiarities. The common principle is that it should be well-structured, contain relevant details about your background, and prove your strong motivation.
- How to Write a Great College Essay, Step-by-Step: Alex Heimbach, PrepScholar
- 10 Top Personal Statement Writing Tips: Studential
- Editing the Essay, Part One: Kim Cooper, for the Writing Center at Harvard University
- Popular College Application Essay Topics (and How to Answer Them): The Princeton Review
- Paragraph Structure: University of Maryland, Global Campus
- College Essay Examples, How to Write Your Story: US News
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8 Tips On How To Write A Personal Statement For College In 2022 | Examples
October 31, 2022 by
A personal statement is your chance to demonstrate why the college you choose should grant you admission. Indeed, it is a big difference-maker in college application considerations. Writing a good statement is a very important step.
Therefore, we’ll give you some tips on how to write a personal statement for college in 2022.
Most times, applicants hire professional personal statement writers to do the job for them. A Schwartz stud y , carried out in 2004, totally backs up this statement in every degree and dimension. Hence, many schools have adopted other procedures to ensure they admit the best students.
Now I believe a personal statement is not esoteric to you, instead, it’s exactly the contrary. So, in this article, you’ll get basic knowledge on personal statements, procedures, examples, and very important tips on how to write a personal statement for college.
What Is A Personal Statement? What is the purpose of a personal statement
A personal statement is generally a document a student submits to his college of choice in order to gain admission.
In this document, you precisely state the department you wish to enroll in and how it will impact your life and society positively.
A popular misinterpretation about personal statements is that personal statements are the major criteria used by admission councils to judge students.
Well, this is wrong and totally untrue. Instead, personal statements are important as they reflect a large extent the applicant’s pursuit.
Initially, many college applicants begin writing their personal statements until they probably bump into another one which they regard as better. Then, they gradually get discouraged and eventually hire a writer to help them out.
Although a writer will do a good job on your personal statement for college, the aim will be totally defeated.
Why? Because it’s called a “personal statement” for a reason.
The idea is basically for you to express yourself. And this is the reason behind the format of a personal statement for college.
What then is the format for a personal college statement?
There is no format. You write in the manner in which you best express yourself. Hence, your personal statement has to be unique and descriptive of your abilities.
How Do I Start A Personal Statement For College ?
This is usually the hardest part as it can make or mar your statement.
The beginning of your personal statement for college has to totally capture the mind of the reader while encouraging him/her to keep reading.
You should use simple words which can be easily interpreted and understood. Additionally, your sentences should maintain a uniform length.
In summary, we believe the best method you can apply is to use a story that depicts your continuous drive and commitment to become a better person.
Also Read: Scholarship Motivation Letter
How Long Should A Personal Statement For College Be?
A personal statement for college should not exceed 4,000 words and 45 lines. Basically, this is to avoid a very long and tiring read.
It may seem too much, but your perspective may change as you start writing and you need to summarize all these relevant thoughts, skills and experiences.
It is better to write and finalize your statement in a Word document, then copy it into the UCAS application system for submission, instead of making changes later.
All your paragraphs will be generally separated by one blank line which makes readability easy. However, your spacing has to be uniform.
8 Tips On How To Write A Personal Statement For College
Personal statements are letters of intent focused on delivering the best reasons why you want to take particular actions. When it comes to college, there are certain differences hence there is no rule of thumb.
So, we have outlined 8 tips which will help you write an exceptional personal statement for college. Therefore, these 8 tips include;
- Start Writing
- Short paragraphs
- Simple Use of English
- Focus on strengths
- Grammatical construction
1. Start Writing
Writing has been existing long before most of us were born. Indeed, it is an everlasting skill that individuals still use to make an income.
Many people have a misconception about writing; they believe writing is for a select group of people. Indeed, this is not true.
Writing is for everyone and can be done by everyone. It’s only a skill when you specifically develop a particular area in writing.
Today, innovations have improved writing greatly. Many manufacturing systems have been developed and have made it easier.
Writing long texts is no longer an issue as you can easily make corrections and necessary adjustments.
So, when writing a personal statement for college you shouldn’t think too long about a very perfect start. A perfect start comes after you have written and evaluated many times.
2. Short paragraphs
Short paragraphs spice up any time of writing. They make it easy for people to see and read too.
They also help you outline your thoughts in simpler ways which makes communication effective.
In addition, research has shown that people read writings with short sentences much more than those with long sentences.
When it comes to grasping a reader’s attention, a good rule of thumb is to abstain from writing more than five or six sentences in a paragraph before finding a logical place to break.
Therefore, remember that the idea behind a paragraph might be short and sweet, or it might merit a deeper explanation.
Actually, there are no strict rules about how many words or lines your paragraphs should be, and there’s no need to lock your doors if you occasionally write long or short ones.
3. Simple Use of English
The use of complex words is totally unnecessary as it makes reading very difficult. Hence, your writing has to communicate simplicity.
Writing in simple terms has a lot of advantages. These advantages range from easier understanding to better interpretation.
Don’t make the mistake of believing that you need to express your use of “ambiguous” words in your personal statement.
Always stick to simplicity, simplicity rules.
4. Focus on your strengths
Your statement should primarily focus on your area of strengths. It’s not wise to state matters where you are not generally strong.
You have to properly outline your key areas of strength where you can do very well.
However, you must be sure to state how your strengths combine with your academic pursuits to help you achieve success.
We all in life don’t definitely have the same experiences and this is actually what makes us different.
This difference is immediately expressed in the way we execute responsibilities and perform tasks.
So, your writing style should by all degrees be different from that of someone else. Your uniqueness has to be dominant.
Indeed, admission councils understand how professionals write and will easily detect a personal statement for college that was written by a professional. Hence, this should encourage you to write your statement yourself.
Most times, it generally doesn’t fall to punctuation and structure but the desire to study and affect lives.
6. Grammatical construction
Now, many college applicants fall into the trap of trying to impress the admission council with grammar. Indeed, this is contrary to the goal.
The general idea is to use intelligible words in a manner that communicates meaning and a desire to study.
You only need to use certain ambiguous words when they actually best explain your point in a few lines.
The best rule of thumb is to keep it simple, straight to the point, and most importantly; inspiring.
Stories have been constantly told from generation to generation. In fact, it is a cultural practice that can’t die.
Stories are a beautiful style of communicating your life in a way that appeals to the emotions of people.
Through stories, humans can actually fix themselves in your place and feel what you feel.
Therefore, when crafting a good personal statement, a good hack is to start with stories.
For example; You can draw the story from your childhood where you illustrate how you dreamt to become a pilot by building paper out of cardboard paper.
Stories sell and they will continually do so.
Hey! It’s good to get to your point and state your mission but being too straightforward is boring.
Additionally, it will make your personal statement very brief and unprofessional also communicating laziness and unseriousness.
Hence, your personal college statement should have length – a minimum of 1,000 words is a great place to start.
Probably you might think it’s a very big challenge, it’s actually small. Because when you pick up your writing tools to begin, you will flow effortlessly.
Also Read: 4 Tips on Scholarship Letter Application with Samples
Personal Statement for College Examples
After you must have read these tips, you might still be a little confused about your statement journey. Don’t worry! We have taken research and gotten some great personal statements that can help you.
Hence, we will be giving you examples from goingmerry .
Essay: On why I want to study music
“My great-great-uncle Giacomo Ferrari was born in 1912 in Neverland, NY, the youngest of four sons. His parents had emigrated from Italy with his two eldest brothers in the early 1900s in search of a better life in America.
Their struggles as immigrants are in themselves inspiring, but the challenges they faced are undoubtedly similar to those that many other immigrant families had to overcome; because of this, the actions that my relatives embarked upon are that much more extraordinary.
Giacomo’s oldest brother Antonio, my great-grandfather, decided to take a correspondence course in violin and to teach his youngest brother Giacomo how to play as well.
Giacomo Ferrari eventually became an accomplished violinist and started a free “Lunchtime Strings” program for all the elementary schools in the Neverland area, giving free violin lessons and monthly concerts.
As a native English speaker who has had the privilege of studying viola and violin with trained, private teachers, I can only imagine the perseverance it took for my great-grandfather and great-great-uncle to learn an instrument like the violin out of booklets and lessons that were not even written in their native language.
Their passion and dedication to learning something new, something not part of their lives as blue-collar, immigrant workers, and their desire to share it with others, has inspired me as a musician and a person.
It is this spirit that has motivated me to pursue an MA at Composition at the University of XXX.”
Also Read: Cover letter for Scholarship
Essay: On why I want to study medicine
“My passion for teaching others and sharing knowledge emanates from my curiosity and love for learning. My shadowing experiences, in particular, have stimulated my curiosity and desire to learn more about the world around me.
How does platelet-rich plasma stimulate tissue growth? How does diabetes affect the proximal convoluted tubule? My questions never stopped.
I wanted to know everything and it felt very satisfying to apply my knowledge to clinical problems. distinct concepts together to form a coherent picture truly attracts me to medicine.
It is hard to separate science from medicine; in fact, medicine is science. However, medicine is also about people—their feelings, struggles, and concerns.
Humans are not pre-programmed robots that all face the same problems. They deserve sensitive and understanding physicians. Humans deserve doctors who are infinitely curious, constantly questioning new advents in medicine.
They deserve someone who loves the challenge of problem-solving and coming up with innovative individualized solutions.
I want to be that physician. I want to be able to approach each case as a unique entity and incorporate my strengths into providing personalized care for my patients.
Until that time, I may be found Friday mornings in the operating room, peering over shoulders, dreaming about the day I get to hold the drill.”
Essay: On living with depression
“Before I was diagnosed, I had been told it was a normal part of growing up. I was told that teens are moody. I would grow out of it. Sincerely, I couldn’t imagine anyone growing out of what I was feeling. I couldn’t imagine anyone surviving.
Diagnosis and medication have saved my life, allowing me to see the world as people without my brain chemistry would. […] what I found was a place of tiny kindnesses.
It might sound bad—as though kindness can only exist in the smallest forms. This is not what I mean. There are extraordinary people out there who devote their lives to doing very large, very important things for others.
I’m not talking about them, partially because they are extraordinary. They are not the norm.
What is normal are the tiny kindnesses. These do not cost a person much of anything. A slice of time, a moment of openness, and little else. They are a smile when you’re feeling down, a comforting hand on the shoulder, a moment to talk.”
What is the personal statement for college outline?
Your personal statement for college outline is what you create it to be. However, as we have earlier said, a statement is all about you.
We have listed all the tricks that can help you deliver an astounding statement.
In summary, the outline is just your title in addition to your explanation of your intention to study.
Also Read: Scholarship thank you letter
FAQs On How To Write A Personal Statement For College
You write a strong personal statement by clearly expressing your desire to study and how it will affect you and humanity.
You start off a personal statement by telling a story that communicates your drive to study.
Your personal statement will only stand out when it is unique, simple, and has a great flow.
A good length for a personal statement is nothing less than 400 words.
You introduce yourself at the beginning by telling a story of your history.
As a college applicant, your personal statement is the only biggest expression of your abilities apart from your results.
In fact, it tells more about your thinking capacity and communication intelligence.
There are no great statements by ranking. A great statement is one that comes from a desire to learn and grow demonstrated by the power of ink.
Don’t look down on yourself when it comes to writing, instead take initiative and watch your dreams come true.
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1 in 4 ACC students receive scholarship money after submitting an application. Get real advice from students and scholarship specialists to help you submit a successful application.
Scholarship Tips from ACC Students
Preparing to apply for scholarships.
I’m not really a straight-A student, should I still apply for scholarships?
ACC awards hundreds of scholarships to students based on their interests, heritage, work experience, and financial need, as well as good grades. With so many scholarships and 1 in 4 students receiving funds, submitting your application puts you in a great position to get money for college.
Do I need to complete my FAFSA before I start applying for scholarships?
You can apply and be accepted for scholarships before completing your FAFSA. However, after I finally finished my FAFSA with help from Financial Aid, I found out there was free grant money for me, in addition to my scholarships.
Filling Out the Application
Why does the scholarship application ask for work experience & what should I include?
Many scholarships are awarded to students based on their work history, so you should include any employment under work experience! For volunteer work, make sure to include it as a part of your community involvement resume, instead.
Can I take a break from the application & return later to finish?
Absolutely, I took a break after getting about halfway through and it made the rest of the application way easier for me. Just make sure to click “Save and Keep Editing” before leaving the page.
How do I get help completing my scholarship application?
Student Support Specialists are super helpful and work 1-on-1 to not only help you finish your application, but make it as good as you can to boost your scholarship chances. Email or schedule a virtual appointment today for help earning your scholarship money!
Finishing the Application & Writing a Personal Statement
Before I submit, should I submit anything under “Additional Documents?”
When you submit your application, you can also attach any additional documents that would help you get a scholarship. For example, an award letter for leadership in an extracurricular could boost your chances at many scholarships. Any practical experience or commitment to a hobby works too, to help show what you care about and are involved in. You can also upload a letter of recommendation.
What is a scholarship personal statement and how do I write one?
A personal statement (in this case) is a 250-500 word essay that helps us get to know you, your achievements and goals for college, and community involvement. Sharing your personal story within your essay helps us get to know you better. For help with your personal statement, contact the Learning Lab in your ACCelerator or visit ACC Online Tutoring .
Once my application is submitted, what’s my next step?
Filling out the application is all you need to do! You are automatically matched with scholarships that you meet the qualifications for and are best suited to you. If you’re selected, ACC’s Scholarship Office will notify you at your ACC email mid-summer.
Scholarship Dates and Deadlines
Use the scholarship dates listed below when submitting your application.
More Scholarship FAQs
Do I need to have my high school transcript to apply for a scholarship?
Incoming high school freshmen will need to upload their high school transcript when they submit the ACC General Scholarship Application. You can upload this at the end of the application, and it can be an unofficial copy.
Will my scholarship automatically be applied to tuition and fees?
The majority of ACC Foundation Scholarships are paid directly toward tuition and fees by the start of the semester. Depending on the amount of the scholarship, a book stipend may also be issued.
What is a merit based scholarship vs. a needs based scholarship?
Merit based scholarships are awarded to students based on their academic success and achievements, such as high grades. A need-based scholarship is awarded based on the financial need of a student as determined through the FAFSA.
What is a community involvement resume and why do I need it?
A community involvement resume is where you can list volunteer work, involvement with clubs and organizations, and other non-employment experience. When completing the application, you can attach a community involvement resume to show what you are interested and involved with, which will help ACC figure out what scholarships you can earn!
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How to Write a Personal Statement for College: A Step by Step Guide
By Jennie Flaming
Why do you need a personal statement anyway?
Some 4-year colleges and universities require or recommend a personal statement . In general, the more selective a or university, the more likely it is to require a personal statement.
You also need to submit a personal statement for many scholarship applications and gap year programs.
The good news is that once you have a personal statement written, you can use it over and over ! You may need to make some changes to it, but you don’t need to start from scratch every time. Some colleges and universities require more than one essay, but usually only one long one (500 words). Often, you even get a choice to submit any writing example!
The purpose of a personal statement is for a college, university, scholarship or another program to get to know more about who you are beyond your grades, test scores, and activities . They want to hear your STORY. What gets you going? Who are you? This is a different kind of writing than what students typically do for school or even for fun.
Often students are intimidated by writing the personal statement but I want to encourage you that YOU CAN DO THIS and it’s well worth the effort. I’ll break down the steps for you to help you get this done, and even have fun in the process. I have helped thousands of students complete their personal statement in the last fifteen years and I can help you too!
Before we get to the steps there are five important things NOT to do in your personal statement :
- Write about things that the reader can learn elsewhere in your application (like talking about the activities you are involved with or the classes you’ve taken)
- Write about something other than yourself (especially watch out for prompts that are about your “hero” because it’s very easy to write about them, not you.)
- Write about sports
- Write about trips
- Do NOT write your personal statement directly into an admissions application. Do it in Google docs or Word or somewhere else and then copy and paste into the application.
Before you tell me “but I have an AMAZING sports story” I want to share that the many, many admissions counselors I have worked with have said without exception that it is basically impossible to write a unique story about yourself that stands out on one of these topics. DON’T DO IT. It’s not because the story about sports or a trip is unimportant or that your experience didn’t shape who you are. It’s because admissions counselors report that it’s a very common story that a lot of people tell, and it’s hard to stand out. They also read about it a LOT. Find something else to write about!
Here are 9 steps to follow to write your personal statement without pain and suffering! Better yet, you’ll know that you have an amazing personal statement that helps the reader get to know who you are
Step 1: Brainstorming ideas for your personal statement
I highly recommend doing this BEFORE you look at the prompts offered by colleges, universities, or programs you’re considering applying to. Too late? No biggie. Try to put them out of your mind and instead think about things that are really important to who you are and if they would make for a story that’s interesting to you to write .
Try brainstorming several ideas and writing a few sentences about each. When you look back at your list, look for the one that grabs your attention and feels the most fun and interesting to you to write about. Try a few of these quick brainstorming activities to develop your list of ideas. You don’t need to do them all, just the ones that seem interesting. Try to write something for 3-5 of the prompts.
- Ask a friend or family member if they were to share one story about you in the last two years that makes them think of you, what would it be?
- Look through your phone photos from the last year (the time frame doesn’t matter, you can make it longer or shorter). What photo jumps out to you as being an important snapshot of who you are? Why?
- Find an object in your home that’s important to you. The thing you would grab first if you had to leave quickly and could never come back. What is it? Why does it matter?
- When was a time when everything changed for you (remember, no sports or trips)? What happened? How did it change you?
- What is the most difficult challenge you have dealt with so far (remember, no sports or trips)? How did you face it? How did it turn out?
- Think of an important place for you. Be very specific (the stepstool in my grandmothers kitchen, the bench at my neighborhood park). How does it make you feel?
- I’ll never forget the time…
- The best word I can use to describe myself is…
- The word my (family member, friend, coworker) would use to describe me is… (ask them!)
- One thing I do that no one else does is…
- One thing I don’t do that everyone else does is…
- One thing that surprises people about me is…
Step 2: Start Drafting your Personal Statement
From your brainstorming list, choose a few ideas that are the most interesting and exciting to you . Write a little more, maybe a paragraph. Ask someone to read them and tell you which they think is the most interesting. Consider their opinion, but ultimately it’s your writing so write what’s going to bring you the most joy!
Now you’re ready to write your first draft. Don’t worry too much about how it flows together, just get your thoughts down on paper. You can even write it initially as bullet points or a list of ideas if that helps you get going.
Step 3: Take a look at the prompts for colleges, universities, or programs you are applying to (Yes, this is step 3, NOT STEP 1!)
Now you’re ready to take a look at the prompts that you’re given. I guarantee you that what you’ve written will fit . Spend a bit of time thinking about any changes you need to make and how to pull it together.
If you’re working on your personal statement before you know for sure where you’re going to apply, you can start by reviewing the personal statement prompts for the Common App .
Some colleges or universities require additional supplemental writing, which is usually a bit shorter than the first personal statement. Make note of any additional writing you’ll need to do next. You can use the same process for the shorter supplemental writing or essays too!
STEP 4: Write the First Sentence
You want the first sentence to be the best one of your personal statement. A key to this is to provide some vivid and specific details right at the beginning to draw the reader in. Take one of your examples from the brainstorming exercise and add more details.
If you get stuck, ask yourself
- What did it look like?
- What did it feel like?
- What did it smell like?
- What did it sound like?
Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun! If something doesn’t fit, you don’t need to keep it. Asking yourself these questions can help unlock some interesting details you didn’t think of initially.
If you get really stuck here you can always come back and do this after the rest of the draft. NO RULES!
STEP 5: Write a Complete Draft
Build on what you already did, but now get it to a point where someone else can read it (It won’t be perfect and doesn’t need to be! Just readable for someone else).
Check your word count (in Google docs, go to TOOLS>WORD COUNT). Generally, a personal statement is about 500 words. If you go over, often the end gets cut off, so it’s important to not exceed the word limit. If you’re a bit under, that’s not a big deal.
If you’re close to the word limit for now (let’s say within 100 words) then move on to the next step. Add more details to make it longer or take away a section that is less relevant to make it shorter.
If you need to make it LONGER , try thinking of more specific, vivid details to show the reader what you’re talking about. Help them be in that moment with you!
If you need to make it SHORTER , look for details or thoughts that can be removed without effecting the story. Look for places where you brought in a new idea and take that out.
If you get stuck on making it longer or shorter, this is a great place to ask for help. See more details in the next step.
STEP 6: Ask someone else to read it and give you feedback
At this point, it’s really helpful to have someone read your personal statement and give you feedback. It’s particularly helpful if the person reading it knows about what you’re doing and understands the purpose of the essay. An ideal person would be a teacher that you have a relationship with or your school counselor .
If you don’t feel comfortable asking someone at school, you can ask anyone you know for feedback. It’s helpful to let them know what kind of feedback you need. For example, “would you read my personal statement and tell me if you think this essay gives a good sense of me as a person?
People will often go straight to copy editing (fixing spelling, grammar, and punctuation) and while you do want to do that eventually, at this point what you need is feedback on your overall ideas and story and if it accomplishes your goal, which is to help the reader get to know you better .
If you need to make it longer or shorter, ask the person who is reading it to give you feedback on things they think you could take out or places you could add more compelling details.
STEP 7: Revise Your Draft
Take the feedback you’ve received and work it into your final draft. Consider each piece of feedback you receive and decide what to work into your personal statement .
You might receive feedback that is conflicting and that’s totally OK. A personal statement is subjective and people will have different opinions. You’ll be the one to decide what goes into the final version.
STEP 8: Final Copy Editing (Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation)
Leave your personal statement at least overnight and then read it again. Make any changes you want to after setting it aside overnight.
Spell check your personal statement. Spelling errors are the most important ones to avoid, and easy to fix with a spell checker!
If possible, ask another person to read it, and this time ask them to do the copy editing to make sure your personal statement is as strong as possible.
STEP 9: Submit your personal statement!
You’re here! You’ve done it! Copy your personal statement from wherever you wrote it into the applications you’re working on. Save it to use and adapt for other essays later.
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Farmers To You
The BCIA is an official pick-up location for Farmers to You, a year-round on-line farm
Since April 2010, the BCIA has been in collaboration with the Cape Ann Fresh Catch (CAFC)
The Cove Community Center grounds include open green space and community garden plots.
The BCIA scholarship award of $1,000 is awarded each year to a graduating high school student.
Interested in learning how to knit? Know how to knit and would enjoy meeting.
Rent The Center
The BCIA organization owns and maintains the Cove Community Center. The hall and grounds are the location of most BCIA events and are also available for rental.
19 East Corning Street Beverly, MA 01915
Farmers to You
Rent the Center
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You need to engage the reader with your relevant thoughts and ideas, but not go overboard. Tutors said: 'The opening is your chance to introduce yourself, to explain your motivation for studying the course and to demonstrate your understanding of it. The best personal statements get to the point quickly. Go straight in.
College applications, and especially your personal statement, are when you should be bold and assert who you are. Show the parts of you that your transcripts and grades can't. Instead of writing what you think they want to read, write a piece that demonstrates who you are and is what you want to write. Share what matters to you.
A compelling personal statement starts with an introduction that briefly illustrates who you are. Besides introducing yourself, the introduction can briefly explain what educational program you're applying to and serve as a lead into your educational background and experiences.
Follow these steps to a good personal statement: 1. Craft a strong opening Begin with an opening sentence that interests your audience and makes them want to read more. Use your words to introduce the main idea of your response. You can start by describing a scene from your past or sharing a thought about what something means to you.
Generally, a personal statement for college should pursue three basic goals to be efficient and powerful: give an idea of your background; be illustrative of your objectives; be specific. With your background, try to include as many points as you can, but remember they should be relevant points.
A personal statement for college will be a requirement of nearly every application you complete. Admissions will use your personal statement to get a sense of who you are beyond your grades and scores. So, if you want to show colleges what makes you unique, your personal statement is the place to do it.
Here is a step-by-step breakdown on how to write a personal statement for college as recommended by our experts . Step 1: Brainstorm Before you start writing, it's essential to brainstorm your ideas. Consider the questions in the above section. What makes you unique? What challenges have you overcome that have made you who you are?
The answer is that a college personal statement sets you apart from your high school peers by explaining three ideas: Show your personality in your personal statement College admissions committees rely on your transcripts and GPA as a measure of your academic prowess. Letters of recommendation focus more on how others view you and how you interact.
Personal statements are required by many college admission offices and scholarship selection committees. They're a key part of your application, alongside your academic transcript, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities. The reason application committees ask you to write a personal statement is so they can get to know who you are.
That said, it is of the utmost importance that you find a focus. First, think about both your goals and your values. Types of goals include: Career goals. Goals for personal growth. The type of friend you want to be. The change you want to make in the world. Values could include: Authenticity.
The goal of your personal statement is to find a topic that demonstrates the skills, qualities, values, and interests you'll bring with you to a college campus. In fact, though we'll keep saying "topic" of your essay because it's clear and easy, the topic of your essay is ultimately always you.
Most people struggle with how to start their personal statement. Our best advice: Don't start writing until you have figured out the end of your story, described as a crisp set of well-thought-out longer-term goals. Defining this endpoint gives you the key to helping guide everything you will eventually flesh out in your applications.
The personal statement, as the "college essay" is commonly known, is required by most colleges; they receive it through the Common Application, Coalition Application, or a college's own application - each of which has its own length requirement (e.g., Common App: 250-650 words). Most applications provide a list of prompts from which you ...
The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories: 1. The general, comprehensive personal statement: This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms. 2.
An attention-grabbing personal statement might begin with an image that makes zero sense. Imagine pulling this out of a pile of personal statements: Smeared blood, shredded feathers. Clearly, the bird was dead. But wait, the slight fluctuation of its chest, the slow blinking of its shiny black eyes. No, it was alive.
An essential element of starting a personal statement is to express why you're enthusiastic about taking your chosen course. You need to demonstrate that you're aware of what you're getting yourself into in the process. Answer any of these prompt questions for inspiration: What do you find interesting about the course?
Therefore, we'll give you some tips on how to write a personal statement for college in 2022. Most times, applicants hire professional personal statement writers to do the job for them. A Schwartz study, carried out in 2004, totally backs up this statement in every degree and dimension. Hence, many schools have adopted other procedures to ensure they admit the best students. Now I believe a ...
First: Remember the purpose of writing a personal statement for a college application. The answer is to get into the colleges to which you are applying. You're not writing to express yourself, though good personal essay examples typically do that.
How Long Should A Personal Statement For College Be? A personal statement for college should not exceed 4,000 words and 45 lines. Basically, this is to avoid a very long and tiring read. It may seem too much, but your perspective may change as you start writing and you need to summarize all these relevant thoughts, skills and experiences.
A personal statement (in this case) is a 250-500 word essay that helps us get to know you, your achievements and goals for college, and community involvement. Sharing your personal story within your essay helps us get to know you better. For help with your personal statement, contact the Learning Lab in your ACCelerator or visit ACC Online ...
Step 2: Start Drafting your Personal Statement. From your brainstorming list, choose a few ideas that are the most interesting and exciting to you. Write a little more, maybe a paragraph. Ask someone to read them and tell you which they think is the most interesting.
A personal statement is a written document that typically highlights your personal, educational, and professional background and experiences. It is often required as part of a college or job application, and its purpose is to give the reader a better understanding of who you are and why you are a good fit for the position or program in question.
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Beverly CoveImprovement Association. Our purpose is to serve as a means for Beverly Cove residents to work together in creating a safe, pleasant, and civic-minded neighborhood by drawing on the interests and talents of the membership to foster community spirit, solve problems and improve the quality of life in the Cove. Join Renew.