Write Your Best Personal Statement with These Tips
College admissions essays provide students with a unique opportunity to present their best selves to an admissions committee. While grades and test scores can provide a snapshot of an applicant’s academic capabilities, a well-developed personal statement can help showcase who a student is as a whole.
Although different applicants may have unique creative processes, there are some universal tips that can help set every student up for success. Keep reading for tips to take your college admissions essay draft to the next level.
Review the Guidelines
Before you start writing, read the fine print carefully to ensure that you have a clear idea of exactly what is being asked of you. For personal statements for The Common Application, the word range is 250-650 words and applicants can choose from seven unique essay prompts. Take time to read each of the potential prompts carefully and consider different topic ideas before making your final selection.
Explore Multiple Topics
Don’t start writing the moment you have a single potential topic in mind; instead, take your time to really explore multiple concepts. Students should keep in mind that personal statements are an opportunity to present a new side of themselves or a glimpse of their personality to an admissions committee. Consequently, applicants may wish to consider discussing a passion, belief, or personal experience that cannot be found elsewhere in their application. In order to arrive at an essay topic that is meaningful and impactful, a little trial and error may be required. Listing out a handful of potential topics and drafting opening paragraphs for each can help students test drive different ideas and arrive at the one that suits them best.
Reflect on What Matters Most
The best personal statements are those that focus in on topics that students are passionate about. Choose an essay idea that really resonates with you, whether that is an experience that shaped your view of the world or a setback that redefined how you approach challenges. If you’re unsure about what topics to focus on, consider creating a bulleted list of your passions, interests, and goals. Include extracurricular activities, causes that relate to any volunteer work you are involved in, and any other experiences or ideas that genuinely excite you.
Some students may believe they need to sound smart or academic in order to win an admissions officer over. While a command of language is always impressive, it’s also important for students to let their own unique narrative voice shine through. Don't fill your essays with big words or fancy language to "sound smart." Admissions officers use personal statements to learn more about who an applicant is and what kind of role they might play on campus, so don’t be afraid to infuse your essay with your unique personality. An easy way to ensure that your essay feels authentic is to read your draft aloud to get a sense of how your writing sounds.
Don’t Shy Away From Editing
Personal statements are not complete once you wrap up your closing sentence. Instead, students should reread essays several times to ensure they have written something they are proud of. During your editing process, proofread for spelling and grammar errors and rework any sentences that sound a little bit off. Consider sharing your draft with a parent, close friend, or college counselor to review, but keep in mind that this is your unique opportunity to speak directly to the admissions office and ultimately you need to make the final call regarding all edits.
While drafting college admissions essays can seem stressful, students who start early and work strategically can create content that they are truly proud of. If you are working on your applications and looking for expert input, our team of admissions experts can help guide you throughout the process.