Ten Tips to Write Your Personal Statement to College Correctly

By Richard Nolan

A personal statement, also known as an autobiographical narrative essay, is often requested of college applicants. For some of us, an awesome personal statement is the only chance to get into the college of our dreams. For others, it is just another part of the application process, which increases the chances of getting in. Either way, we can all agree that a personal statement to college is an extremely important piece of writing – so it isn’t surprising that most people have trouble with it.

A good thing to do in order to write a nice personal statement is to distract yourself from all this pressure or at least make it less dreadful. However, in order to do so, you have to be confident enough. You need to understand that you know all the important details that are required to create a strong piece of writing – and I can help with that. That’s why I want to give you some important tips that could ease your personal statement writing process a bit as well as improve its quality.

  1. Ace the preparation.

While different people do writing work differently, you still cannot skip preparation part when it comes to writing a personal statement. You have to address the college you’re applying to and show them that you are really writing to them. You probably know what your dream college is famous for but if for some reason you don’t (or if you’re applying to many colleges just in case), be sure to do a proper research. This might sound obvious, but actually many students make the mistake of sending one personal statement to all colleges, forgetting that some of them do differ in some details.

  1. Write a plan.

A plan allows you to ensure that you mention all the points you consider important. Moreover, it also gives you a clear structure, thus simplifying your writing process greatly: all you need to do when you start writing is to simply stick to this plan. It’s a simple thing but it actually has a great impact on the writing process, allowing you to clear your mind a bit and focus on writing instead of trying to keep all the points you need to address in mind.

  1. Turn off the character counter.

Though a personal statement does have its limits, it’s better to forget about them at least during the writing process. The worst thing you could do to yourself during writing is to focus on how to fit into the character limit instead of focusing on a quality of your writing. Turn on the counter again after your personal statement is finished. Trust me, it will be much easier to adjust it to the required limit than to write it while seeing this limit.

  1. Take your time.

Don’t put this aside until the last moment. In fact, don’t rush at all. It’s important to take your time while writing a personal statement: this way you’ll be able to change something later, to come up with more good arguments and right words. So, be sure to start early and take it slow; this is not something you want to put off till the last minute. Make sure your personal statement follows a logical sequence of events and contains an introduction, body and conclusion.

  1. Tell them who you are.

The admission board is interested in bright students. But when they read your personal essay, they don’t want to know about your grades or test scores – they have them filed in a separate document, after all. So there’s no need to restate information that’s already listed in your transcript or on the application. What they are really interested in is your personality, goals, and passions. Start with a compelling introduction that explains what makes you interesting and unique. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine. Just don’t brag, don’t use weird jokes, and don’t try too hard to impress.

  1. Make it really personal.

Include how your experiences or hardships have changed your perspectives, shaped your interests, helped you develop leadership skills, given you the opportunity to serve others, or challenged you to set specific goals. Discuss important lessons you learned and how those life-changing moments have led you down this specific educational course. Admission board members are human too, and it’s important to remember it during your writing. Imagine people who you write this personal statement to and try to tailor your writing to these people, making it more personal and less formal.

  1. Persuade that you could be useful.

Your statement is called personal for a reason, but at the same time it’s important not to speak only about yourself all the time. While discussing any unique or special attributes about the school that fit your academic goals or interests, don’t simply focus on your own reasons for getting into this college. For example, you can mention that your aunt is a local news reporter and you want to follow in her footsteps. But the admissions board also wants to know what you have to offer the college. That’s why you should end on a strong note and think of the ways you can benefit your dream college.

  1. Don’t copy anyone else’s essay.

Reading other people’s essays might seem like a good idea, but not if it simply confuses you or makes you repeat someone else’s mistakes. Besides, the essay is meant to be a reflection of your own personality and unique style. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to look at examples of some awesome personal statements – just as long as you’re not tempted to copy them.

  1. Edit well.

If you think that your first draft is good, think again. Maybe you’ve missed some typos. Maybe you forgot to add important details. It’s important to make your personal statement as flawless as possible, so you should edit at least a couple of times. Moreover, showing it to the others is a good idea too: maybe your friends or your parents could suggest something interesting or correct something. Even though you won’t receive a grade on your personal statement, proper grammar, logical sentence structure, and error-free spelling will help you stand out as a polished applicant.

  1. Stop re-reading it once you’re done.

Let’s imagine that you’ve finished your essay, edited it, and send it to the college of your dreams. That’s great! However, not all students actually stop at this point: some continue re-reading their essays thinking about things they could have added or changed. That’s a bad thing to do: this way you’ll simply stress yourself even more. Instead, congratulate yourself on the work well done and try to rest. If you’ve done your best, there’s probably nothing to worry about. And even if not, re-reading your work will still lead you nowhere.

As you see, while writing a personal statement is an important task, you shouldn’t be scared of it so much. After all, that’s a paper about you – and who knows you better than you know yourself?

I hope that these tips will help you to ease your nervousness at least a bit and complete your personal statement successfully. Good luck with getting into the college of your dreams!

About the Author: Richard Nolan is a blogger and a private tutor, sharing his experience in spheres of  blogging, self-growth, and psychology. Richard writes for numerous blogs and gives useful tips for bloggers, students, and teachers.

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