Admission News

Tips for Writing the Personal Statement on your College Application

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Daunting, isn’t it! What to say? What to reveal? What is too personal? The best thing to do when you are faced with writing your personal essay is not to think about it as a daunting task. Think about it as the less-bureaucratic part of your college application which allows you to just be yourself.

Of course, there are still ways to put forth your best effort. Here are some tips.

1. First, brainstorm what it is about yourself that you want to tell. Your views of life: You know people are generally helpful. You believe life is hard but those hardships help you cope. Your interests: You like to do things that challenge you. You have interests that reveal your curiosity. Your personality: You stand up for what you believe. You are independent.

2. Now, how do you write the essay? Perhaps the best way to tackle it is to write about an event or experience that illustrates your life view, your interests, or your personality. Write it as a narrative, or as a story.

3. But, a blow-by-blow story told chronologically can be boring. So? The first thing you want to do is capture the reader’s attention. (Remember, these admissions essay readers are reading thousands of essays.) Do not start with a thesis statement or anything resembling it, like : “My experience with rats shows my curious nature.” Rather, start with dialogue: “You’re going to put that rat in your bed room!” Use a single descriptive word: “Flea-ridden.” Strat with a bold statement: “Rats are actually miniature professors.” Or, start in the middle of your story, just before the climax: “Before I knew it, I would, likely have a dead rat on my hands.”

4. And, don’t simply tell. Leave out details to create some climactic drama. Also use words that show and don‘t just tell. Don’t write: “I love people.” Show your compassion for people with your words: ‘”I reached out and took that little girl’s hand and felt a tickle behind my eyes when she looked up at me with a small smile tugging at her lips.”

Yes, you will write multiple drafts. Yes, you will have readers give you advice that will require changes. Yes, you will have doubt. But, try to have fun with this and be yourself.