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Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.

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How to Write an Amazing Personal Statement (Includes Examples!)

how to write college personal statement

Lisa Freedland is a Scholarships360 writer with personal experience in psychological research and content writing. She has written content for an online fact-checking organization and has conducted research at the University of Southern California as well as the University of California, Irvine. Lisa graduated from the University of Southern California in Fall 2021 with a degree in Psychology.

Learn about our editorial policies

Zach Skillings is the Scholarships360 Newsletter Editor. He specializes in college admissions and strives to answer important questions about higher education. When he’s not contributing to Scholarships360, Zach writes about travel, music, film, and culture. His work has been published in Our State Magazine, Ladygunn Magazine, The Nocturnal Times, and The Lexington Dispatch. Zach graduated from Elon University with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.

how to write college personal statement

Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

how to write college personal statement

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

How to Write an Amazing Personal Statement (Includes Examples!)

The personal statement. It’s one of the most important parts of the entire college application process. This essay is the perfect opportunity to show admissions officers who you are and what makes you stand out from the crowd. But writing a good personal statement isn’t exactly easy. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide on how to nail your personal statement, complete with example essays . Each essay was reviewed and commented upon by admissions expert Bill Jack. Let’s dive in!

Related: How to write an essay about yourself  

What is a personal statement? 

A personal statement is a special type of essay that’s required when you’re applying to colleges and scholarship programs. In this essay, you’re expected to share something about who you are and what you bring to the table. Think of it as a chance to reveal a side of yourself not found in the rest of your application. Personal statements are typically around 400 – 600 words in length. 

What can I write about? 

Pretty much anything, as long as it’s about you . While this is liberating in the sense that your writing options are nearly unlimited, it’s also overwhelming for the same reason. The good news is that you’ll probably be responding to a specific prompt. Chances are you’re applying to a school that uses the Common App , which means you’ll have seven prompts to choose from . Reviewing these prompts can help generate some ideas, but so can asking yourself meaningful questions. 

Below you’ll find a list of questions to ask yourself during the brainstorming process. For each of the following questions, spend a few minutes jotting down whatever comes to mind. 

  • What experiences have shaped who you are? 
  • What’s special or unique about you or your life story? 
  • Who or what has inspired you the most? 
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of? 
  • What are your goals for the future? How have you arrived at those goals? 
  • If your life was a movie, what would be the most interesting scene? 
  • What have been some of the biggest challenges in your life? How did you respond and what did you learn? 

The purpose of these questions is to prompt you to think about your life at a deeper level. Hopefully by reflecting on them, you’ll find an essay topic that is impactful and meaningful. In the next section, we’ll offer some advice on actually writing your essay. 

Also see:  How to write a 500 word essay

How do I write my personal statement? 

Once you’ve found a topic, it’s time to start writing! Every personal statement is different, so there’s not really one formula that works for every student. That being said, the following tips should get you started in the right direction:  

1. Freewrite, then rewrite 

The blank page tends to get more intimidating the longer you stare at it, so it’s best to go ahead and jump right in! Don’t worry about making the first draft absolutely perfect. Instead, just get your ideas on the page and don’t spend too much time thinking about the finer details. Think of this initial writing session as a “brain dump”. Take 15-30 minutes to quickly empty all your thoughts onto the page without worrying about things like grammar, spelling, or sentence structure. You can even use bullet points if that helps. Once you have your ideas on the page, then you can go back and shape them exactly how you want. 

2. Establish your theme 

Now that you’ve got some basic ideas down on the page, it’s time to lock in on a theme. Your theme is a specific angle that reflects the central message of your essay. It can be summarized in a sentence or even a word. For example, let’s say you’re writing about how you had to establish a whole new group of friends when you moved to a new city. The theme for this type of essay would probably be something like “adaptation”. Having a theme will help you stay focused throughout your essay. Since you only have a limited number of words, you can’t afford to go off on tangents that don’t relate to your theme. 

3. Tell a story

A lot of great essays rely on a specific scene or story. Find the personal anecdote relevant to your theme and transfer it to the page. The best way to do this is by using descriptive language. Consult the five senses as you’re setting the scene. What did you see, hear, taste, touch, or smell? How were you feeling emotionally? Using descriptive language can really help your essay come to life. According to UPchieve , a nonprofit that supports low income students, focusing on a particular moment as a “ revised version of a memoir ” is one way to keep readers engaged. 

Related: College essay primer: show, don’t tell  

4. Focus on your opening paragraph

Your opening paragraph should grab your reader’s attention and set the tone for the rest of your essay. In most cases, this is the best place to include your anecdote (if you have one). By leading with your personal story, you can hook your audience from the get-go. After telling your story, you can explain why it’s important to who you are. 

Related:  How to start a scholarship essay (with examples)

5. Use an authentic voice 

Your personal statement reflects who you are, so you should use a tone that represents you. That means you shouldn’t try to sound like someone else, and you shouldn’t use fancy words just to show off. This isn’t an academic paper, so you don’t have to adopt a super formal tone. Instead, write in a way that allows room for your personality to breathe. 

6. Edit, edit, edit…

Once you’re done writing, give yourself some time away from the essay. Try to allow a few days to pass before looking at the essay again with fresh eyes. This way, you’re more likely to pick up on spelling and grammatical errors. You may even get some new ideas and rethink the way you wrote some things. Once you’re satisfied, let someone else edit your essay. We recommend asking a teacher, parent, or sibling for their thoughts before submitting. 

Examples of personal statements 

Sometimes viewing someone else’s work is the best way to generate inspiration and get the creative juices flowing. The following essays are written in response to four different Common App prompts: 

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.”

When I was eight years old, I wanted a GameCube very badly. For weeks I hounded my dad to buy me one and finally he agreed. But there was a catch. He’d only get me a GameCube if I promised to start reading. Every day I played video games, I would have to pick up a book and read for at least one hour. At that point in my life, reading was just something I had to suffer through for school assignments. To read for pleasure seemed ludicrous. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about this proposed agreement. But I figured anything was worth it to get my hands on that shiny new video game console, so I bit the bullet and shook my dad’s hand. Little did I know that I had just made a life-changing deal. 

At first, the required hour of reading was a chore — something I had to do so I could play Mario Kart. But it quickly turned into something more than that. To my complete and utter surprise, I discovered that I actually enjoyed reading. One hour turned into two, two turned into three, and after a while I was spending more time reading than I was playing video games. I found myself captivated by the written word, and I read everything I could get my hands on. Lord of the Rings , Percy Jackson , Goosebumps — you name it. I was falling in love with literature, while my GameCube was accumulating dust in the TV stand. 

Soon enough, reading led to writing. I was beginning to come up with my own stories, so I put pen to paper and let my imagination run wild. It started out small. My first effort was a rudimentary picture book about a friendly raccoon who went to the moon. But things progressed. My stories became more intricate, my characters more complex. I wrote a series of science fiction novellas. I tried my hand at poetry. I was amazed at the worlds I could create with the tip of my pen. I had dreams of becoming an author. 

Then somewhere along the way my family got a subscription to Netflix, and that completely changed the way I thought about storytelling. My nose had been buried in books up until then, so I hadn’t really seen a lot of movies. That quickly changed. It seemed like every other day a pair of new DVDs would arrive in the mail (this was the early days of Netflix). Dark Knight, The Truman Show, Inception, Memento — all these great films were coming in and out of the house. And I couldn’t get enough of them. Movies brought stories to life in a way that books could not. I was head over heels for visual storytelling. 

Suddenly I wasn’t writing novels and short stories anymore. I was writing scripts for movies. Now I wanted to transfer my ideas to the big screen, rather than the pages of a book. But I was still doing the same thing I had always done. I was writing, just in a different format. To help with this process, I read the screenplays of my favorite films and paid attention to the way they were crafted. I kept watching more and more movies. And I hadn’t forgotten about my first love, either. I still cherished books and looked to them for inspiration. By the end of my junior year of high school, I had completed two scripts for short films. 

So why am I telling you all this? Because I want to turn my love of storytelling into a career. I’m not totally sure how to do that yet, but I know I have options. Whether it’s film production, creative writing, or even journalism, I want to find a major that suits my ambitions. Writing has taken me a long way, and I know it can take me even further. As I step into this next chapter of my life, I couldn’t be more excited to see how my craft develops. In the meantime, I should probably get rid of that dusty old GameCube. 

Feedback from admissions professional Bill Jack

Essays don’t always have to reveal details about the student’s intended career path, but one thing I like about this essay is that it gives the reader a sense of the why. Why do they want to pursue storytelling. It also shows the reader that they are open to how they pursue their interest. Being open to exploration is such a vital part of college, so it’s also showing the reader that they likely will be open to new things in college. And, it’s always fun to learn a little bit more about the student’s family, especially if the reader can learn about how the students interacts with their family. 

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?”

I remember my first impression of Irvine: weird. It was foggy, stock-full of greenery and eucalyptus trees, and reminded me of my 5th grade trip to a “science camp” which was located in the San Bernardino mountains. Besides Irvine, that was one of the few places in Southern California where you’d find so many non-palm trees. 

Of course, perhaps my initial impression of Irvine was biased, motivated by a desire to stay in my hometown and a fear of the unknown. While that was true to an extent, Irvine was certainly still a little peculiar. The city itself was based on a “master plan” of sorts, with the location of each of its schools, parks, shops, and arguably its trees having been logically “picked” before the foundation was poured. Even the homes all looked roughly the same, with their beige, stucco walls almost serving as a hallmark of the city itself.

Thus, this perfectly structured, perfectly safe city seemed like a paradise of sorts to many outsiders, my parents included. I was a little more hesitant to welcome this. As I saw it, this was a phony city – believing that its uniformity stood for a lack of personality. My hometown, although not as flawlessly safe nor clean as Irvine, was where most of my dearest memories had occurred. From the many sleepovers at Cindie’s house, to trying to avoid my school’s own version of the “infamous” cheese touch, to the many laughs shared with friends and family, I shed a tear at the prospect of leaving my home.

Moving into the foreign city, remnants of the hostility I held towards Irvine remained. Still dwelling in my memories of the past, I was initially unable to see Irvine as a “home.” So, as I walked into my first-ever Irvine class, being greeted by many kind, yet unfamiliar faces around me, I was unable to recognize that some of those new faces would later become some of my dearest friends. Such negative feelings about the city were further reinforced by newer, harder classes, and more complicated homework. Sitting in the discomfort of this unfamiliar environment, it started to seem that “change” was something not only inevitable, but insurmountable.

As the years went on, however, this idea seemed to fade. I got used to my classes and bike racing through Irvine neighborhoods with my friends, watching the trees that once seemed just a “weird” green blob soon transform into one of my favorite parts of the city. While I kept my old, beloved memories stored, I made space for new ones. From carefully making our way over the narrow creek path next to our school, to the laughs we shared during chemistry class, my new memories made with friends seemed to transform a city I once disliked into one I would miss. 

Through this transformation, I have come to recognize that change, although sometimes intimidating at first, can open the door to great times and meaningful connections. Although Irvine may have once seemed like a strange, “phony” place that I couldn’t wait to be rid of, the memories and laughs I had grown to share there were very real. As I move onto this next part of my life, I hope I can use this knowledge that I have gained from my time in Irvine to make the most of what’s to come. Even if the change may be frightening at first, I have learned to embrace what’s on the other side, whether green or not.

One huge plus to writing an essay that focuses on a place is that you might have it read by someone who has been there. Yet, what’s really helpful about this essay is that even if someone hasn’t been there, a picture is painted about what the place is like.  Admission officers have the hard task of really understanding what the student sees, so the use of adjectives and imagery can really help.  It’s also really clever to see that the green that’s mentioned at the beginning is mentioned at the end.  It’s a nice way to bookend the essay and tie it all together.

Prompt 6: “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?”

I like getting lost. Not literally, of course, but figuratively. Whether it be in the story of a love song by Taylor Swift, or in the memories brought back by listening to my favorite childhood video game’s background music, I’ve always appreciated music’s ability to transport me to another place, another time, another feeling. 

Alas, I cannot sing, nor have I practiced an instrument since my middle school piano class days. So, perhaps Kurt Vonnegut was right. As he puts it, “Virtually every writer I know would rather be a musician.” While I cannot speak for others, I have certainly not debunked his theory. Writing allows many, including myself, to attempt to mimic the transformative power of music – even if our singing voices aren’t exactly “pleasant.” Just as you can get lost in music, you can do so in a story. Whether it is in George Orwell’s totalitarian Oceania, or Little Women’s Orchard House, the stories outlined in novels can provide an amazing look into the lives and worlds of others, and an escape from the worries and problems of those in your own.

While I am certainly not claiming to have the storytelling abilities of the Orwells or Alcotts before me, I’ve had fun trying to recreate such transformative feelings for others. When I was nine, I attempted to write a story about a little girl who had gotten lost in the woods, only managing to get a couple pages through. As I got older, whenever I was assigned a creative writing assignment in school, I wrote about the same pig, Phil. He was always angry: in my 8th grade science class, Phil was mad at some humans who had harbored his friend captive, and in my 9th grade English class, at a couple who robbed him. 

Thus, when I heard about a writing club being opened at my school in 11th grade, I knew I had to join. I wanted to discern whether writing was just a hobby I picked up now and then, or a true passion. If it was a passion, I wanted to learn as much as possible about how I could improve. Although my high school’s writing club certainly wasn’t going to transform me into Shakespeare, I knew I could learn a lot from it – and I did. The club challenged me to do many things, from writing on the spot, to writing poetry, to even writing about myself, something that’s hopefully coming in handy right now. 

From then on, I started to expand into different types of writing, storing short ideas, skits, and more in appropriately-labeled Google Drive folders. At around the same time, I became interested in classic literature, which largely stemmed from a project in English class. We had been required to choose and read a classic on our own, then present it to the class in an interesting way. While my book was certainly interesting and unique in its own right, nearly everyone else’s novels seemed more captivating to me. So, I took it upon myself to read as many classics as I could the following summer.

One of the books I read during the summer, funnily enough, was Animal Farm, which starred angry pigs, reminiscent of Phil. I had also started going over different ideas in my head, thinking about how I could translate them into words using the new skills I learned. While the writing club helped reaffirm my interest in writing and allowed me to develop new skills, my newfound affinity for classics gave me inspiration to write. Now, I am actually considering writing as part of my future. In this endeavor, I hope that Phil, and the music I inevitably listen to as I write, will accompany me every step of the way.

Admission officers might read 70 (or more!) essays in one day. It’s not uncommon for them to start to blend together and sound similar. This essay might not make you laugh out loud. But, it might make the reader chuckle while reading it thanks to the subtle humor and levity. Being able to incorporate a little humor into your essay (if it is natural for you to do… do not force it), can really be a great way to shed additional light into who you are. Remember, the essay isn’t merely about proving that you can write, but it should also reveal a little bit about your personality.

Prompt 5: “Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.”

I learned a lot of things during the summer I worked at Tropical Smoothie. I discovered the value of hard work. I figured out how to save money. I even mastered the art of the Mango Magic smoothie (the secret is lots of sugar). But most importantly, I learned the power of perspective. And I have Deja to thank for that. 

Deja was my shift supervisor, and one of Tropical Smoothie’s best employees. She was punctual, friendly, and always willing to lend a helping hand. She knew the store from top to bottom, and could handle pretty much any situation thrown her way. She made everyone around her better. On top of all that, she was four months pregnant! I was always impressed by Deja’s work ethic, but I gained an entirely new level of respect for her one day.

It was a Friday night, and Deja and I were working the closing shift together. It was very busy, and Deja and I were the only ones on shift. We managed to get by, but we were exhausted by the end of the evening. After wiping down the counters and mopping the floors, we closed up shop and went our separate ways. I was eager to get home. 

I walked a couple blocks to where I had parked my car. Well, it wasn’t my car actually. It was my dad’s ‘98 Chevy pickup truck, and it was in rough shape. It had no heat or A/C, the leather seats were cracked beyond repair, and the driver’s side door was jammed shut. I sighed as I got in through the passenger side and scooted over to the driver’s seat. The whole reason I was working at Tropical Smoothie was to save up enough money to buy my own car. I was hoping to have something more respectable to drive during my senior year of high school. 

I cranked the old thing up and started on my way home. But soon enough, I spotted Deja walking on the side of the road. There was no sidewalk here, the light was low, and she was dangerously close to the passing cars. I pulled over and offered her a ride. She got in and explained that she was on her way home. Apparently she didn’t have a car and had been walking to work every day. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was complaining about my set of wheels, while Deja didn’t have any to begin with.

We got to talking, and she confessed that she had been having a tough time. You would never know from the way she was so cheerful at work, but Deja had a lot on her plate. She was taking care of her mother, her boyfriend had just lost his job, and she was worried about making ends meet. And of course, she was expecting a baby in five months. On top of all that, she had been walking nearly a mile to and from work every day. The whole thing was a real eye opener, and made me reconsider some things in my own life. 

For one, I didn’t mind driving my dad’s truck anymore. It was banged up, sure, but it was a lot better than nothing. My mindset had changed. I appreciated the truck now. I began to think about other things differently, too. I started making mental notes of all the things in my life I was thankful for — my family, my friends, my health. I became grateful for what I had, instead of obsessing over the things I didn’t. 

I also gained more awareness of the world outside my own little bubble. My encounter with Deja had shown me first-hand that everyone is dealing with their own problems, some worse than others. So I started paying more attention to my friends, family members, and coworkers. I started listening more and asking how I could help. I also gave Deja a ride home for the rest of the summer. 

These are all small things, of course, but I think they make a difference. I realized I’m at my best when I’m not fixated on my own life, but when I’m considerate of the lives around me. I want to keep this in mind as I continue to grow and develop as a person. I want to continue to search for ways to support the people around me. And most importantly, I want to keep things in perspective.

Too often we can be focused on our own problems that we fail to realize that everyone has their own things going on in their lives, too.  This essay showcases how it’s important to put things in perspective, a skill that certainly will prove invaluable in college… and not just in the classroom.  Another reason I like this essay is because it provides deeper insight into the student’s life.  Sure, you might have mentioned in your activities list that you have a job.  But as this essay does, you can show why you have the job in the first place, what your responsibilities are, and more.

A few last tips

We hope these essay examples gave you a bit of inspiration of what to include in your own. However, before you go, we’d like to send you off with a few (personal statement) writing tips to help you make your essays as lovely as the memories and anecdotes they’re based off of. Without further ado, here are some of our best tips for writing your personal statements:

1. Open strong

College admissions officers read many, many essays (think 50+) a day, which can sometimes cause them to start blending together and sounding alike. One way to avoid your essay from simply fading into the background is to start strong. This means opening your essay with something memorable, whether an interesting personal anecdote, a descriptive setting, or anything else that you think would catch a reader’s attention (so long as it’s not inappropriate). Not only might this help college admissions officers better remember your essay, but it will also make them curious about what the rest of your essay will entail.

2. Be authentic

Perhaps most important when it comes to writing personal statement essays is to maintain your authenticity. Ultimately, your essays should reflect your unique stories and quirks that make you who you are, and should help college admissions officers determine whether you’d truly be a good fit for their school or not. So, don’t stress trying to figure out what colleges are looking for. Be yourself, and let the colleges come to you!

3. Strong writing

This one may seem a little obvious, but strong writing will certainly appeal to colleges. Not only will it make your essay more compelling, but it may show colleges that you’re ready for college-level essay writing (that you’ll likely have to do a lot of). Just remember that good writing is not limited to grammar. Using captivating detail and descriptions are a huge part of making your essay seem more like a story than a lecture.

4. Proofread

Last but not least, remember to proofread! Make sure your essay contains no errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. When you’re done proofreading your essay yourself, we would also recommend that you ask a teacher, parent, or other grammatically savvy person to proofread your essay as well.

Final thoughts 

With those in hand, we hope you now have a better sense of how to write your personal statement. While your grades and test scores are important when it comes to college admissions, it’s really your essays that can “make” or “break” your application. 

Although this may make it seem like a daunting task, writing an amazing personal statement essay is all about effort. Thus, so long as you start early, follow the advice listed above, and dedicate your time and effort to it, it’s entirely possible to write an essay that perfectly encapsulates you. Good luck, and happy writing!

Also see:  Scholarships360’s free scholarships search tool

Key Takeaways

  • It may take some people longer than others to know what they want to write about, but remember that everyone, including you, has something unique to write about!
  • Personal statements should be personal, which means you should avoid being too general and really strive to show off what makes you “you”
  • Time and effort are two of the most important things you can put into your personal statement to ensure that it is the best representation of yourself
  • Don’t forget to ask people who know you to read your work before you submit; they should be able to tell you better than anyone if you are truly shining through!

Frequently asked questions about writing personal statements 

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How to Write a Personal Statement (with Tips and Examples)

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Hannah Yang

How to write a personal statement

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.

personal statement definition

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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how to write college personal statement

How to Write a Personal Statement for College (15+ Examples)

Tips on how to write a personal statement for college

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/25/24

Are you struggling to write your college personal statement? You’re in luck! Read on for a complete guide on how to write a strong personal statement.

Writing a personal statement can feel daunting. May students struggle to frame themselves the way they want to — and we get it! It’s not always easy to talk about yourself. With that said, how do you write a compelling personal statement?

We’ll review how to write the perfect personal statement, from what colleges look for to successful examples of personal statements. 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, providing you with the opportunity to sell yourself in the application process. It shares information beyond what admissions committees have already seen in your other application materials.

This is your chance to show colleges your personality, 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 tell admissions committees about you. General or open-ended personal statements are common in med or law school applications.

A response personal statement is an essay answering a specific question and is more common for college applications. These questions guide your writing but are geared toward getting to know you. 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?” 

Think about a story, moment, or lifestyle change that has shaped who you are today or influenced your educational and career goals. These experiences often make great personal statement topics! 

Why Do Colleges Ask for a Personal Statement?

Colleges ask for personal statements to have the applicant present themselves to the admission committee, beyond their grades on paper. Essays humanize candidates, allowing them to express themselves and their passions. 

Your personal statement can give you a competitive edge against other candidates if it stands out. When brainstorming topics, consider the unique experiences you’ve had that have shaped who you are. 

What to Include in a Personal Statement for College

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Before getting started, include all the necessary information you want admissions committees to know. Your personal statement could answer some or all of the following questions:

  • What is something unique in your life that has shaped you into who you are today? (Consider your culture, heritage, hometown, health, family traditions, hobbies, etc.)
  • What event first sparked your interest in your chosen field? 
  • What have you learned about your interest area so far, and what more do you hope to learn during college? (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? 
  • How do you specifically intend to contribute to your field 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. While all of your answers may not be relevant to the prompt you chose, they can help you get started! 

Note that a personal statement is different from a statement of purpose , in which you would focus more on your academic aspirations and goals. Statements of purpose are typically required for graduate school applications.

How to Write a Personal Statement for College

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to write a college personal statement.

Step 1: Brainstorm 

Before you start writing, it’s essential to brainstorm; this is a valuable personal statement tip. Consider the questions above. What makes you unique? What challenges have you overcome? Ensure you answer each question in the 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 many ideas – even silly ones! You may be surprised by what comes to mind. By the time you move on to the next step, you should have at least five anecdotes to choose from and several pieces of information you want to include.

Make sure to keep the prompt in mind. Your prompt may cancel out some ideas if they don’t relate. 

Step 2: Select Your Strongest Ideas

Evaluate your brainstorming notes. Which story from your life compels you the most? Whichever idea gets you excited to write is likely the one you should choose. 

The story you write 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 write, 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 before getting to the meat of the story.

Step 4: Tell Your Story

Your story should answer the prompt and show admissions committees what makes you a unique and qualified candidate. This is the main chunk of your essay. Ensure your writing is self-reflective, concise, and straightforward.

While your narrative should center on an experience you’ve had, the central theme should be bigger than that. Your takeaway should be a 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 end of your college essay is a crucial moment for the reader, so spending a lot of time here is important. This is the last thing the admissions officers will read, so it should be memorable. You want to ensure your narrative comes full circle and has a common thread. 

How you write your college personal statement’s conclusion is up to you; some students like to look toward the future, whereas others have different ideas about ending a personal statement ! 

Step 6: Revise, Revise, Revise

Once you’ve completed the writing portion, it’s 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. 

When giving your essay to someone else, ask if they agree with the following points:

  • 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 an effective conclusion in which the main theme of the essay is clear (i.e., what you’ve learned, your goals, or character traits).

You should also ask your revision partner what they’ve learned about you and ask yourself if their takeaway aligns with your original intention. Sometimes the intended message doesn’t always come across as it does in our heads, so this is an essential final step. 

You can ask a friend, parent, or teacher to proofread your essay for you. You can also get expert insight from our team at Quad Education to help you create the highest-quality personal statement possible!

The Benefits of Reviewing Personal Statement Samples

When it comes to crafting a compelling personal statement, it can be challenging to know where to start. One effective strategy is to review personal statement samples from successful applicants. 

By understanding these examples, you can gain valuable insights and inspiration to help you create a standout personal statement of your own. Here are some key benefits of reviewing personal statement samples:

1. Understanding the Structure

Personal statement samples provide a clear picture of how to structure your own essay. You can observe how successful applicants introduce themselves, discuss their experiences and achievements, and tie everything together with a strong conclusion.

2. Identifying Key Themes and Patterns

As you review personal statement samples, you'll likely notice recurring themes and topics. Successful applicants often discuss their passions, challenges they've overcome, and their goals for the future. 

3. Gaining Inspiration

Reading personal statement samples can also provide a much-needed dose of inspiration. Seeing how others have successfully conveyed their stories and personalities can spark ideas for your own essay. You may discover new ways to frame your experiences or find inspiration for a creative opening or closing paragraph.

4. Avoiding Common Pitfalls

In addition to showing what to do, personal statement samples can also help you avoid common mistakes. By reading through a variety of examples, you can identify overused phrases, clichés, and other pitfalls to avoid in your own writing. This can help you craft a personal statement that stands out from the crowd and truly reflects your individual voice and experiences.

5. Seeing Successful Examples

Perhaps most importantly, reviewing personal statement samples allows you to see what successful essays look like. You can gain a sense of the writing style, tone, and level of detail that admissions committees are looking for to stand out as a strong applicant.

So, take the time to read through the following examples and use the insights you gain to create a compelling personal statement of your own.

College Personal Statement Examples 

Here are some examples of good personal statements and explanations of their success. These examples can provide inspiration to formulate your own writing. You can also find more examples of college admission essays in our database to give you even more inspiration. 

#1. Personal Statement Example

This is an example of a personal statement that worked from a student named Rozanne who was accepted to Johns Hopkins University:

“ The white yarn slipped off my aluminium crochet hook, adding a single crochet to rows and rows of existing stitches, that looked to be in the form of a blob. Staring at the image of the little unicorn amigurumi lit up on the screen of my laptop, and looking back at the UMO (unidentified messy object) number five, I was extremely perplexed.

…The remaining rounds were blurred into hours and minutes that should have resulted in a little white creature in the likeness of a unicorn, but sitting on my desk (much like the four days before today) was a pool of tangled white yarn…

Very much like learning how to crochet, my journey in forging my own path and finding a passion was confusing, messy and at times infuriating. Even in primary school, I had heard all the stories of individuals finding their own route in life. I had been told stories of those who found their passion at a young age and were exceptionally proficient at their craft, of those that abandoned their interests and pursued a lucrative career, even those who chose their dreams but regretted it afterwards. This weighed heavily on me, as I was determined to have a success story as many of my other family members had. The only problem was that I did not have a direction.

In the years following primary school, I stepped out of my comfort zone in a frenzy to find a passion…At my ballet school, I branched out to contemporary and jazz dance. I stuffed myself with an experience similar to an amigurumi engorged with batting. I found myself enjoying all of those activities but soon enough, I was swamped with extracurriculars. Just like the tangles of white yarn on my desk, I was pulled in all directions. I still felt lost…

It was not until high school that I realized that I could view this mission to find a passion from another perspective. While successfully completing a crochet project is an accomplishment itself, the motions of making slip knots, single or double crochets takes you on an adventure as well. The knots that I had encountered in my craft were evidence of my experiences and what shaped me as an individual…

Through trial and error, the current adventure that I am on resonates the most with me, taking me down the path of service and environmental activism. However, I have learnt that no one path is static, and I can be on more than one path at a time. While I may only be halfway to the proportionate unicorn amigurumi that some others may have already achieved, I still have so much to learn and so much that I want to learn, and so my journey to grow continues. ”

Why This Personal Statement Worked 

Rozanne’s narrative expertly showcases her hobby (which may not have been discussed elsewhere in her application) and connects it to her struggles to find direction and passion when everyone else seems to have everything figured out. 

Her strength in this essay is reflecting upon that idea: it also shows us her vulnerability. Beyond continually weaving in the analogy of a messy crochet project and her perceived lack of direction, this essay also shows she’s a curious individual willing to try new things. 

It also helps that she refers to the ideas in her introduction, conclusion, and the rest of her essay. Circling back to her crocheting hobby creates a nice narrative thread.

#2. Personal Statement Example

This is an NYU example that worked: 

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.”

The writer has done an excellent job of telling a story related to their cultural background. We learn 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. 

#3. Personal Statement Example

This example details Stella’s journey as she takes the skies and what she learned: 

“ The first lesson I learned as a student pilot is that left and right don’t exist. Maybe driving on a highway or in a parking lot, left and right is precise enough to describe the location and movements of slow-moving bikers, pedestrians, and cars. But at 36,000 feet in the air in a steel tube hurdling almost 200 miles an hour? Left and right just don’t cut it.

During one of my first flights in a small Cessna-182, my flight instructor ordered me to scan the horizon for approaching aircrafts. To my right, I caught a glimpse of one: another Cessna with maroon stripes, the sun’s reflection glinting off its windows. Gesturing vaguely to my two o’clock, I informed my flying instructor, “There’s a plane to the right.”

“No, to your right. From his position, what direction does he see you?” From his angle, I was to his left. In that moment, I realized that perspective and precision of language is everything. The radio chirped: “Cessna One-Eight-Two Sandra, heading north to John Wayne Airport. Over.”

…Through flying, I began to consider all points of view, regardless of my personal perspective.

Perhaps it was my ability to scan the horizon to communicate a single story, uniting contrasting outlooks, that drew me to my love for journalism and the diverse melting pot that was my community.

To me, journalism modernizes the ancient power of storytelling, filled with imperfect characters and intricate conflicts to which I am the narrator. As editor-in-chief for my school newspaper, The Wildcat’s Tale, I aim to share the uncensored perspective of all students and encourage my editorial groups to talk — and listen — to those with whom they disagree. Starting each newspaper edition with a socratic, round-table discussion, I ask the other journalists to pursue stories that answer the questions: why did this happen and where will it lead?

Expanding beyond the perspectives of my classmates, I began writing articles for the Korea Daily, and later, the Los Angeles Times High School Insider. I schedule interviews with city council candidates, young and old voters, and mayors of my town, obtaining quotes and anecdotes to weave into my writing. My interviews with both Democratic and Republican voters have taught me to thoroughly report polarizing-opposite opinions through an unbiased lens. As a journalist, I realized I cannot presume the opinions of the reader, but instead simply provide them with the tools necessary to formulate their own conclusions.

I found that in my suburban community, people love to read about the small-town hospitality of their own friends and neighbors…My favorite stories to publish are the ones taped onto fridges, proudly framed on the mom-and-pop downtown diner, or pinned into the corkboard in my teacher’s classroom. I discovered the size of my story does not matter, but the impact I leave on the reader does.

In my time as both a student pilot and journalist, I grew to love these stories, the ones that showed me that living life with blinders, can not only be boring, but dangerous. Whether I was 36,000 feet in the air or on ground level, by flying and writing, I realized that the most interesting stories of life come straight from the people most different from me .” 

Why This Personal Statement Worked

Although Stella opens with an anecdote about flying a plane, that’s not really what this personal statement is about. She reflected adequately on points of view in the sky and connected it to how the ability to see an issue from all sides was instrumental to her success as a journalist. 

Stella shares some of her achievements in a way that doesn’t feel like a list, but her responsibilities give us a glimpse of her life. When she transitions to writing about the value in every story, big or small, we see her ability to connect with her community and deliver an impact, even without writing a years-long investigative story. 

#4. Personal Statement Example 

Please note that this and subsequent personal statements have been anonymized.

“‘ I have the audacity of equality.’ The roar of applause explodes from the television as I hunch over a rapidly cooling bag of popcorn, my world rocked by this single line. Enter Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix comedy special Homecoming King, an ode to all the brown kids born and raised in the U.S., caught between the country they have known their entire lives and the countries their immigrant parents are still deeply tied to. As I sat enamored by Minhaj’s performance, it was as if the fog that often obscured how to navigate that middle ground of living as a mixed kid in America was cleared. I am the daughter of a [COUNTRY] immigrant mother and a first-generation [COUNTRY] father raised in cookie-cutter American suburbia, and I have spent my entire life in a strained limbo of feeling not quite red, white, and blue enough to fit in with my almost entirely white peers, while also feeling far too disconnected from my parents’ countries to find solace in their cultures. After a lifetime of feeling unseen, not fitting into a boxed-off identity, Minhaj’s special felt like a beacon of understanding. 

The day after watching the special, I announced my newest aspiration in life: to become a professional comedian. But after a few stale jokes fell flat, it was clear comedy would not be my future. Yet that image of Minhaj traipsing across the stage as his words held the live crowd, and me miles away, ensnared in their grasp, was unshakeable. I wanted to chase that feeling of using words to speak to and for others, especially those whose stories are often abandoned and unheard. So while I didn’t join any comedy clubs, I did sign up for my first year of competitive debate. 

Soon after, I found that I too could use my words to influence and speak to others, even if my audience was limited to judges and my spotlight was the glare of fluorescent lights in high schools across the nation. Addicted to the thrill of getting to discuss pressing issues I had previously only seen in the news, I amassed unholy amounts of research on American water resource protection for the 2021 season. As I plowed through mountains of research, I unearthed the truth that how we distribute water is also how we exercise justice, particularly in my community. In [STATE], where agriculture consumes over 80% of my state’s water, every-day people, especially other people of color, struggle to deal with the disproportionate impacts of water scarcity. Though I sat stunned and disappointed by my state’s water conservation practices, the line ‘I have the audacity of equality’ echoed, reminding me that I don’t have to settle for historically inequitable systems of power decided decades before I was born. I have a right to fight for the change my community needs.

Thus, when the opportunity arose to speak to one of my city’s biggest newspapers and radio stations about water conservation, I took it. I was shepherded in front of a voice recorder and later into the radio station, palms sweating as the black microphone that would project my voice city-wide hovered imposingly before me. Yet, I remembered that this was my chance to use my voice to uncover the stories that had been silenced. As my words flowed, (yes, like water) I felt that same spark of advocacy ignited in me years prior. 

However, it’s one thing to elevate silenced stories and another to act upon a desire to change those narratives. If outdated political decisions are to blame for water inequities, I know new ones from young, passionate people like myself must upend them. Accordingly, soon after my interviews, I sought out an internship where I could pitch those same ideas of water conservation to residents throughout [COUNTY NAME]. My audience morphed from high school debate judges to voters, porches as a stage where I amplify the voices of the people through the power of elections and democracy. 

Upon revisiting Minhaj’s comedy special, a line I first missed stands out. Hands gesturing wildly, he asks, ‘Isn’t it our job to push the needle forward little by little?’ I have established the answer is decidedly yes. I no longer miss that line when I rewatch the special because over the course of my advocacy my habit of mind has changed along with my actions. No matter the audience, the stage, or the spotlight, I view each opportunity to speak to issues I care about as pushing that needle forward. Despite my brief dream of comedic glory never coming to fruition, I am no less fulfilled in how I choose to speak for what I believe in because I understand that I have that same potential to inspire change .”

This personal statement does an excellent job of keeping a narrative thread from the introduction to the conclusion. Through this statement, we learn about the author’s background, identity, values, passions, and skills without feeling like we’re reading from an itemized list. 

Their explanation about comedy not being for them is light-hearted and comical, but their speaking up for water inequities is powerful and shows their determination. 

#5. Personal Statement Example 

This personal statement explores a student’s experiences with wildfires: 

“ A cacophony of alert ringtones blared loudly from pockets, backpacks, and desks around the room. I grabbed my phone: “EMERGENCY ALERT: Wildfire evacuation for areas west of [STREET NAME].” I looked out the window of the [HIGH SCHOOL] classroom, where I and the other Link Crew members had planned to spend the week before school started organizing freshman orientation. An angry column of black smoke billowed from just beyond the football field. This fire was closer and more intense than most. We booked it to a nearby friend’s house. An hour later, I received yet another [STATE] Fire alert. My heart dropped – I wouldn’t be able to go home tonight. Instead, the Fire had spread, cutting me off from my dad, mom, and little brother. What’s more, the fire was rapidly approaching our location. After receiving a second evacuation notice, we loaded up the camper and drove through falling ash to the nearest evacuation center, where I spent hours refreshing the [STATE] fire page and anxiously watching the smoke-filled sky.

Since I moved in 2014 from the [CITY] suburbs to [TOWN], a town of [NUMBER] in the [MOUNTAIN] Foothills, I’ve witnessed climate change firsthand. Years of drought gradually turned much of my pine forest playground into sticks of tinder. Instead of running on once-shaded trails at cross-country practice, we now dash through blackened remains of burned-out trees. While my old friends in [CITY] mow their lawns, I clear scotch broom and dead manzanitas from our property to reduce wildfire hazards. 

I recognize climate change for what it is – an existential threat. Yearly reminders during the fire season underscore the immediacy of the threat that climate change poses. Some think of our climate as a problem for the future. But I know that climate change already shapes the lives of me, my community, and millions around the world. Initially, my response to climate change was just on a personal level. After studying the meat industry’s carbon footprint at Tech Trek, a STEM camp at [COLLEGE], I cut meat out of my diet entirely and have been a vegetarian for almost five years. Last year, in response to the fire, I used the skills I learned in my engineering classes to design and construct garden boxes for people who had lost their plants in the blaze.

But I know that my actions alone aren’t enough to engender lasting change. I turned to my community to compound my impact. Partnering with nature preserves and conservation groups around [TOWN], my girl scout troop and I organize environmental cleanups of tributaries and hiking trails. I designed and taught Leave No Trace curriculum and organized challenges for local youth to increase community engagement in local ecological issues. 

More recently, I’ve begun to think more deliberately about how to further my impact on a larger scale. I believe that my firsthand experience with climate change, when paired with my passion for designing technological solutions to environmental problems, allows me to think about innovative ways to tackle climate challenges. To address the lack of useful resources on native and invasive plants in the [MOUNTAIN] Foothills, I’ve created a database of plants with tips and educational materials for each plant in order to create a resource that scientists, gardeners, and enthusiasts alike can use. Using the skills I’ve developed over the course of the last three years in the engineering pathway, I am drawing inspiration from temperature-regulating termite mounds to design a biomimetic home that uses air movement to maintain comfortable interior temperatures. 

My family and home were safe through the fire, but others weren't as lucky. My lived experience with climate change and subsequent response on a personal, community, and larger-scale level equip and motivate me to continue the fight for a more sustainable future. Climate change started this battle, it's up to me to finish it. ” 

The introduction immediately catches our attention for its vivid imagery and charged emotion as the student navigates an emergency. They connect this anecdote to the broader theme of climate change and other experiences relating to their values. 

Although the student describes what they’ve already accomplished, they share what they’d like to do to address climate change on a larger scale in the future and wrap up their story by referencing the anecdote from their introduction. 

#6. Personal Statement Example 

This personal statement explores a candidate’s love of fashion: 

“ I nervously stand from behind my desk, ready for my turn. Eyes glare at me from all sides as the teacher beckons me to begin. I dread group introductions, the first days of school, or any icebreaker exercise because of this moment. I have never had a traditional fun fact to share, like ‘I play soccer’ or ‘I have a twin.’ I used to share something safe like, ‘I hate whipped cream.’ On this day, I decided to share my true passion. ‘I love fashion.’ Giggles float through the room. Whispers are exchanged through my classmates' smirks. I immediately began to second guess myself. Was my response too shallow? Too girly? No – fashion transcends the boundaries of gender and is the opposite of shallow. It is an intricate manifestation of a person's true, innermost feelings toward the outside world. It is a way to express oneself when words don't suffice. That does not seem shallow to me.

Each day, I gaze into my closet and try to answer the routine question of what to wear. A flowing white sundress or a worn, black leather jacket? A pleated blazer or a bright red band tee? I might choose a sundress when I feel carefree and lighthearted or a heavy jacket when the world seems overwhelming and I need protection. Though it may seem an insignificant question of comfort or trends, I am really deciding which version of myself I want to reveal that day through my clothing. I could wear a coastal, relaxed outfit, and tomorrow could feature urban business attire. By no means does this imply that I have an identity crisis. I am simply a human with a wide range of emotions that cannot be confined. It is because of my inner diversity that I am unique.

The fabric that wraps my body is not meant only for cover. It also allows others a window into my soul. Though the deep desires of my heart never waver, each day brings new emotions, obstacles, and circumstances that, at times, can be difficult to process. This daily change instigates a perpetual evolution that communicates I am not the same person I was yesterday.

It's human nature to try to categorize people and things. Certain styles and garments tend to connect with a particular aesthetic. For instance, a callous person must dress grunge, and a fun, free-spirited person must dress bohemian. But people are complex. We cannot be constrained by one specific personality type. The beauty of humanity is in its inherent diversity. People can be demographically grouped by their culture, surroundings, family, or upbringing. However, the people who make up those respective communities are capable of diverse and independent thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Fashion can express that.

Fashion is not just an opportunity to display the latest trend or designer clothes. Fashion is an intimate representation of the inner workings of one's being. Even those who claim not to care about their clothing subconsciously express their emotions through it. A girl going through a breakup would think she disregards fashion by putting on a pair of sweats and throwing her hair into a messy bun. In reality, she chose the sweats because she is vulnerable and wants to feel warm and safe, and her bun prevents her hair from drowning in her tears. Her attire tells us multitudes of details if we just pay attention. Acknowledging how she feels through her clothing choice can help her process difficult emotions. She deserves this outlet to express her current state of mind. Everyone deserves this chance. I believe in an industry that can provide the average person with clothing that helps them feel beautiful and confident, regardless of their stage of life or socioeconomic status. So maybe she and I deserve those few extra minutes to get ready in the morning so that we may define the current state of our ever-changing selves .” 

This personal statement shows the author’s love for fashion, particularly how they describe the various pieces in their closet. Their writing shows how they connect apparel choices to a person’s personality and feelings. 

This statement may be more metaphorical and poetic than others in this list, but it could be a compelling personal statement for an aspiring fashion or art student. 

#7. Personal Statement Example 

This personal statement showcases a high school student’s experience with physician shadowing: 

“ As I sat observing the patients scattered around the waiting room, my eyes stopped on a man flushed and gasping. He met my gaze; his own eyes were brimming with fear. His face began to take on a deep shade of red. The woman by his side jumped up and began shouting for help. A group of doctors and nurses came rushing into the waiting room. The man held my gaze and I returned his panicked stare. 

Over the four months I’d spent shadowing Dr. [NAME] at [HOSPITAL NAME], my days encompassed: accompanying him during his rounds, checking on patients, and taking vital signs for postoperative patients. I even shadowed him during a valve replacement procedure. I remember thinking that operating on a person’s most central organ, with calculated precision, was the pinnacle of what it meant to be a surgeon. However, as I sat paralyzed in the waiting room, unable to break eye contact with a terrified patient entering cardiac arrest— I knew I was experiencing a part of the medical field I’d never seen.

Dr. [NAME] and the nurses moved in a synchronous dance. The nurses placed the patient on his back and helped to hold him still. Dr. [NAME] centered his hand on the man’s chest and began performing CPR. I knew rationally things were moving in real time, but the doctor’s actions seemed to move in slow motion. Dr. [NAME] began cycling between mouth to mouth and chest compressions. I felt my own heartbeat pounding rapidly in my chest. 

A piercing ‘beep’ filled the room as the monitor detected a heartbeat. 

When the patient met my gaze, my first instinct was to leap from my chair and help him. However, my traitorous body had been paralyzed in terror; all I could do was hold his gaze. This concerned me. If I couldn't manage my anxiety for a patient during high stress situations, did I have what it took to be a surgeon?

‘How did you stay calm?’ I asked Dr. [NAME] as we sat in his office later that day. The regular sounds of the waiting room leaked under the door—as if nothing had happened. He paused for a moment, ‘I was nervous, of course, but years of experience has taught me to channel my nerves into treating the patient the best that I can.’

Although his words made sense, it still seemed impossible to not feel fear for a patient whose life is in danger. However, as I considered his words further, I realized Dr. [NAME] wasn’t telling me he didn’t feel emotionally invested in the patient’s safety. Rather, he was saying he had learned to channel his concern into focusing on providing the best patient care possible. 

During my time shadowing Dr. [NAME], prior to the day of the resuscitation, I learned the importance of surgical precision, clinical expertise, and confidence under pressure. However, as I sat in his office that day, my perspective of the medical field changed. I now understood that staying confident in the midst of chaos isn’t instinctive; it is learned. Moreover, a good surgeon recognizes that she can use her fear for her patient as motivation to save the patient. 

My inclination to help others and fascination with molecular biology is what attracted me to the medical field. From the waiting room ordeal, my preserving commitment to becoming a physician was only reaffirmed. It encouraged me that my natural empathy for others would fuel rather than hinder my ability to work efficiently during stressful situations. I look forward to using this thought process in my day-to-day leadership activities, and one day, as a surgeon. ” 

This personal statement offers a glimpse into the writer’s time shadowing a physician and shows their vulnerabilities and fears. This statement shows what they’ve learned from the experience and how they’ll use these skills and knowledge to realize their dream of becoming a surgeon. 

#8. Personal Statement Example 

This sample personal statement is about an applicant’s journey with dance and religion: 

“ I stepped barefoot onto the cool wooden floor and bent down to lay my sweaty palms on the ground. I quickly got into line with the other girls and waited for the music to begin playing. My hips swayed while my heartbeat matched the rhythm of the song. Through each segment, my movements changed, evolving from Jhumar and ending in Dhamal. Behind every motion, there was an intention to send a message to the audience. 

I immediately found my place with Bhangra–a traditional Punjabi folk dance. I picked up the routines effortlessly, dancing with precision. I soon advanced to the older girls’ group, working on intricate choreography that required more stamina. Bhangra became not just a passion, but a path to better explore my Punjabi heritage. With each passing year, I came to see reflections of my life in Bhangra, connecting its many forms to different pieces of my identity.

Jhumar is delicate. It grows in intensity over time, but remains fragile. Full of smooth hand movements and soft placements, it builds on knowledge and experience, mirroring my relationship with Sikhism. For a long time, I was skeptical of practicing my faith. It seemed unnecessary–a method of control rather than a choice. My grandmother coaxed me to attend prayers and forced me to sit for long periods in the Gurdwara, all of which felt like more of a chore. Over the last two years, I found myself returning to the Gurdwara willfully. I had not completely restored my faith in God, but went there as a place of healing, finding comfort in the practices I once dreaded. I sat alone in the silence to calm myself. Gradually, my broken relationship with Sikhism wove itself back together, like the gentle motions of Jhumar. 

In my teenage years, I began to perform Giddha with my mother, aunts, and cousins, clapping and laughing alongside figures who shaped me. The dance is usually performed by women, telling tales of village life through skip steps and illustrative motions. Each gesture conveys the emotion and content of the story told. Giddha captured the evolution of my self-identity, reminding me of my support system and my ancestral roots. Performing next to these strong women in my life allowed me to grow my confidence and granted me a fuller sense of myself.  

Dhamal is the grand finale–bright and energetic, full of jumps on fast-paced beats. It is a dance that is usually performed at the end and demands the most energy. At the beginning of this segment, I am forced to make a decision: push forward and smile through the exhaustion, or flail my limbs and give up. I center myself to keep my hands sharp and clean while stepping with purpose, making every step count. I know I will regret becoming sloppy with my motions when I rewatch the performance, so I do my best to perform elegantly. It is a test of my drive. 

What began as a lighthearted use of time became a fundamental part of me. Bhangra allowed me to restore my relationship with Sikhism and turn towards it as a source of healing from times I felt lost and overwhelmed. I formed meaningful connections to the women in my family, and through them, my ancestors, bonding over traditions and experiencing my culture in depth. I learned to handle pressure with grace, pushing through difficulty with determination, and further strengthening essential parts of my identity. As I dance, I step, clap, and move through the parts of myself that make me whole .” 

This personal statement begins with an anecdote to immerse the reader in an event and showcases how Bhangra helped her reconnect with her heritage, religion, and culture. This narrative shows the applicant’s drive and talent while illuminating her journey toward strengthening her identity. 

#9. Personal Statement Example

Let’s see how one applicant transformed their love of chess into a winning personal statement: 

“ The wooden board promised possibilities and endless opportunities. On the maple wood of the battlefield, rooks, bishops, and knights stood ready in the most strategic war, chess.

My father lovingly taught me the game of chess as a young child. I immediately gravitated toward the game due to its strategic nature and quickly learned that chess appeared simple: just capture the king. Regardless of this apparent simplicity, my analytical mind always thought ten moves ahead. I never entered the battle without a full-fledged plan and a future-focused mindset that always seemed to be an advantage. From that point, many victories made me naive to the need to adjust my well-laid plans to meet outside challenges. Then, a particular game upended my strategies and confidence. This game began no differently from the others as I slowly set up the pieces and developed a seemingly invincible plan. And as my plan was forming, my confidence rose.

I started the game by bringing the king's pawn forward two spaces. In the very next move, I crossed my queen three places. I applied maximum pressure immediately to stay on offense and put my opponent on defense. After a few silly moves later by my father, I saw the opening to put his king in check, so I took it. I was executing my plan perfectly. However, my father started moving his rook closer to my queen, and in a matter of seconds, he captured my strongest piece. Playing it off as no sacrifice, for the rest of the game, I remained unwilling to change my plan, only to lose the game eventually. I realized at that moment that I had not appreciated the importance of adapting to changing circumstances and challenges–to the idea that for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction, as I later learned in physics. Since that game, I began to balance my strategic planning with the need to adjust to the moves of my opponent as one must balance one’s strategic goals with the reality of the present; otherwise, life will deliver missed opportunities.

Yet one of my greatest passions was discovered by thinking far ahead in the future. From a young age, I became fascinated with engineering, both the physics of how objects move and fly and the potential for real innovation that accompanies the design and execution processes of engineering. Due to my logical nature, I prefer to set plans in order to optimize an outcome. When one identifies and defines problems logically and precisely, a plan is necessary, so thinking in future terms becomes essential. However, as time has passed, my love for engineering has grown, especially my passion for discovering how physical objects move and interact and plans can develop in creative and previously unthinkable ways. This future-focused mindset has influenced both my academic studies and my work in STEM internships as well as a recent apprenticeship with [LARGE COMPANY]. These pursuits, in turn, have allowed me to expand my vision of what my undergraduate studies and future career paths may hold. Still, future strategizing and adapting to the present are skills that will guide my future endeavors. Thus, engineering, like the game of chess, not only involves having a strategy going into the game, sometimes the key to victory, but also adapting to changing conditions can mean the difference between success and failure. ” 

The author used their experiences with chess to describe the development of skills such as strategic planning and adaptation. They effortlessly connect their story about a chess game to their love of physics and engineering. 

The chess game serves as a backdrop for their passion for STEM and what they’ve done to further explore their interests and connects the game to engineering and their cultivated skill to adapt amid changing conditions (such as new information) – a skill top colleges look for in candidates. 

#10. Personal Statement Example 

This candidate’s experience with a disposable camera helped them find the perfect personal statement: 

“ When I was fourteen years old, my mother bought me a disposable film camera, a shiny green plastic gadget from Walmart. At first, I was bewildered by how this seemingly superfluous object could supplement my perfectly efficient iPhone camera. Dangling the gift between my fingers with confusion, I was torn between telling my mother I had no use for this fossil, and graciously giving in to her request to ‘just try it out.’ I took the high road, and settled on the latter. 

Initially photography was an aesthetic hobby, however, it quickly turned into immense devotion to the art. I began to carry around the little green camera everywhere I went. Unfortunately, disposable film cameras have meager lifespans, and I could only take 27 pictures before the film was exhausted. After years of taking pictures with careless abandon, my photography was transformed by the idea of a tiny plastic box forcing me to choose my shots more carefully. Formerly, I could whip out my camera whenever I wanted to and take a picture, capturing a frame that would eventually disappear in the mass conglomeration of my iPhone camera roll. Conversely, my film camera required me to decide the right moment to capture a snapshot of a memory frozen in time. 

Ultimately, the narrative I have captured through my film camera has also helped me find my authentic voice through writing. I love using language to express my character, demonstrating my willingness to explore my passions and capture my every emotion. When I first attempted to write a full length novel, I recognized it would be a massive time commitment, and there would be hundreds of revisions. However, upon completing my first manuscript, I did not feel worried, or overwhelmed by the editing process. I was excited to embark on this next journey of perfecting my work. I was immersed in finishing my novel when my mom convinced me to apply for a Writing Contest. I followed her advice, and the risk ended up paying off. A few months later, I opened up my laptop to see an email announcing I had received the [TOP PRIZE]. The thrill of my teachers and parents could not be compared to my own surprise. I was absolutely overjoyed that the judges were moved by my story. My devotion to the film camera is now reflected in my approach to everyday life and my profile as a student. 

Throughout my high school career, I have dedicated myself to a few activities and developed my skill set, instead of spreading myself thinly in several fruitless activities. Stepping out of my comfort zone, I decided to sign up for a boxing class in my [HIGH SCHOOL] year. I looked forward to every training session, and began to transfer that energy into becoming an even better academic student. I loved learning new techniques and memorizing nuanced tips, until I eventually took the combat training style and made it my own. Yet another activity that began as a hobby, eventually helped build my self-confidence and provided strategies on how to approach adversity; from interactions with peers, to the boxing ring. 

I have yet to fully appreciate the fleeting nature of every moment. Incorporating my film camera into my everyday life has allowed me to take control and fill my high school career with a rich and genuine photo album of experiences .” 

The writer’s careful approach to using the film camera shows their deliberateness and newfound approach to their passion for art and photography. They connect this story to their love of writing, citing their finished full-length novel, a truly impressive feat. 

They also show their ability to step outside their comfort zone and passion for artistic endeavors with their experiences in boxing. This personal statement showcases their commitment to their passions and how taking pictures with a disposable camera showed them how to take control of their journey. 

#11. Personal Statement Example 

Here’s another example detailing an applicant’s visit to the zoo: 

“ As the sunlight trickles through the willow trees and glitters on the surface of the water, I squint. Where is it? Even though I’m in the shade, sweat is pouring down my face; it’s easily 115 degrees out. I scour the swamp beneath me one last time, sigh, and give up. Every time I visit the [ZOO NAME], this singular [ANIMAL] (a type of crocodilian) evades me. Somewhere in the murky water underneath the pedestrian bridge, the elusive false gharial hides from view. It’s enough to make most people give up in disappointment, potentially anger. Not me. Each time I visit, I enjoy my experience to the fullest, regardless of what I see.

Since I was a toddler, I have been enamored with every zoo I visit. My mother doesn’t exaggerate when she claims I had to be dragged out of zoos against my will as a toddler. The animal kingdom is beautifully diverse, unique, and absolutely breathtaking; it enraptured me as a child and still does today. The fact that toucans throw their food in the air and catch it with their beaks, parachute frogs glide from tree to tree, or sea cucumbers eject their insides as a self-defense mechanism–these are all such incredible adaptations and behaviors that I sometimes am unable to comprehend the incredible scope of evolution. I am easily swept up in my admiration of all aspects of the natural world, completely losing myself in the experience.

The last time I visited the [ZOO NAME] with my extended family, I was astonished by the new Dome structure. A shimmering glass dome sparkling under the bright, hot sun, the building was reminiscent of a giant greenhouse. Although the eponymous pangolins had not yet been moved to their new home where I could see them, reading about their story was eye-opening. These cute armored mammals are considered the most trafficked animals in the world. As I traversed the rest of the building, I discovered that different levels are devoted to depicting various aspects of the Rainforest, the most ecologically productive biome in the world. Starting from the bottom of the dome, viewers walk through the tropical, fish-filled waters, then climb through the forest’s various levels, getting to see the complex intersection of energy flows, water use, and nutrient cycles. I was humbled by the experience. I left that day with a clear understanding of why I love zoos so much: zoos are a chance for humans to learn how to better coexist with the environment.

We live in a world where human development and conservation are almost mutually exclusive. A forest, field, or beach has to be destroyed, drilled into, or paved in order for ‘civilization’ to exist. Zoos prove that this does not have to be the case; they are a source of inspiration for how we can better live in harmony with nature. Every exhibit is a microcosm of a distinct aspect of the environment and can teach us how facets of nature interact. The aforementioned Dome, for example, uses natural light to simulate a real biome while conserving energy. Other conservationist elements–resource recycling and reuse, water conservation, etc.–are evident throughout the zoo.

In what feels like an instant after stepping out of the tomistoma enclosure, I realize that the sun has already begun to set and the cicadas have already begun to buzz. As I am dragged back into the car by my uncle, I reflect on how I can apply the zoo’s sustainable techniques to the general public. How can we adapt nature’s solutions to certain problems and conform them to meet our needs? For example, can we reduce a city’s temperature and carbon levels? Planting green roofs can reduce both. Whenever I want to solve such environmental issues, I think of the [ZOO NAME]. Nature has solutions to all of our problems; we just have to embrace them. ” 

This personal statement shares the author’s interest in biology and animal sciences through anecdotes showing their love and appreciation of zoos. The animal facts and musings about the new building show their passion for knowledge and happiness at the opportunity for humans to coexist with nature. 

The conclusion raises the writer’s questions but shows their critical thinkins skills and how they can connect the zoo’s “sustainable techniques” to new solutions in cities. It also effectively wraps up the narrative.

#12. Personal Statement Example 

This personal statement describes a candidate’s experience navigating the jungle and how it ignited a new passion: 

“ Immersed in the core of the [NAME] jungle, I was set to embark on my first plant medicine journey. At age 14, I was depressed and anxiety scheduled my days. For a week, I lived with the [NUMBER] year-old [NAME] tribe: waking before the sun, drinking cleansing tea with the Chief and his counsel, and cutting through the wilds with a machete to hunt for dinner. Known for centuries to be cautious of welcoming Westerners, the village members embraced me. I had the chance to hear the tribe passionately share their knowledge about native plants and ways to live harmoniously with the land. Songs of exotic birds and warm, crisp air breathed love into my lungs, and I felt my nervous system recalibrating. I partook in the ceremony with [TEA NAME], a plant based entheogenic tea that activates the pineal gland, and I felt my connection growing stronger with divine nature. It felt like I was washing my brain in ice water and I was inspired by the tribe’s devotion to Her. At night, I feverishly scribbled down my day in my Moleskin journal. By the time the week was through, every page was filled with thoughts, questions and feelings. 

When I returned back home, I wanted to learn more about these plants and why or how they became so scorned and abused in contemporary society. Taking research into my own hands, I proactively began to dig into the history of these plants. I was hooked after reading Terrance and Dennis McKenna's Stoned Ape Theory and listening to the podcast, ‘Avoid Gurus, Follow Plants.’ This year, I became the youngest to complete The Course [NAME] led by Dr. [NAME].  I learned about limbic healing, the psychoneuroendocrine immunology network, and the power of these sagacious teacher-plants. Dr. [NAME] discussed the harms of disrespecting plant medicines and how if we work for them, they may choose to work with us.

The course included conversations with Ph.D. student, [NAME], regarding her dissertation about the benefits of ketamine in psychotherapy. The thesis concluded that compounds in medicinal plants had healing properties to neurodegenerative diseases and those with terminal illnesses and trauma, all of which are imperative to our current and future concept of health. My enthusiasm for plant medicine spread into all aspects of my life; it was time for another journal and another journey. Thus, I began my podcast: [NAME]. Honoring the wisdom of the indigenous, the podcast bridged gaps between societies and generations, creating a safe space for curiosity to thrive and penetrating the walls of ignorance.  Recently, I watched my mom transform from a senior executive at a major telecommunication company to a [NEW ROLE] and CEO of her own firm. As my first podcast guest, she shared her mission to guide one million souls into personal sovereignty. Since then, I have been blessed to speak with Dr. [NAME], the Chief of a [TRIBE], who discussed the preview of her new book and shared how surrendering invites harmony to a person’s life. It was then that I realized that The [PODCAST NAME] was more than a podcast; it was a quiet voice with something loud to say. Today, its purpose is to focus on integrating spirituality into everyday life, and how to work respectively with these venerated and still controversial plant medicines. It is paradise for thinkers, visionaries, and pioneers. The words exchanged in the podcast are the planks in a bridge that connect some of the world’s most remarkable leaders to a generation that may benefit from their wisdom. The journey that began in [COUNTRY] struck the match to the wildfire of my passion, curiosity and devotion to plant medicine .” 

This personal statement illuminates the author’s experiences living with a different culture in a new environment, showing their ability to exit their comfort zone. The story shows the author’s cultural understanding, describes where their passion for plant medicine bloomed, and how it inspired them to start their own podcast. 

#13. Personal Statement Example 

This personal statement explores the writer’s love of painting: 

“ I am a painter. The connection I feel to the art I create and love is — like the art itself — so much more than the words I can use to describe it. I become utterly absorbed in the process of creating, viewing, and studying art; it taps into my vulnerabilities and connects me to previously unknown parts of myself. Everything I paint, regardless of the apparent subject, reflects something about me. My recent painting ‘[NAME],’ for example, depicts a close friend curled up beneath a quilt festooned with red poppies. I have realized that it is a portrait of both of us that reveals our shared yearning for safety, warmth, and beauty. Likewise, my favorite pieces by other artists lay bare my own internal tensions and artistic aspirations. I believe that paintings unlock access to both the artist and the viewer. This has become apparent in an independent art history project I completed this summer about the early 20th-century painter Amrita Sher-Gil. I remember first seeing one of her works and feeling deeply drawn to her use of color. Compelled to learn more, I sought the mentorship of a local art history professor and embarked on an exploration of Sher-Gil’s work that has resulted in a tremendous affinity for her story – and a better understanding of my own.

In volumes of Sher-Gil’s letters, photographs, and paintings, I found an uncanny resemblance to myself. She was Indian and European, moved frequently, played the piano, and saturated her paintings with bold, warm colors. Sher-Gil drew inspiration from Rajput painting and stained her female subjects with a burning red that could have spilled out of the tube of cadmium red I squeeze each time I create an underpainting. In my work, the same Rajput-like red shines through the crevices of my overpainting and brings my subject matter to life.

As I became enthralled by Sher-Gil’s red, I learned about the color’s history and, in the end, I made an original discovery. Rajput artists surrounded their paintings with a luxurious red border and often used the color to adorn and highlight two lovers; this red became a mark of heterosexual longing. As I read Sher-Gil’s letters and looked at her paintings, I noticed that she used the Rajput-like red to allude to her own bisexuality; my paper pointed out that she reworked the color’s meaning to represent intimacy between and among women.

My research on Sher-Gil is a clear reflection of my own artistic process — sometimes confusing, far from neat, and often driving to an unclear conclusion. Nevertheless, it reinforced my relationship with art. Sher-Gil used paint to capture the complexity of her identity and illustrated her struggles, dilemmas, and moments of pleasure; in doing so, she has given me confidence in my own painting process and self-exploration. When I paint, I live in a space of meaningful and productive uncertainty. Just as the unexpected purple highlights on the arm of the figure beneath the poppies in my painting resulted from accidental layers of red, blue, and green, the meaning of my work may not be evident until the painting is complete.

In the same way, I am a work in progress. In art, I explore strength and vulnerability, femininity and masculinity, uncertainty and knowledge; I throw myself into my creative and intellectual interests as the practitioner and academic, the painter and viewer. When I paint, I value the companionship of my tubes of pigment, the subjects of my images, and painters like Sher-Gil, who has become a role model. I am eager to pursue studio art and art history and to introduce others to the possibilities of self-exploration through art. To know me, you should know my paintings: the ones I create, the ones I love, and the ones I will study, teach, and share with others. Painting reveals the fullest version of who I am .” 

This student’s love of painting and Sher-Gil’s work spurred them to seek mentorship and how, like their artistic process, they’re a “work in progress.” The author’s experiences and passion for art intersect with their explorations of himself and their strengths. 

#14. Personal Statement Example 

This personal story begins with what appears to be a humorous anecdote that transforms into a well-written personal statement: 

“ During my first week of kindergarten, I pulled the fire alarm.

We had just come in from recess and kindergartners were lined up single file against the wall. It was our ritual before returning to class. I felt antsy, fidgety, and bored; my body was not ready for the impending ‘circle time.’

A quick turn of my head and there it was – a red, shiny, attractive box. The allure was all-consuming. ‘Pull the lever,’ an internal voice told me. Before I knew it, my thoughts had become actions, and I instantly became a legend. Blue ink on my palms from the dye pack gave me away when the blaring alarm and chaos settled. Despite initial frustration, even the principal appreciated my clever argument: ‘Why can a small kid reach the fire alarm – is it even really my fault?’

For years, I struggled with that question as I learned that my brain craves action and I need to learn to ‘pause’ while most others don't. I also discovered that I have a passion for understanding how and why the brain works, and a resulting interest in neuroscience.  

Recognizing that people learn and experience things differently and that it's not their ‘fault’ spurred my desire to help others from a young age. I cajoled my parents to take me to a library – an hour away, each way – that was willing to accept a 12-year-old tutor. Soon after, I developed [WEBSITE NAME], a service that provides a combination of learning and social support. I learned that each child has individual needs, different ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ for learning and experiencing the world – and I was fascinated by it all. 

My high school serendipitously had a program perfectly designed for me - [PROGRAM NAME]. I didn’t realize until I started working as a fellow with the [PROGRAM NAME] – a center for mind, body, and education science – that my “field” experience as a tutor coupled with my fascination with learning differences made the intersection of neuroscience and education an ideal focus. My innate desire to understand the brain's inner workings guided me to help others learn and feel comfortable with their own brain wiring. Whether leading a study on the biggest stress factors for high school students or exploring what types of music best influence learning, I am inspired to gain a deeper understanding of brain function and its educational implications.

My parents often tell the fire alarm story – it is pretty funny, after all – but it also represents something more serious for me: the realization that impulsivity is part of my brain circuitry. It's arguably a blessing. As a five-year-old, I needed to pull that alarm. As a more mature student, I need to pursue my desire to understand the brain, recognize I have no ‘fault’ to fix, and use scientific research and insights to help myself and others. To this day, I still believe the fire alarm should be higher than a kindergartner's reach.” 

Although this personal statement begins with a humorous anecdote, the tone remains serious enough to convey the author’s lived experiences and accomplishments influenced by their brain’s impulsivity. This exploration of themself led to their interest in neuroscience and how they’re inspired to learn more about brain function. 

The conclusion brings the narrative full circle in a light-hearted way while the author shares their conviction to use scientific research in the future to better understand themselves and others. 

#15. Personal Statement Example 

This personal statement describes the a figure skater’s reflection of their path: 

“ The frigid air bit my cheeks as music breathed life into the otherwise dead-silent arena. I felt the intimidating stares of a million eyes as I started gliding across the gleaming ice in sync with the music, yearning to flaunt the moves I’d assiduously perfected during my early-morning practices. Flawlessly landing the last double lutz in my program, I was homebound. As the music reached its final decrescendo, I slowly exited my last spin and struck my final pose facing the motionless audience. The silence returned momentarily but quickly turned into thunderous applause and cheers as I took my bow after another ‘gold medal’ performance.

Exiting the ice, I noticed a haze of silhouetted smiles. Most were unrecognizable, but a few jumped out at me before I was even off the ice: those of my coach, my parents, and my exuberant little sister. However, after performing this same program multifarious times this season, each warm post-program greeting by friendly or familiar faces felt like déjà vu. 

Competition after competition caused me to gradually lose sight of my goal. An Olympic gold medal is known to be the pinnacle of a figure skating career, but the elusivity and cutthroat nature of the journey slowly became more of a deterrent to finding my way to the top of that podium. Instead, I was prompted to look beyond the bounds of this track as I sought to uncover a solution to the monotonous cycle that held me confined to the quotidian repetition of competition between training sessions and performances.  

Serendipitously, I soon stumbled upon a volunteer coaching opportunity at my local rink. Through the [NAME] Skating Program, I was given the opportunity to work with individuals with a range of physical and developmental disabilities on the ice. Initially hesitant to fill this position because it’d be my first coaching opportunity, I was soon elated by each skater’s positive demeanor and excitement to reach their fullest potential. To them, skating wasn’t about a collection of gold medals, but instead about the freedom granted to them on the ice and the resultant sense of coach-and-skater camaraderie so freely formed.  

After the program met each week, I continuously found myself exceptionally eager to return to the ice to improve my own skating skills. However, I began approaching practice sessions with a renewed sense of purpose, as I was no longer concerned with the minuscule details that’d cost me valuable points in competition. Shifting my focus from technicalities to the bigger picture, I could now enjoy my time spent on the ice while also enhancing my skills as a mentor. Precipitating fulfillment out of practice sessions, I discovered that the pride I held in my mentoring abilities was more valuable than any medal.

Reflecting on my decade of skating, I’ve come to find that the most rewarding times, just like the most rewarding and delicious recipes, tend to rely on a balance between leadership and zealousness, between seasoning and zest. The leadership seasoning has come from my coaching experiences, which have impelled me to thrust myself into even more leadership roles both inside and outside the rink. On the other side of the rink, my zest at my best is hard for the rest to test, so this equilibrium between leadership and enthusiasm is critical for me to maintain so that I can always be my best self not just for my own self, but also and mostly for others. Whether it be teaching a skating class, educating underclassmen on basic business fundamentals for DECA, or discussing how to write efficacious and mellifluous news articles for my school paper, I’ve constantly been able to find avidity in every activity I pursue through an equilibrium of mentorship and individual effort, even if it doesn’t earn me an Olympic gold medal in the end, because when it comes to being golden-hearted, I’ve already been Olympic-caliber all my life.” 

While the beginning of this personal statement showcases the author’s figure skating talent, the “reflection” piece shows how they handled feeling deterred from their goal toward meaning an Olympic gold medal. 

Their mentoring experience shows their community spirit, leadership potential, and adaptability – they connect these experiences to helping them enjoy their time on the ice again. This story conveys how they found balance and can apply it to other situations. 

These examples of college personal statements are just that: examples. While your statement doesn’t need to look exactly like these, reading examples is a great way to gain inspiration. 

Common Personal Statement Mistakes

Many students find it easy to fall into certain traps when writing their personal statements. Make sure to avoid these mistakes in your writing!

  • Relying on cliches : It is imperative that you avoid cliche saying, topics, or ideas in your statement. Admissions officers read tons of statements daily, so you want to make yours stand out. Using cliches will give the impression that you aren’t putting honest effort in and only writing what you think they want to hear. 
  • Choosing an inappropriate topic : Stay away from topics involving illegal activities, highly personal or tragic situations, or controversial ideas. You don’t want to make your reader uncomfortable in any way. 
  • Using quotes : Your personal statement should come from you. Using a famous quote in your statement is not only cliche but also takes up valuable space that you could use for your own words and story. 
  • Not proofreading : If you want to look professional and polished, you need to avoid grammar or spelling mistakes at all costs. Proofread your work and then proofread it again. Try reading it aloud to catch small errors. 
  • Repeating your application : You don’t need to talk about your GPA or test scores in your personal statement. The admissions committee has already seen them. Your statement is a place for you to show them who you are in a personal sense. 

If you’re struggling even after this comprehensive guide, get help with your personal statement today. Our personalized tutors will work one-on-one with you to craft the perfect personal statement.

Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how to write a college personal statement.

1. What Should a College Personal Statement Include?

Your college personal statement should include a brief snippet about a transformative event in your life that led you to your application. You can include important lessons you’ve learned, qualities you’ve developed over time, and your goals.

2. How Do You Start a Personal Statement?

To start a personal statement , begin with a concise introduction. Don’t spend too much time on the beginning; starting with one or two sentences to set up your story and grab the reader’s attention is best. 

3. How Do I Make My Personal Statement Stand Out?

To stand out , your personal statement should highlight something special. Think about your life experiences 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. 

4. How Should I Format a Personal Statement?

College application platforms typically provide a personal statement format, such as a word count or page limit . Generally speaking, you’ll want to select a basic, legible font, such as 12 pt. Times New Roman. 

5. How Long Should a Personal Statement Be? 

A good personal statement is between 500 and 650 words. Double-check the specific requirements for your school to confirm how long your statement should be. 

6. What Should You Not Do in a Personal Statement? 

When writing a personal statement, avoid using famous quotes, grammatical errors, or choosing an inappropriate topic. 

Final Thoughts

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 anecdote, and conclude with a few lines nicely wrapping up the narrative. 

Don’t be afraid to get personal — it’s a personal statement, after all! Just ensure you end on a high note. Remember, your conclusion is the last thing admissions officers will read, so it should be memorable and impactful. What do you want the audience to take away? 

First name, vector icon of a person

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College Personal Statement Examples and Writing Tips

how to write college personal statement

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!

personal statement examples, person studying

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.

hands covered in paint, personal statement examples

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.

spools of colored thread, personal statement examples

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

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How to Start a Personal Statement

One of the first hurdles students encounter when writing college essays is how to start a personal statement. As a core element of many applications, understanding how to write a personal statement is crucial. Learning how to write a personal statement that is an authentic representation of yourself can be challenging. However, mastering this skill will help you craft personal essays that make a lasting impact on admissions officers. 

Specific, actionable college essay tips can help you learn how to write a personal statement for college. If you spend time learning how to start a college essay, you’ll feel even more confident as you begin the process. So, let’s demystify just exactly how to start a personal statement. 

In this guide, How to Start a Personal Statement, we’ll cover everything you need to know about personal statements, including:

  • Personal statement meaning, goals, and expectations
  • Common personal statement formats
  • The importance of a hook and how to write one
  • Steps for how to start a personal statement
  • Tips for how to write a personal statement
  • How to approach the editing phase
  • Coming up with personal statement ideas
  • Examples of personal statements and how to use them

Remember, any writing process takes time. This applies whether you’re figuring out how to start a college essay or how to write a personal statement for college. No matter what approach you take, the key to how to write a great college essay is to start early! 

Now, let’s start with the basics: what is a personal statement?

What is a personal statement?

Simply put, a personal statement is a type of college application essay. But, if you’re looking for answers to, “What is a personal statement?” you probably already know that. At its core, the personal statement should be the essay that most clearly reflects your application narrative . By reading your personal statement, colleges should gain a better understanding of who you are. That means having a clear sense of your strengths, values, and interests.

However, this doesn’t mean that your personal statement needs to capture your entire life story. In fact, often, your personal statement will likely center around just one particular moment or experience. Specifically, one that has defined your identity, passions, or personal growth. 

If you search for a personal statement meaning by school, you may find slightly varying definitions. However, all personal essays have the same goal. Personal essays show colleges your authentic voice while highlighting a part of yourself that isn’t captured elsewhere in your application. You’ll notice this if you read any example of a personal statement for college. 

Engaging in self-reflection

To understand the personal statement meaning in the simplest terms, think of two words: self-reflection . Identifying pivotal life moments, values, and skills are all a part of how to write a great college essay. However, the process of how to write a personal statement for college takes more than just describing an experience. Instead, it forces you to find the balance between contextualizing what happened and expressing how it impacted you.

Successful personal essays will generally do two things. One, they’ll capture the meaning of your past experiences, specifically the ways you were changed and the lessons you learned. Two, they’ll connect your past experiences to your current and future goals. For many students, college applications are the first time they’ve been asked to write about themselves. So, the process of making these personal connections may seem daunting.

Preparing for the future

Knowing exactly what is a personal statement and how to write a personal statement can also help you in other facets of life. For example, consider the overlap between the college application process and the job application process. When applying to jobs, you need to highlight pertinent skills, values, and beliefs—just like in a college application essay. You can even use the skills and principles for writing a personal statement to write a cover letter (with certain nuances, of course).

For more information on the personal statement meaning, check out the application/essay page for schools on your college list. Their advice and resources can help students understand exactly what’s expected from them in these types of essays. And, many colleges will even provide their own tips for how to write a great college essay. They might also provide an example of a personal statement for college. 

We’ve answered the question, “What is a personal statement?” So, now, let’s get into the personal statement format.

Personal statement format

When learning how to write a personal statement, you’ll encounter some different personal statement formats. While there is no singular or “best” personal statement format, most personal essays share a few key attributes. So, understanding these key features can greatly help students learning how to write a great college essay.

Many students’ personal statements tell stories. In fact, discovering these important stories forms a key component of how to start a college essay. Much of the work that goes into discovering how to write a personal statement starts before you even begin writing. (We’ll discuss brainstorming ideas in a later section of this guide.)

Before we dive into how to start a personal statement, we need to pinpoint the starting point for your personal statements: the prompts.

Common/Coalition Application Personal Statement

In many cases, the personal statement refers to the Common App essay or Coalition Application essay. While there are some differences between the two application portals, both follow the same personal statement format. Students will choose from a selection of college essay prompts and write an essay (650 words max). Then, they will submit that essay to every school they apply to via that particular portal. In these cases, the process of how to start a college essay begins with reading through the provided prompts.

Learning how to write a personal statement for college includes learning how to choose the best prompt for you. The personal statement topic you ultimately choose is extremely important; your topic is essentially the soul of your essay. You’d be hard-pressed to find a well-written example of a personal statement for college that wasn’t based on an impactful topic. 

The Common App essay

Let’s take a closer look at how to start a college essay for the Common App. In the Common App, students have seven college essay prompts to choose from. Each of these college essay prompts allows students to share important anecdotes from their lives. Most of these college essay prompts ask specific questions, however, the seventh prompt is slightly different. Prompt #7 actually allows students to choose any topic for their essay.

10 Exceptional Common App Essay Examples

The coalition app essay.

The Coalition Application offers a similar personal statement format. Prompt #6 also asks students to submit an essay on any topic. You might think that responding to such an open-ended prompt would change your approach for how to write a great college essay. However, you can still use the college essay tips provided in this guide, no matter what prompt you decide to respond to.

The Common App and the Coalition Application are the most common personal statement formats you’ll encounter. However, some schools have their own unique personal statement format and requirements.

Coalition Essay Prompts 2023-24

Other personal statements

The method you take when figuring out how to write a personal statement will largely depend on your personal statement prompt. However, a personal statement for college isn’t always based on specific college essay prompts. You might simply be asked to share more about yourself. However, even if your personal statement format doesn’t directly ask you for a particular narrative, your essay still needs a focus. So, you should still aim to have your personal statement tell a story about some critical aspect of your identity. 

That being said, always double-check the specific personal statement format and requirements for each program you apply to. For instance, if you apply to universities in the UK, the UCAS personal statement is far different from other personal essays. Namely, these personal statements focus almost entirely on academics. 

When considering how to start a personal statement, look to admissions websites or university blogs for advice. Often, they’ll have a page dedicated to helpful college essay tips with insight into what they look for from students’ personal essays. For example, check out this blog from UChicago that provides tips on how to approach their quirky prompts. Additionally, check out this personal statement webinar in which an admissions officer shares helpful college essay tips. 

Now, let’s define an important attribute of how to start a personal statement: the hook.

How to start a personal statement: Understanding the “hook”

It’s impossible to learn how to start a personal statement or how to write a personal statement that “wows” without a hook. A hook is an opening statement that catches the reader’s attention. It draws them in and makes them want to keep reading to see how the story unfolds. In personal essays, the hook is key to getting your reader invested in your story. 

But, if the idea of coming up with a compelling hook intimidates you, don’t panic! The hook isn’t necessarily the step you need to start with when learning how to start a college essay. That being said, it forms a crucial component of the personal statement introduction. You’ll notice that almost every successful example of personal statement for college has an engaging hook.

Let’s check out some hooks that impressed to help give you a better idea of how to start a personal statement.

College Personal Statement Examples

Example of personal statement for college: hook #1.

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.

In this personal statement introduction, this student intrigues the reader by comparing their life to a toy. Simply by reading this hook, we can see this student’s self-reflection as well as their creativity. And, most importantly, we’re intrigued to see the connection of how and why this person is fascinated by a Rubik’s cube. In this example, the Rubik’s cube is both unique and genuinely important to the writer. Moreover, by the end of the essay, we gain some valuable insight into how this person navigates the world. And, it all started with this hook. 

Example of Personal Statement for College: Hook #2

When I joined the high school swim team, I never expected to go to school dressed as Shrek.

After reading this hook, you’re probably left with more questions than answers. “What does having to be on the swim team have to do with dressing up as Shrek?” We don’t know yet! And, that’s the point. This surprising hook has the reader curious about the connection the writer will make. However, when figuring out how to start a personal statement, don’t go overboard with the shock factor. Keep in mind that personal essays can’t come from wild statements alone. Rather, they need to connect to a meaningful moment in the writer’s life. 

Example of Personal Statement for College: Hook #3

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.

Your hook doesn’t have to be just one sentence. Rather, it might be a couple of sentences or even the first paragraph, like in this example. Keep in mind that there are no definitive rules to how to start a personal statement—other than sharing important information about yourself that will stand out to admissions officers.

Students who want to master how to write a personal statement need to learn how to craft an engaging hook. This particular hook shows how the writer is different from their peers. As the reader, we can learn a lot from just these few sentences. We already know that this writer isn’t afraid to be themselves and do what they love from a young age. This college application essay gets into much deeper themes as the narrative continues. However, the most important part of the personal statement introduction—the hook—has already done its job of pulling the reader in to learn more. 

Using these examples

These are just a few successful hooks that students have used in their approach to how to start a personal statement. Each of these comes from a strong example of a personal statement for college. As you can see from each example of a personal statement for college, the best personal statement topics are unique. However, even the most quirky hooks always lead the reader into an essay of substance.

Use each example of personal statement for college to help inspire your “how to write a personal statement” journey. When considering how to write a great college essay, analyzing examples of what works can help. 

Want to see how others figured out how to start a personal statement? Check out these personal statement examples as well as these Common App essay examples for inspiration.

When to write your hook

Having a hook is a crucial part of how to write a personal statement that impresses. However, coming up with your hook won’t necessarily form the first step in your process. Just as there’s no one right way of how to write a personal statement, there’s no one right way to write a hook. 

When considering how to start a personal statement, you don’t need to dive into the hook right away. You may even write a whole draft of your essay before figuring out the best hook for your personal statement introduction. 

So, if a hook doesn’t jump to your brain as you consider personal statement ideas, just start writing! Sometimes, it’s best to write a straightforward beginning (maybe even dry!) and then work your way backward. Remember, it doesn’t matter when you come up with it. Just be sure to add that sparkly hook to your personal statement before submitting your final draft.

Do all colleges require a personal statement?

It’s more than likely that you will need to know how to write a personal statement during the college application process. However, not every college requires a personal statement—though most top schools do. 

So, before stressing about how to start a college essay, check the requirements of the schools on your college list . However, keep in mind that most of the nation’s top schools require applicants to submit a personal statement for college.

Additionally, you might want to adjust your personal statement for different programs. You’ll still submit the same personal statement for college for each school you apply to through the Common App. However, other specialized programs and applications might request a slightly different personal statement format. So, always check the admissions requirements and do your research on every school and each individual program. Your approach to how to start a college essay will depend on each program’s prompts and formats. You can also always look at an example of a personal statement for college for inspiration. 

33 Colleges Without Supplemental Essays

Do colleges care about the personal statement? 

A strong college application essay is extremely important in the admissions process. So, put simply, yes—colleges really do care about the personal statement. Understanding how to start a personal statement means understanding the weight that it carries. Of course, you shouldn’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the process. Rather, try to feel excited by the opportunity to truly show off your personality, skills, background, future goals, and more.

That being said, the extent to which your personal statement impacts your admissions decision will likely vary by school. For instance, some larger state schools may focus foremost on your grades or standardized test scores (due to the fact that they receive such a large volume of applicants and have more spaces available). While these schools will still care about your personal statement, other factors may have a more immediate impact on their admissions decisions. 

On the other hand, top universities with smaller enrollments often place a considerable amount of emphasis on the personal statement. These schools receive more qualified applicants than the places they have available. Your personal statement lets you highlight what makes you unique and how you’ll enrich their campus community. 

How to write a personal statement – Step-by-step guide

A successful personal statement for college will read as passionate and authentic. You’ll notice this in each example of personal statement for college that you read. But how exactly do you write a passionate and authentic essay?

To begin, you’ll likely brainstorm personal statement ideas and decide on your personal statement topic.  However, understanding how to write a personal statement will require more than simply knowing how to start a personal statement. And remember, you can always check out an example of a personal essay for college if you’re feeling stuck. 

How to write a personal statement isn’t a strict process—as seen in this personal statement webinar about rethinking your essay . However, you should follow certain key steps as you craft your essays. Following each step, and allotting yourself sufficient time to do so, will make the writing process all the better. (Tips about staying on track are just as important as the best college essay tips about writing!)

Next, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of how to write a personal statement. This includes brainstorming personal statement ideas, exploring personal statement topics, and reviewing and submitting your personal essays.

Ready to learn just how to write a personal statement? Let’s get started!

How to start a personal statement – First steps

Now, let’s dive into how to start a personal statement. The first steps to how to start a personal statement can be broken down into two parts:

During these steps, you’ll generate personal statement ideas and select your personal statement topics. Without a strong topic, you’ll struggle to write a genuine essay. So, let’s talk about how to generate an essay topic that highlights your passion. 

Step 1: Brainstorm

How to start a personal statement begins with brainstorming a list of ideas. Each stellar example of a personal statement for college likely came from a brainstorming session. But, why is brainstorming so important? 

While some personal statement requirements won’t provide specific prompts for applicants, many will, including the Common App essay. So, you should make sure to choose a great topic that directly answers the prompt. 

Let’s check out some brainstorming exercises that can help you get the great ideas flowing. 

The best way to choose a great topic for a personal statement for college is through your passions. If you’re stuck when it comes to pinpointing your passions, try answering this question: If you were going to host a TED talk, what would it be and why? We all know that TED talks are addicting—that’s because they’re engaging. And they’re engaging because the hosts are talking about their passions. 

So, think about something you would be excited to spend 30-40 minutes discussing in front of an audience. What would you say about it? You might find using voice notes and recording yourself is easier than writing out your ideas. For some students, talking about something may feel easier than immediately putting pen to paper. 

If a TED talk doesn’t get your creative juices flowing, try a classic essay brainstorming method: mind maps. You’ve likely done mind maps in your high school English class. But for those who haven’t, let’s break down the process. 

First, take the prompt for your essay. For instance, maybe it asks about a challenge you’ve faced. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write the prompt on a sheet of paper. Then, next to the prompt, start writing every experience you’ve had that relates to the prompt. This is not the time to get into the details—just focus on potential topics. Even if you’re not sure if something is a perfect fit, include it! At this stage, all ideas are fair game. Later, you can narrow them down to find the topic that you have the most to write about. 

Defining values

Another useful brainstorming exercise for a college application essay, especially when it comes to how to start a personal statement, has to do with defining your values. Most successful personal essays center around a value that students have. Think about the values that are most important to you (loyalty, kindness, empathy, honesty, etc.). Then, create a list of 4-6 values. After that, for each of your values, come up with a list of experiences that reflect them. You can even set a timer for each value. 

Alternatively, you might work backward by coming up with a list of experiences that you find were the most impactful in your life. From these experiences, you can identify values that they instilled or that you embodied. Make sure to focus on an experience that highlights something critical about who you are as a person, student, or community member. You might also consider doing this same activity for qualities or skills depending on the essay prompt. 

Step 2: Free-write

Once you have your topic, it’s time to flex your writing muscles. Don’t feel constrained by the word count at this stage. In fact, forget about a hook, a conclusion, and other literary details. Now is just the time to get your ideas on paper stress-free. 

Struggling with Step 2 in how to start a personal statement? You might benefit from doing a timed free write. Set a timer for 20 minutes and don’t stop writing about the topic until the time is up. Don’t stress about writing the perfect sentence or having the right flow–just keep writing on the topic at hand. You may want to do this step a couple of times if you’re still deciding on the best prompt to respond to. You won’t always find the perfect personal essay topic on the first try, and that’s okay.

However, keep in mind that some topics may read as inappropriate or cliché. If you end up choosing an overused essay topic, you may struggle to come up with a unique angle. (But that doesn’t mean these topics are entirely off-limits!) However, you should not talk about illegal or illicit behavior and never use explicit language. 

While you have free range to pick an essay topic, there are certain errors you can make. Make sure you don’t join the club of students who missed the mark with their personal essays. Learn from this personal statement webinar reviewing common mistakes that students make in their personal essays. Then, you’ll know what to avoid when deciding how to start a personal statement.

How to start a personal statement – Writing & editing

You’ve gotten some answers to the question “what is a personal statement?” and learned how to start a personal statement. Now, it’s time to start a draft. 

For some students, figuring out how to start a college essay is the most stressful part of writing their personal essays. Indeed, you may have to write four to six drafts of your college application essay before you’ve written a personal statement for college that makes you feel proud. 

This is why our top piece of advice for how to write a great college essay is to start early. If you start early, you’ll have plenty of time to learn how to write a personal statement. You’ll also have the flexibility to write multiple drafts of your personal essays. Additionally, you’ll be able to read an example of a personal statement for college. 

Time also allows you the freedom to try out multiple personal statement topics. That way, you can find the personal statement format that makes for a powerful college application essay.

In this section, we’ll provide some college essay tips for outlining your personal statement, an important step for how to start a personal statement.

One idea for how to start a college essay is to draft an outline. An outline is simply a list of the ideas that will go into each part of your essay. You can format your outline in any way that makes sense for you. 

By outlining, you can remove some of the pressure around how to start a personal statement. Instead of putting pen to paper to write a whole essay , you just have to jot down what order you want your ideas to go in. Think of an outline as a sketch of a picture you want to draw. Once you have that sketch, drawing the rest of the picture is usually easier.

However, outlining is not for everyone. Some students find outlining stressful, limiting, or confusing. If you’d rather jump into writing your personal statement on a blank page, do so. At the end of the day, when figuring out how to start a personal statement, you should follow the writing process that works best for you.  

Drafting Your College Essay

Regardless of whether you choose to outline your ideas, here are some tips for how to start a college essay draft:

Find a beginning, middle, and end to your story.

As we’ve shared, a strong personal statement for college tells a story about who you are and demonstrates what you would bring to a college campus. 

To write a strong example of a personal statement for college, you must have a beginning, middle, and end. By this, we mean that your essay should introduce and build upon ideas until they lead to some kind of resolution usually related to your personal growth. Think about your favorite book or movie – how did the story develop and resolve itself? Make sure your personal essays do the same.

Develop your hook.

The key to how to start a personal statement is with a hook. As we shared above, a hook is an engaging personal statement introduction that catches the reader’s attention. In your outline, consider adding some ideas for potential hooks. 

A hook can include, but is not limited to, any of the following types of opening sentences:

  • A piece of dialogue (i.e. “Do you remember the summer we went to Turkey?” said my mother.)
  • A description of a scene (i.e., The Alaskan lake was warm that summer, the sun gleaming off its gentle ripples.)
  • A thought-provoking question (i.e., What makes a house feel like a home?)
  • A relevant and powerful quote (i.e., When Steve Jobs said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking back,” he gave words to a struggle I have long faced.) 
  • An unexpected thought (i.e., I am the fourth of eleven children in my family and the first one to dream of going to college.)

Each of the above personal statement introductions is unique and original. Additionally, all of these hooks make the reader wonder what else is coming in the essay. Indeed, each of these hooks is a great idea for how to start a college essay. 

When thinking about how to start a college essay, avoid using cliché or generic personal statement introductions. In general, don’t directly answer college essay prompts like “A challenge I have faced is…”. These types of personal statement introductions are so common that they tend to lose the reader’s attention quickly.

Jot down details.

After identifying a hook, begin telling your story. In your outline, include any details that make your story unique. While some students assume that personal statement topics must be very rare or ground-breaking, in most cases the details are what set essays apart. 

What do you remember that can help the reader experience your story vividly? How can you evoke their senses or emotions in a way that makes them feel and remember your story? Keeping these questions in mind will unlock many tools for how to write a great college essay.

Identify reflections.

Stories are powerful not only for how they make us feel but for what they teach us. When you jot down your outline, consider what reflections or lessons you have to share. Why does your story matter? What does it demonstrate about who you are? 

Your essay should be descriptive and show us what you were experiencing. However, you can also include a few lines that tell the reader what you want them to take away. Usually, these reflections come towards the end of the essay, but they can also be sprinkled throughout. 

How to Write a Personal Statement – Polish and Revise 

Now that you’ve learned how to start a personal statement, let’s discuss what some consider to be the most critical part of writing an essay – revising. Polishing and revising an essay are the keys for how to write a great college essay. When you look at an example of a personal statement for college, remember that the student probably spent many hours revising that essay.

When revising your personal essays, avoid getting frustrated by how long the process takes. The key for how to write a personal statement without getting too overwhelmed is to be gentle and compassionate with yourself. Just like living your story takes time, energy, and resilience, so does writing your story in a college application essay. Rather than getting frustrated, celebrate how much you have learned about how to start a college essay.

In the next section, we’ll dive deeper into college essay tips for revising your personal essays. 

Step 4: Revise

If you’re wondering how to write a personal statement for college, you’re probably also wondering how to revise one. Revision is the process during which you review what you have written for errors and to check whether the ideas make sense. You might also revise to find ways to shorten your essay if it is too long or expand on ideas that you didn’t fully flesh out. 

Here are some college essay tips for revision:

College Essay Revision Tips

1. take breaks.

After you write your first draft, step away from it for at least 24 hours. When we spend a long time working on a piece of writing, sometimes our brains find it hard to focus. Stepping away will give you time to let your brain rest and return to it with fresh eyes.

We also recommend taking breaks whenever you feel stuck, a condition sometimes called writer’s block. While you might feel that pushing through is the best option, stepping away for a glass of water or a stretch can rejuvenate your body and give new energy to your mind as well. Taking care of yourself is actually one of the keys for how to write a personal statement that represents your best work. 

2. Make a revision checklist

Create a list of items to look for as you revise. That way, you won’t miss anything. Here are some ideas for what how to start a personal statement revision checklist:

  • Structure/flow – Does the structure of my essay support its meaning? A structure can refer to the length of paragraphs, the order of ideas, or the format. Maybe your essay has a lot of dialogue, but now you have realized the dialogue is distracting. 
  • Repetitive language – Do you use the same words or phrases over and over again? While you may have fallen into repetition when figuring out how to start a personal statement, try varying vocabulary or rephrasing sentence structure to keep the reader interested.
  • Spelling/grammar/syntax – Run your essay through an app like Grammarly and always use spell check. Look for ways to remove unnecessary words or shorten sentences. Generally, the fewer words you use to express an idea, the easier it will be for the reader to understand.
  • Narrative voice – This refers to the voice you use to tell your story. Is it very informal? Do you sound like you are texting with friends? One of the keys for how to write a personal statement is to use your own voice while still remembering that you are speaking to a college admissions officer. As experts in how to write a great college essay know, avoid slang and spell out contractions for added formality.

3. Read your essay aloud

Reading your essay out loud can help you find mistakes. Even more importantly, it can also help you feel if the essay captures your voice. When you read it out loud, does your essay sound like you? Are there words in your essay that you would never use in real life? These questions can help you determine if you need to adjust the narrative voice of your essay. After all, admissions officers want to hear what you sound like, not a parent or friend.

4. Get help

Whether you’re stuck on how to write a personal statement or not, it’s always a good idea to get another set of eyes on your essay. Just be careful who you select. Make sure you are asking someone who knows how to write a personal statement and can give you the right kind of feedback. 

Also, consider asking both someone who knows you well and someone who does not know you well. The person who knows you well, like a teacher, parent, counselor, or college advisor (like our team of experts at CollegeAdvisor) can make sure your voice comes across. A person who does not know you well can provide input from an outsider’s perspective. Ultimately, when you submit your college essay, you will be sending it to someone who has never met you. As such, it should make sense to people who don’t know you as well.

5. Don’t be afraid to start over

Sometimes, during the revision process, you may realize that your topic doesn’t work for you. Perhaps you realize that you were so worried about how to start a personal statement that you chose a topic you thought others wanted to read instead of one that really resonates with you. Or, maybe you just thought of a new idea for how to start a personal statement that you like a lot better. It is totally normal to redraft entire paragraphs or simply throw out the essay and start over . Even though it may seem like you have wasted time, you were learning throughout the entire process about how to write a personal statement. 

Starting over might be the best approach for you and allow you to write an essay that feels more authentic . However, do not simply start over because you are being hyper-critical of yourself. Focus as much on what you like about your essay as the parts that you do not. Do not let perfectionism cause you to throw away a perfectly good essay.

On average, students learning how to write a great college essay need to write four to six drafts until they are ready to submit. However, if you have done your research on how to write a personal statement, it may take you less. After six drafts, ask yourself if you really need to keep working on the essay, or if you are letting perfectionism get the best of you. Remember, no essay is perfect. As long as your personal statement reflects your true voice and shares a compelling story about how you became who you are, you’re likely ready to submit it.

In the next section, we will dive deeper into the final steps for how to write a great college essay that you should take before hitting submit.

Step 5: Final Review & Submit

Congratulations! You’re almost ready to submit your personal statement for college. You’ve learned how to write a personal statement, brainstormed and drafted one, and revised it. Before you hit submit, here is a final checklist of questions to ask yourself: 

1. Did I answer the prompt fully?

Just like you plug your answer back into a math equation to see if it works, plug your essay back into the prompt. Make sure each part of the question is being answered.

2. Did I meet the word or character count?

While it is okay to be a bit under the word count, as long as you answer the question fully, going over the word count will usually mean you cannot submit your essay. 

3. Does my essay paste neatly into the application?

Before pasting your essay into the online application, we recommend pasting your essay into a Word document or Google document. Make sure to remove any formatting like bolding, italics, or comments. Left-align your essay so that it is easy to read. And, double check that spacing between sentences and paragraphs is uniform. 

While these might seem like small details, they all add to the impression you make upon admissions officers about how prepared you might be to attend their school.  Take advantage of the option to download the PDF summary of your application, if it exists, to ensure everything looks neat before you submit it.

If you can answer all these questions with a yes, you’re probably ready to submit your essay. Now, you can teach others how to write a personal statement, too. 

How to start a personal statement

At this point, you have reviewed all the steps for how to write a personal statement for college. We’d like to remind you of some important parts of this process that will help ease any stress related to writing your college essays.

First, try brainstorming first. Writing a college essay is a lot different than most academic writing you’ll have done, and it’s natural to face some writer’s block. By taking advantage of brainstorming exercises, you can get used to the idea of writing about yourself in a low-pressure environment. Some students want to skip brainstorming because they find this step unnecessary or a waste of time. 

In fact, brainstorming can help you write your essay faster because your personal statement ideas will already be on paper. Brainstorming can also help you avoid writing an essay and then realizing you do not like your topic, leading to you having to write a whole new draft.

Another key point in how to start a personal statement is to write a good “hook.” However, this doesn’t need to be the first thing that you write as you begin the drafting process. Just like writing a title sometimes is easier after you have written a paper, it can be easier to find your hook after you have fleshed out other parts of your essay.

Starting early

Regardless of what approach you take, remember that the most important piece of advice for how to start a personal statement is to start early. If you begin the process early, you’ll have time to learn about personal statement format and personal statement meaning, brainstorm essay ideas, watch personal statement webinars, and review sample essays. All of these steps will help you learn how to write a personal statement that is strong and clear.

Below, we’ll help you learn more about how to start a personal statement by providing brainstorming exercises to come up with personal statement ideas.

Generating personal statement ideas

The first question many students ask when learning how to start a personal statement is how to come up with personal statement ideas. As we have mentioned, brainstorming forms a key part of this process.

Importantly, there are many ways to brainstorm. So, even if you think you do not like to brainstorm, consider revising these brainstorming methods. One of them might open up ideas for how to start your personal statement that you had never considered.

One important note is that you do not have to use college essay prompts as the starting point for your brainstorming process. While they can certainly jog your thinking, sometimes they can also limit your creativity. Since most of the Common App and Coalition App prompts are open-ended, you can usually turn most ideas into a great response to college essay prompts.

Keep reading for activities that can help you brainstorm your personal statement for college. 

Here are some ideas for brainstorming personal statement topics:

Brainstorming Activities

1. make a timeline of important life events.

Students who ask “what is a personal statement?” are often concerned that they have to tell their entire life story in 650 words. While this is not true, your personal statement should highlight key life events. A life event can include a big change, an accomplishment, or a time of deep personal growth. 

For this activity, consider making a timeline of important life events. Do so without judgment or filtering. No event is too small to include. After you have completed your timeline, consider if any event is one that you want to share in your college application essay. One of these events might be a great hook for your personal statement introduction and give you ideas for how to start a personal statement.

2. Make lists

Lists are an excellent way to brainstorm personal statement topics. Try making lists of accomplishments, challenges you have faced, people who have taught you important life lessons, values, fears, hobbies, or mistakes you have made. Remember that it is perfectly fine to talk about times when you feel you failed or made mistakes if you can show how you learned and grew from the experience.

3. Ask trusted people for ideas

Brainstorming does not have to happen alone. Ask friends, family, mentors, teachers, classmates, or others who know you well to tell you what your most important character traits are. You’d be surprised what people will share. Perhaps one of your friends sees you as adventurous because you like to take new routes to school every day, and you had never considered that to be a noteworthy trait of yours. This feedback could be the inspiration you need for how to start a personal statement.

4. Free-write

Rather than trying to find an idea, allow yourself the freedom to free-write. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write without stopping. Write a response to any of the following questions :

  • What matters to you?
  • What do you want others to know about you?
  • What is the hardest thing you have ever gone through? How did you get through it?
  • What brings you joy?
  • How have you grown or changed in the past few years?

If you feel at a loss for words, write “I don’t know” over and over until a new idea pops into your head. The idea is to allow your brain to flow without restriction or pressure. Do not judge what you write, just allow it to be. When you have completed your free-write, look through what you wrote looking for meaningful stories or learnings you might want to share.

Undoubtedly, these are just a few ideas for how to start a personal statement and find a good personal statement introduction. If none of these work, do not despair. Instead, try a different route for coming up with personal statement topics. For instance, you may try reading an example of a personal statement for college or checking out this personal statement webinar. 

In the next section, we’ll discuss how to use sample essays when figuring out how to write a personal statement.

Using personal statement examples

When looking for answers to questions like “What is a personal statement?” or “How to start a personal statement?” college application essay examples can be very helpful. In this section, we’ll look at how to write a personal statement for college and identify college essay tips with the help of sample essays .

Sample Personal Essays

In this article , we review ten essays that provide ideas for how to start a personal statement. Whether writing about books or gymnastics, each example of a personal statement for college highlights a unique important aspect of a student’s life. In addition, each student provides meaningful insights into how their thinking developed over time.

How to Write a Personal Statement: 5 Personal Statement Examples

Check out this resource to see five excellent responses to the Common App college essay prompts. Note how each essay has a unique hook that captures the reader’s attention.

College Essay Examples: 10 Best Examples of College Essays and Why They Worked

Wondering how a personal statement format impacts the essay’s meaning? This essay compilation answers that question and much more, providing college essay tips based on what worked in these personal essays.

How to Analyze an Example of a Personal Statement for College

If you’re looking for ideas on how to start a personal statement, then reading sample essays is an excellent idea. However, be careful not to copy others’ work. In this section, we’ll discuss how to use these samples when you develop your own personal statement meaning and personal statement format.

First, be authentic. While it is important to find inspiration in others’ work, copying topics or phrases is dangerous. At best, it will come across as disingenuous to admissions officers, who read thousands of essays. At worst, it can get you into serious trouble. 

Instead, use these samples to learn about how to write a personal statement. As you read them, ask yourself questions such as:

  • Why did the writer choose this topic?
  • How does the first sentence of the essay engage the reader?
  • What structure does the personal statement use?
  • How does this personal statement format add to the essay’s intrigue?
  • What does this essay teach us about the writer?
  • In what ways might this essay be an expression of the writer’s personal brand ?

Take notes as you read each example of a personal statement for college. In your notes, identify general thoughts regarding the questions “What is a personal statement?” and “How to start a college essay?” If you can answer these questions fully after reading sample essays, you’re on your way to acing your college essay.

How to Start a Personal Statement: Final Thoughts

With this article, we answered the question: “What is a personal statement?” By breaking the personal statement meaning, we found tips for approaching many kinds of college essay prompts. We also identified why personal statement meaning is important to colleges and how to write a great college essay that will help your application shine.

Even skilled writers struggle with how to write a personal statement. Personal essays are difficult not only because they require a certain level of vulnerability , but also because the personal statement format is not something we use often in our day-to-day lives. For that reason, it is difficult to know how to start a college essay.

Throughout this guide, we provided resources like personal statement webinars and sample essays. We also highlighted how to use an example of a personal statement for college in your own process. Within these samples, you’ll find lots of ideas for how to start a personal statement.

Whenever you feel overwhelmed by thinking about how to start a personal statement, remember that you are not alone. Our team can provide you with additional insights and individualized coaching about how to write a personal statement for college. With support, you will be able to express who you are and ace your personal statement. Good luck!

This article was written by Sarah Kaminski and senior advisor, Courtney Ng . Looking for more admissions support? 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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In addition to standardized test scores and transcripts, a personal statement or essay is a required part of many college applications. The personal statement can be one of the most stressful parts of the application process because it's the most open ended.

In this guide, I'll answer the question, "What is a personal statement?" I'll talk through common college essay topics and what makes for an effective personal statement.

College Essay Glossary

Even the terminology can be confusing if you aren't familiar with it, so let's start by defining some terms:

Personal statement —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 essay —basically the same as a personal statement (I'll be using the terms interchangeably).

Essay prompt —a question or statement that your college essay is meant to respond to.

Supplemental essay —an extra school or program-specific essay beyond the basic personal statement.

Many colleges ask for only one essay. However, some schools do ask you to respond to multiple prompts or to provide supplemental essays in addition to a primary personal statement.

Either way, don't let it stress you out! This guide will cover everything you need to know about the different types of college essays and get you started thinking about how to write a great one:

  • Why colleges ask for an essay
  • What kinds of essay questions you'll see
  • What sets great essays apart
  • Tips for writing your own essay

Why Do Colleges Ask For an Essay?

There are a couple of reasons that colleges ask applicants to submit an essay, but the basic idea is that it gives them more information about you, especially who you are beyond grades and test scores.

#1: Insight Into Your Personality

The most important role of the essay is to give admissions committees a sense of your personality and what kind of addition you'd be to their school's community . Are you inquisitive? Ambitious? Caring? These kinds of qualities will have a profound impact on your college experience, but they're hard to determine based on a high school transcript.

Basically, the essay contextualizes your application and shows what kind of person you are outside of your grades and test scores . Imagine two students, Jane and Tim: they both have 3.5 GPAs and 1200s on the SAT. Jane lives in Colorado and is the captain of her track team; Tim lives in Vermont and regularly contributes to the school paper. They both want to be doctors, and they both volunteer at the local hospital.

As similar as Jane and Tim seem on paper, in reality, they're actually quite different, and their unique perspectives come through in their essays. Jane writes about how looking into her family history for a school project made her realize how the discovery of modern medical treatments like antibiotics and vaccines had changed the world and drove her to pursue a career as a medical researcher. Tim, meanwhile, recounts a story about how a kind doctor helped him overcome his fear of needles, an interaction that reminded him of the value of empathy and inspired him to become a family practitioner. These two students may seem outwardly similar but their motivations and personalities are very different.

Without an essay, your application is essentially a series of numbers: a GPA, SAT scores, the number of hours spent preparing for quiz bowl competitions. The personal statement is your chance to stand out as an individual.

#2: Evidence of Writing Skills

A secondary purpose of the essay is to serve as a writing sample and help colleges see that you have the skills needed to succeed in college classes. The personal statement is your best chance to show off your writing , so take the time to craft a piece you're really proud of.

That said, don't panic if you aren't a strong writer. Admissions officers aren't expecting you to write like Joan Didion; they just want to see that you can express your ideas clearly.

No matter what, your essay should absolutely not include any errors or typos .

#3: Explanation of Extenuating Circumstances

For some students, the essay is also a chance to explain factors affecting their high school record. Did your grades drop sophomore year because you were dealing with a family emergency? Did you miss out on extracurriculars junior year because of an extended medical absence? Colleges want to know if you struggled with a serious issue that affected your high school record , so make sure to indicate any relevant circumstances on your application.

Keep in mind that in some cases there will be a separate section for you to address these types of issues, as well as any black marks on your record like expulsions or criminal charges.

#4: Your Reasons for Applying to the School

Many colleges ask you to write an essay or paragraph about why you're applying to their school specifically . In asking these questions, admissions officers are trying to determine if you're genuinely excited about the school and whether you're likely to attend if accepted .

I'll talk more about this type of essay below.

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What Kind of Questions Do Colleges Ask?

Thankfully, applications don't simply say, "Please include an essay about yourself"; they include a question or prompt that you're asked to respond to . These prompts are generally pretty open-ended and can be approached in a lot of different ways .

Nonetheless, most questions fall into a few main categories. Let's go through each common type of prompt, with examples from the Common Application, the University of California application, and a few individual schools.

Prompt Type 1: Your Personal History

This sort of question asks you to write about a formative experience, important event, or key relationship from your life . Admissions officers want to understand what is important to you and how your background has shaped you as a person.

These questions are both common and tricky. The most common pit students fall into is trying to tell their entire life stories. It's better to focus in on a very specific point in time and explain why it was meaningful to you.

Common App 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.

Common App 5

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

University of California 2

Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

University of California 6

Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

Prompt Type 2: Facing a Problem

A lot of prompts deal with how you solve problems, how you cope with failure, and how you respond to conflict. College can be difficult, both personally and academically, and admissions committees want to see that you're equipped to face those challenges .

The key to these types of questions is to identify a real problem, failure, or conflict ( not a success in disguise) and show how you adapted and grew from addressing the issue.

Common App 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?

Harvard University 7

The Harvard College Honor Code declares that we “hold honesty as the foundation of our community.” As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.

Prompt Type 3: Diversity

Most colleges are pretty diverse, with students from a wide range of backgrounds. Essay questions about diversity are designed to help admissions committees understand how you interact with people who are different from you .

In addressing these prompts, you want to show that you're capable of engaging with new ideas and relating to people who may have different beliefs than you.

Common App 3

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Johns Hopkins University

Tell us about an aspect of your identity (e.g., race, gender, sexuality, religion, community) or a life experience that has shaped you as an individual and how that influenced what you’d like to pursue in college at Hopkins.  This can be a future goal or experience that is either [sic] academic, extracurricular, or social.

Duke University Optional 1

We believe a wide range of personal perspectives, beliefs, and lived experiences are essential to making Duke a vibrant and meaningful living and learning community. Feel free to share with us anything in this context that might help us better understand you and what you might bring to our community. 

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Prompt Type 4: Your Future Goals

This type of prompt asks about what you want to do in the future: sometimes simply what you'd like to study, sometimes longer-term career goals. Colleges want to understand what you're interested in and how you plan to work towards your goals.

You'll mostly see these prompts if you're applying for a specialized program (like pre-med or engineering) or applying as a transfer student. Some schools also ask for supplementary essays along these lines. 

University of Southern California (Architecture)

Princeton Supplement 1

Prompt Type 5: Why This School

The most common style of supplemental essay is the "why us?" essay, although a few schools with their own application use this type of question as their main prompt. In these essays, you're meant to address the specific reasons you want to go to the school you're applying to .

Whatever you do, don't ever recycle these essays for more than one school.

Chapman University

There are thousands of universities and colleges. Why are you interested in attending Chapman?

Columbia University

Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? We encourage you to consider the aspect(s) that you find unique and compelling about Columbia.

Rice University

Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you?

Princeton University

Princeton has a longstanding commitment to understanding our responsibility to society through service and civic engagement. How does your own story intersect with these ideals?

Prompt Type 6: Creative Prompts

More selective schools often have supplemental essays with stranger or more unique questions. University of Chicago is notorious for its weird prompts, but it's not the only school that will ask you to think outside the box in addressing its questions.

University of Chicago

“Vlog,” “Labradoodle,” and “Fauxmage.” Language is filled with portmanteaus. Create a new portmanteau and explain why those two things are a “patch” (perfect match).

University of Vermont

Established in Burlington, VT, Ben & Jerry’s is synonymous with both ice cream and social change. The “Save Our Swirled” flavor raises awareness of climate change, and “I Dough, I Dough” celebrates marriage equality. If you worked alongside Ben & Jerry, what charitable flavor would you develop and why?

body_uchicago

What Makes a Strong Personal Statement?

OK , so you're clear on what a college essay is, but you're still not sure how to write a good one . To help you get started, I'm going to explain the main things admissions officers look for in students' essays: an engaging perspective, genuine moments, and lively writing .

I've touched on these ideas already, but here, I'll go into more depth about how the best essays stand out from the pack.

Showing Who You Are

A lot of students panic about finding a unique topic, and certainly writing about something unusual like a successful dating app you developed with your friends or your time working as a mall Santa can't hurt you. But what's really important isn't so much what you write about as how you write about it . You need to use your subject to show something deeper about yourself.

Look at the prompts above: you'll notice that they almost all ask you what you learned or how the experience affected you. Whatever topic you pick, you must be able to specifically address how or why it matters to you .

Say a student, Will, was writing about the mall Santa in response to Common App prompt number 2 (the one about failure): Will was a terrible mall Santa. He was way too skinny to be convincing and the kids would always step on his feet. He could easily write 600 very entertaining words describing this experience, but they wouldn't necessarily add up to an effective college essay.

To do that, he'll need to talk about his motivations and his feelings: why he took such a job in the first place and what he did (and didn't) get out of it. Maybe Will took the job because he needed to make some money to go on a school trip and it was the only one he could find. Despite his lack of enthusiasm for screaming children, he kept doing it because he knew if he persevered through the whole holiday season he would have enough money for his trip. Would you rather read "I failed at being a mall Santa" or "Failing as a mall Santa taught me how to persevere no matter what"? Admissions officers definitely prefer the latter.

Ultimately, the best topics are ones that allow you to explain something surprising about yourself .

Since the main point of the essay is to give schools a sense of who you are, you have to open up enough to let them see your personality . Writing a good college essay means being honest about your feelings and experiences even when they aren't entirely positive.

In this context, honesty doesn't mean going on at length about the time you broke into the local pool at night and nearly got arrested, but it does mean acknowledging when something was difficult or upsetting for you. Think about the mall Santa example above. The essay won't work unless the writer genuinely acknowledges that he was a bad Santa and explains why.

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Eloquent Writing

As I mentioned above, colleges want to know that you are a strong enough writer to survive in college classes . Can you express your ideas clearly and concisely? Can you employ specific details appropriately and avoid clichés and generalizations? These kinds of skills will serve you well in college (and in life!).

Nonetheless, admissions officers recognize that different students have different strengths. They aren't looking for a poetic magnum opus from someone who wants to be a math major. (Honestly, they aren't expecting a masterwork from anyone , but the basic point stands.) Focus on making sure that your thoughts and personality come through, and don't worry about using fancy vocabulary or complex rhetorical devices.

Above all, make sure that you have zero grammar or spelling errors . Typos indicate carelessness, which will hurt your cause with admissions officers.

Top Five Essay-Writing Tips

Now that you have a sense of what colleges are looking for, let's talk about how you can put this new knowledge into practice as you approach your own essay. Below, I've collected my five best tips from years as a college essay counselor.

#1: Start Early!

No matter how much you want to avoid writing your essay, don't leave it until the last minute . One of the most important parts of the essay writing process is editing, and editing takes a lot of time. You want to be able to put your draft in a drawer for a week and come back to it with fresh eyes. You don't want to be stuck with an essay you don't really like because you have to submit your application tomorrow.

You need plenty of time to experiment and rewrite, so I would recommend starting your essays at least two months before the application deadline . For most students, that means starting around Halloween, but if you're applying early, you'll need to get going closer to Labor Day.

Of course, it's even better to get a head start and begin your planning earlier. Many students like to work on their essays over the summer, when they have more free time, but you should keep in mind that each year's application isn't usually released until August or September. Essay questions often stay the same from year to year, however. If you are looking to get a jump on writing, you can try to confirm with the school (or the Common App) whether the essay questions will be the same as the previous year's.

#2: Pick a Topic You're Genuinely Excited About

One of the biggest mistakes students make is trying to write what they think the committee wants to hear. The truth is that there's no "right answer" when it comes to college essays . T he best topics aren't limited to specific categories like volunteer experiences or winning a tournament. Instead, they're topics that actually matter to the writer .

"OK," you're thinking, "but what does she mean by 'a topic that matters to you'? Because to be perfectly honest, right now, what really matters to me is that fall TV starts up this week, and I have a feeling I shouldn't write about that."

You're not wrong (although some great essays have been written about television ). A great topic isn't just something that you're excited about or that you talk to your friends about; it's something that has had a real, describable effect on your perspective .

This doesn't mean that you should overemphasize how something absolutely changed your life , especially if it really didn't. Instead, try to be as specific and honest as you can about how the experience affected you, what it taught you, or what you got out of it.

Let's go back to the TV idea. Sure, writing an essay about how excited you are for the new season of Stranger Things  probably isn't the quickest way to get yourself into college, but you could write a solid essay (in response to the first type of prompt) about how SpongeBob SquarePants was an integral part of your childhood. However, it's not enough to just explain how much you loved SpongeBob—you must also explain why and how watching the show every day after school affected your life. For example, maybe it was a ritual you shared with your brother, which showed you how even seemingly silly pieces of pop culture can bring people together. Dig beneath the surface to show who you are and how you see the world.

When you write about something you don't really care about, your writing will come out clichéd and uninteresting, and you'll likely struggle to motivate yourself. When you instead write about something that is genuinely important to you, you can make even the most ordinary experiences—learning to swim, eating a meal, or watching TV—engaging .

body_spongebob

#3: Focus on Specifics

But how do you write an interesting essay? Focus.

Don't try to tell your entire life story or even the story of an entire weekend; 500–650 words may seem like a lot, but you'll reach that limit quickly if you try to pack every single thing that has happened to you into your essay. If, however, you just touch on a wide range of topics, you'll end up with an essay that reads more like a résumé.

Instead, narrow in on one specific event or idea, and talk about it in more depth . The narrower your topic, the better. For example, writing about your role as Mercutio in your school's production of Romeo and Juliet is too general, but writing about opening night, when everything went wrong, could be a great topic.

Whatever your topic, use details to help draw the reader in and express your unique perspective. But keep in mind that you don't have to include every detail of what you did or thought; stick to the important and illustrative ones.

#4: Use Your Own Voice

College essays aren't academic assignments; you don't need to be super formal. Instead, try to be yourself. The best writing sounds like a more eloquent version of the way you talk .

Focus on using clear, simple language that effectively explains a point or evokes a feeling. To do so, avoid the urge to use fancy-sounding synonyms when you don't really know what they mean. Contractions are fine; slang, generally, is not. Don't hesitate to write in the first person.

A final note: you don't need to be relentlessly positive. It's OK to acknowledge that sometimes things don't go how you want—just show how you grew from that.

#5: Be Ruthless

Many students want to call it a day after writing a first draft, but editing is a key part of writing a truly great essay. To be clear, editing doesn't mean just making a few minor wording tweaks and cleaning up typos; it means reading your essay carefully and objectively and thinking about how you could improve it .

Ask yourself questions as you read: is the progression of the essay clear? Do you make a lot of vague, sweeping statements that could be replaced with more interesting specifics? Do your sentences flow together nicely? Do you show something about yourself beyond the surface level?

You will have to delete and rewrite (potentially large) parts of your essay, and no matter how attached you feel to something you wrote, you might have to let it go . If you've ever heard the phrase "kill your darlings," know that it is 100% applicable to college essay writing.

At some point, you might even need to rewrite the whole essay. Even though it's annoying, starting over is sometimes the best way to get an essay that you're really proud of.

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What's Next?

Make sure to check out our other posts on college essays , including our step-by-step guide to how to write your college essay , our analysis of the Common App Prompts , and our collection of example essays .

If you're in need of guidance on other parts of the application process , take a look at our guides to choosing the right college for you , writing about extracurriculars , deciding to double major , and requesting teacher recommendations .

Last but not least, if you're planning on taking the SAT one last time , check out our ultimate guide to studying for the SAT and make sure you're as prepared as possible.

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

Alex is an experienced tutor and writer. Over the past five years, she has worked with almost a hundred students and written about pop culture for a wide range of publications. She graduated with honors from University of Chicago, receiving a BA in English and Anthropology, and then went on to earn an MA at NYU in Cultural Reporting and Criticism. In high school, she was a National Merit Scholar, took 12 AP tests and scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and ACT.

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how to write college personal statement

What Is a College Personal Statement?

You know you need to write a personal statement for colleges—but what exactly is it? How much does it matter? And most importantly, what should you say in it? Read on to find out the ins and outs of a college personal statement.

What Is a Personal Statement?

While other aspects of your application offer insight into your academic skills, the personal statement shows colleges your personality. Sometimes, the personal statement is used interchangeably with Common or Coalition Application essay, which is usually written based on an assigned topic or topic of your choice about a specific issue. But some colleges will have you write both. In that case, the personal statement may be shorter and more about you as a person and your ambitions, rather than the essay, which will focus on the topic of choice.

Your personal statement also gives colleges a glimpse into your thinking process and showcases your writing skills. It is NOT a regurgitation of your resume; it’s about you—your ambitions, dreams, and personality. Learn more about it in Mastering the Personal Statement: How to Be Confident Without Being Overconfident .

How Much Does the Personal Statement Matter to Colleges?

In short: It depends. A huge public university might not place as much weight on your personal statement, because this type of school focuses more on the numbers and has too many applicants to review each one in detail. Smaller schools will likely pay more attention, although they will probably weed out unqualified applicants based on test scores and GPA first.

how to write college personal statement

Essentially, if you’re a borderline candidate, your personal statement could push you over the top. However, it’s not going to make up for weak stats. Furthermore, if you want to major in a writing-related discipline such as English or creative writing, your essay will need to be particularly strong. After all, your writing skills are the basis of your candidacy. For more thoughts, read How Important Is the College Essay? .

How Do I Come Up With an Idea for a Personal Statement?

Brainstorming is key to developing a great topic for your personal statement. Spend some time thinking about your interests, passions, and goals. Consider challenges you’ve faced, unique activities or spins on common ones, and adversity. Bounce ideas off of friends and family members, or ask for their tips. For more strategies for developing a topic, check out these posts:

What If I Don’t Have Anything Interesting to Write About in My College Essay?

How to Come Up With an Idea for a Personal Statement .

What Topics Should I Avoid?

There are, of course, some topics you should avoid in your personal statement. They include cliche ideas like sports injuries or pet death. These are overused and likely to annoy adcoms. You should also avoid overly controversial topics . It’s fine to discuss ways you’ve participated in political events or groups, but steer clear of making inflammatory statements that might bother someone who has a different view or belief from you.

You should also, of course, avoid writing anything prejudicial or using hate language against any group, person, or demographic, as well as anything inappropriate. Finally, as noted earlier, don’t regurgitate your resume. While you can make note of an accomplishment as it relates to your topic, your essay shouldn’t just be a list of achievements; instead, it should show adcoms who you really are.

A Final Word

Your personal statement is about you. You’re showing colleges the person behind the application. What are your unique takes on issues? What would it be like to have a conversation with you? Who are you? These are the types of questions you should consider when writing. Approach it like you want adcoms to get to know the real you—because that’s the whole point.

For more tips on writing a personal statement, read:

  • How to Write a Personal Statement That Wows Colleges
  • How to Write an Impressive College Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide
  • 5 Ways to Tell If You Have a Good Personal Statement Topic

Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. You can also get your essay peer-reviewed and improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

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Home › University › How To Write A Personal Statement? 10 Tips + Student Questions Answered › How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples

How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples

  • Published January 20, 2023

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Table of Contents

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.

how to write a personal statement introductions

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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University of Bridgeport News

tips for writing a personal statement

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
  • Inspiration

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!

Academic Personal Statement Guide + Examples for 2024

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You have a bright future ahead of you in academia and you’ve already found the program of your dreams.

The only problem? 

You have to write an impressive academic personal statement that sets you apart from a sea of applicants.

We know that writing about yourself might not come naturally. And when the academic program you have your sights set on is on the line, it doesn’t make it any easier.

But there’s no need to worry!

We’ve prepared this guide to help you write your academic personal statement and secure your spot in your program of choice.

In this article, we’re going to cover:

  • What Is An Academic Personal Statement?
  • 7 Steps to Writing the Best Academic Personal Statement
  • An Example of a Stellar Academic Personal Statement

Let’s dive in.

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You’ll need an academic CV alongside your personal statement. Create one with ease with Novorésumé !

What Is an Academic Personal Statement?

A personal statement is an essential part of the academic application process.

Much like a motivation letter , your academic personal statement serves to demonstrate why you’re the right candidate for the course and sell yourself as a capable student.

Your goal is to show the admissions committee that they’ll benefit from having you in their university as much as you’ll benefit from joining the program.

Academic Vs CV Personal Statement

The term ‘personal statement’ can mean different things depending on your field.

In the world of job hunting, a personal statement usually refers to a few sentences that go at the top of your CV . This paragraph is meant to convey your top skills, relevant experiences, and professional goals to a hiring manager from the get-go and increase your chances of getting an interview.

However, in the world of academia, a personal statement refers to a more in-depth description of you as a candidate. 

In a nutshell, an academic personal statement shows the admissions committee your academic achievements so far, as well as what motivated you to apply and pursue this position.

Personal statements are also often required when applying for certain jobs, much like writing a cover letter . If you’re looking at a position as a faculty member in a university or other academic institution, for example, you might be asked to provide an academic personal statement.

7 Steps to Write an Academic Personal Statement

Preparation is the key to success and this is exactly where our guide comes in handy.

So just follow these steps and you’re sure to secure your spot:

#1. Read the Brief (Carefully!)

Academic personal statements aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all piece of writing. 

Typically, every institution has its specific requirements on what candidates should include in their academic personal statement.

To make sure you’re on the right track with your academic personal statement, read the brief carefully. Consider taking notes and highlighting important points from your program’s brief as you go through it.

Pay attention to any specific question the university wants you to answer. If you don’t address everything the admissions board expects, your personal statement will look sloppy and you’ll be considered an inattentive candidate.

Be sure to re-read the brief after you’ve finished writing your academic personal statement, too. This way you can make sure you’ve answered everything adequately and you’ll have the opportunity to correct any slips.

#2. Research the Program

Make sure you do your homework on the academic program you’re applying to.

You can’t write a good academic personal statement without research, let alone a great one. Much like researching your employer , taking the time to learn more about your desired school and personalizing your application can make a huge difference.

For example, you can dive into how your values align with that of the school you’re applying to, and how your experience and interests relate to specific things about the program. The more you focus on how you’re the right fit for this specific position, in this specific program – the better.

Carefully read through the school and program’s official pages since everything you would need to know is probably on the school’s official website. You can also ask current and former students for help but remember that whatever they say should never replace official information when crafting your academic personal statement.

#3. Plan Your Statement

An academic personal statement is meant to explain your academic interests and shouldn’t contain irrelevant details about your personal life.

Focus on why you want to study the course you’ve chosen and provide any information about your achievements so far.

Ask yourself the following questions to get the ball rolling on what to write:

  • Why do you want to study (or work) in this program? How will it benefit you?
  • How do your skills match the position?
  • What makes you stand out from other applicants?
  • What are your exact career aspirations?
  • How can you and your work benefit the institution you’re applying to?
  • If you changed fields, how did you decide to apply in this direction?
  • What insight can you bring thanks to your different experiences?
  • How will this change of field help your future career?

Write down your answer to these questions in the first draft of your academic personal statement.

#4. Look at Example Statements

Don’t hesitate to read other people’s academic personal statements online. They’re a great source of inspiration and can help get rid of any remaining writer’s block.

If you’re struggling to understand how to meet the language and formatting requirements for your academic personal statement, seeing actual examples is the best way to learn.

But be careful – don’t copy any lines you read, no matter how impressive you think they are. 

Most universities run every academic personal statement through intensive plagiarism checking, and even a paraphrased sentence could lead to your application being rejected for plagiarism.

So pay more attention to the overall structure of the academic personal statements you read, rather than copying the exact wording.

#5. Structure the Contents

There should be a cohesive argument that your entire essay follows. Each sentence and paragraph should complement and build on the one that comes before it.

The structure of your personal statement should include:

An intriguing introduction to you as a candidate

The introductory paragraph should grab the admission committee’s attention and keep them engaged.

Here you should be sure to avoid cliches like saying how you’ve “always dreamt” of graduating from this university or of studying this exact program. Instead, give an example of what really influenced you to pursue this dream.

Here’s an example:

  • I’ve always loved reading and since I was a child, it’s been my dream to graduate from Oxford University and contribute to the world of literary analysis. That’s why I spent the past year volunteering at my local writers’ society and giving constructive feedback during workshops and book discussions.
  • It wasn’t until I failed my first essay assignment in secondary school that I realized the depth that lies beneath each sentence in a given text. I began to delve into the rich layers of literary texts and the intricacies of literary analysis became my passion. Although initially challenging, the depth of understanding that this field offers about human emotions, cultural contexts, and narrative structures enthralled me. I found myself questioning the narrative structures and character motivations that I had previously taken for granted, and I was eager to understand how the subtle and often overlooked elements within a text could have a profound impact on its overall interpretation. This need to fundamentally understand a given author’s work has stayed with me since and led me to pursue literary analysis as a postgraduate student.

An engaging body

The main part of your academic personal statement should detail your interests, experience, and knowledge, and how they make you suitable for the position.

This is where you should expand on your motivation and use the following tips:

  • Why this university? Provide strong reasons for your choice, related to your future career or the institution’s reputation.
  • Mention your relevant studies and experience. This includes projects, dissertations, essays, or work experience.
  • Give evidence of key skills you have, such as research, critical thinking, communication, and time management, and explain how you can contribute to the department with them.
  • Say what makes you unique as a candidate and provide an example.
  • Explain who have been the main influences who put you on this path and why they’ve influenced you.
  • Mention other relevant experiences, such as memberships in clubs related to the subject, awards you might have won, or impressive papers you’ve written.
  • Talk about your career aspirations and how the program ties into your goal of achieving them.

Depending on the guidelines of the specific university, you could also divide your academic personal statement’s body with subheadings, such as:

  • Academic background
  • Research interests
  • Methodological approaches
  • Research experience
  • Personal experience
  • Extracurricular activities 
  • Relevant skills
  • Career aspirations

A logical conclusion

Your academic personal statement needs a conclusion that ends on an enthusiastic note.

Make sure the conclusion reiterates the main points from the body of your text.

Your relevant accomplishments and desire to attend this specific program should be clear to any reader.

#6. Pay Attention to the Language

When writing the first draft of your academic personal statement, pay attention to the language and tone you’re using.

An academic personal statement is also a formal text, so your writing should reflect that. Colloquialisms aren’t appropriate, as they would take away from the well-mannered impression you want to give the admissions committee.

However, you also want your personal statement to be straightforward and avoid any complex jargon from your field of study.

For example, your opening sentence shouldn’t be overly complicated. You should communicate everything as clearly as possible, and be inclusive to those outside of your field of study since they might be on the admissions board that’s reading your academic personal statement.

Make sure that the tone throughout your text is positive and conveys your enthusiasm for the program. Your academic personal statement should show the admissions committee that you really want to be there, and why that’s beneficial to everyone involved.

#7. Proofread Your Statement

This step probably isn’t surprising to you but it’s worth paying attention to.

Your academic personal statement is a very formal document and it should be spotless. 

So, make sure it adheres to academic writing conventions . For example, contractions like “I’m” instead of “I am” are informal, and should be avoided.

Mistakes like these are very common when writing about yourself, particularly when you’re used to describing yourself in informal environments.

Carefully proofread your academic personal statement, then run it through a grammar checker like Grammarly or Quillbot, then proofread it again.

The tiniest grammar mistake or typo could make the admissions board reject your application.

Academic Personal Statement Example

Ever since my first encounter with the enchanting worlds spun by Flaubert, Balzac, and Proust, my intellectual pursuits have gravitated toward French literature. With an undergraduate degree focused on French Language and Literature, I have been fortunate to explore my passions both theoretically and empirically, embedding them within broader themes of cultural theory and comparative literature. It is with great excitement that I apply for the postgraduate research position in the French Literature program at Kent University, with the aim of contributing novel scholarly perspectives to this captivating field.

Academic Background and Research Interests

During my undergraduate studies, I delved deeply into the realms of 19th-century Realism and Naturalism. My senior thesis, which examined the dialectics of morality and social structures in Balzac's "La Comédie Humaine," was not merely an academic exercise; it served as a crucible where my theoretical understandings were rigorously tested. This research experience intensified my interest in the complex interplay between literature and societal norms, a theme I am eager to further explore in my postgraduate work.

Methodological Approaches

My academic approach is fundamentally interdisciplinary. I strongly believe that literature should not be studied in a vacuum; rather, it should be contextualized within historical, sociological, and psychological paradigms. During a semester abroad in Paris, I took courses in cultural anthropology and French history, an enriching experience that complemented my literature-focused studies. This holistic approach will enable me to contribute a multifaceted perspective to the research endeavors at Kent University.

Previous Research and Scholarly Engagements

My scholarly activities have also extended beyond the classroom. Last summer, I participated in an international conference on French Literature and Post-Colonial Theory, presenting a paper on the depictions of colonial landscapes in Dumas' adventure novels. The opportunity to engage with academics from various disciplines provided me with fresh insights and underscored the importance of collaborative research. Further, I've had the honor of having a review article published in the Sheffield Journal of Contemporary Literary Explorations, where I critiqued a groundbreaking new translation of Verne's works.

Extracurricular Contributions and Skills

In addition to my academic achievements, I have sought to enrich my department’s intellectual community. I served as the editor of our departmental journal and organized a series of seminars featuring guest speakers from the worlds of academia and publishing. My strong organizational skills, combined with proficiency in both written and spoken French and English, make me a versatile candidate capable of adding value to the French Literature program’s broader objectives.

To summarize, my deep-rooted passion for French literature, fortified by rigorous academic training and interdisciplinary methodologies, makes me an ideal candidate for the postgraduate research position in your esteemed program. The prospect of contributing to academic discourse at Kent University is an opportunity I find deeply compelling. I am especially excited about the potential for collaborative research and interdisciplinary inquiries, which aligns perfectly with my academic philosophy. I am fully committed to leveraging my skills, experiences, and enthusiasm to make a substantive scholarly contribution to the study of French Literature. Thank you for considering my application; I am keenly looking forward to the possibility of furthering my academic journey in this vibrant intellectual community.

FAQs on Academic Personal Statements

If you’re wondering anything else about academic personal statements, check out the answers to the most frequently asked questions related to them here:

#1. How do you start a personal statement for an academic job?

Applying for an academic job is different from applying for a position as a student. First, you need to establish your qualifications and enthusiasm for the role immediately.

Start by explaining your current status, for example, as a postdoctoral researcher or an experienced member of the faculty, and specify the position you are applying for. Then follow up with your research interests or personal philosophy towards teaching.

You can add a personal anecdote or compelling fact that summarizes your academic journey so far, or your passion for the field. After that, your academic personal statement can go deeper into the qualifications from your academic CV and how you’re a great fit for the position.

#2. How do I introduce myself in an academic personal statement?

The introduction of your academic personal statement is the key to grabbing the attention of the admissions committee.

Start by stating the field or subject that interests you, and why. You can share a specific personal anecdote or observation that led you to this academic pursuit and set the stage for the detailed explanation in your main body.

The goal of your introduction is to give the reader a sense of who you are, what drives you, and why you would be a valuable addition to their department.

#3. Is an academic personal statement like an essay?

Yes, an academic personal statement can be considered a type of essay.

Both essays and academic personal statements are structured forms of writing that are meant to deliver a coherent argument and are divided into an introduction, body, and conclusion. They provide supporting evidence to prove the point and maintain a logical flow to guide the reader to the final conclusion.

However, essays tend to be objective and explore a specific topic or question in depth. Academic personal statements use similar techniques but they present the candidate’s qualifications, experiences, and aspirations in a way that’s meant to persuade the admissions committee.

#4. How long is an academic personal statement?

Typically, an academic personal statement is between 500 and 1000 words long.

The exact length of the text varies depending on the university and program you’re applying to. You should always check the specific requirements for your desired program, and stick to the guidelines you find.

However, if the university you’re applying to doesn’t specify a word count, you should aim for one to two pages.

#5. What do I avoid in an academic personal statement?

Since your personal statement is a crucial part of your academic application, it’s important to avoid any common mistakes.

Make sure the content of your academic personal statement isn’t too generic. Its goal is to give insight into you as an individual, beyond what can be read in your CV . 

You should also avoid cramming too many points in your text. Your academic personal statement should follow a logical flow, and focus on the relevance of what you’re sharing about yourself and how it relates to the academic program you’re pursuing.

Key Takeaways

And that concludes our guide to writing an academic personal statement!

We hope you feel more confident when crafting your application for that academic program or faculty position you have your sights set on.

Now let’s recap what we talked about so far:

  • Academic personal statements are very different from CV personal statements. While CV personal statements are brief paragraphs at the top of the page, an academic personal statement is an in-depth text that details why you’re interested in a given position, and what makes you a good candidate.
  • The guidelines on academic personal statements vary according to the institution you’re applying to. Read the brief very carefully, and pay attention to what it says about word count and questions your personal statement should answer. Any mistakes here could result in rejection.
  • There are differences between applying for a postgraduate program and applying for a faculty position. But in both cases, you should research the exact place you want to apply to and adjust your application accordingly to match the institution’s values.
  • Always proofread your academic personal statement before sending it, even if you’re sure there are no errors.

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Examples

Personal Statement

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how to write college personal statement

A personal statement is a vital component of college and job application . It showcases an individual’s unique experiences, skills , and aspirations, providing a narrative that highlights their strengths and goals. Crafting a compelling personal statement allows applicants to express their personality and motivations, helping them stand out in a competitive field. It’s an opportunity to reflect on past achievements and outline future ambitions, making a memorable impression on selection committees.

What Is a Personal Statement?

A personal statement is a crucial part of college and job applications, allowing individuals to highlight their unique experiences, skills, and aspirations. It serves as a narrative that showcases strengths and goals, helping applicants stand out. By reflecting on past achievements and outlining future ambitions, a well-crafted personal statement makes a lasting impression on selection committees.

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Personal statement format

A personal statement is a crucial component of applications for college, graduate school, scholarships, or jobs. It is your opportunity to highlight your achievements, experiences, and goals. Here is a format for writing an effective personal statement:

  • Begin with a strong opening sentence that grabs the reader’s attention.
  • Introduce yourself and state the purpose of your personal statement.
  • Mention what you are applying for (e.g., a specific program, scholarship, job).
  • Discuss your academic achievements and experiences.
  • Mention relevant courses, projects, or research that have prepared you for the program or job.
  • Highlight any honors or awards you have received.
  • Detail your work experience, internships, or volunteer work.
  • Focus on experiences that are relevant to the program or position.
  • Emphasize any skills or knowledge you have gained.
  • Include any extracurricular activities, hobbies, or interests that demonstrate your well-rounded character.
  • Mention leadership roles, community service, or other achievements.
  • Show how these experiences have shaped you and your aspirations.
  • Clearly state your short-term and long-term goals.
  • Explain how the program or job aligns with your career aspirations.
  • Describe what you hope to achieve and how you plan to contribute to the field.
  • Summarize the key points you have made.
  • Reiterate your enthusiasm and readiness for the program or position.
  • Thank the reader for considering your application .

Example Personal Statement

Personal Statement for University Introduction : I am excited to apply for the Master’s program in Environmental Science at XYZ University. With a strong academic background in biology and a passion for environmental conservation, I am eager to contribute to cutting-edge research in sustainability and climate change mitigation. Academic Background : I graduated with honors from ABC University with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. During my undergraduate studies, I completed a research project on the impact of urbanization on local wildlife, which sparked my interest in environmental science. I have taken courses in ecology, environmental policy, and data analysis, providing me with a solid foundation for advanced study. Professional Experience : Over the past two years, I have interned at the Green Earth Organization, where I assisted in conducting field surveys and analyzing data on endangered species. This experience has honed my skills in data collection, statistical analysis, and report writing. Additionally, I volunteered with Clean Water Initiative, where I led a team to organize community clean-up events and educate the public on water conservation. Personal Achievements and Extracurricular Activities : Outside of academics and professional work, I am an avid hiker and nature photographer. I have also been a member of the university’s environmental club, where I served as president and organized several successful campus-wide sustainability events. These activities have strengthened my leadership and teamwork skills. Goals and Aspirations : My short-term goal is to gain in-depth knowledge and research experience in environmental science through the Master’s program at XYZ University. In the long term, I aspire to work as an environmental consultant, helping businesses and communities implement sustainable practices. I am particularly interested in developing innovative solutions to reduce carbon footprints and protect natural habitats. Conclusion : In conclusion, I am confident that my academic background, professional experience, and passion for environmental conservation make me a strong candidate for the Master’s program in Environmental Science at XYZ University. I am eager to contribute to your esteemed program and am grateful for your consideration. Thank you for taking the time to review my application.

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Tips for an Effective Personal Statement

When writing a personal statement, always bear in mind that you write to impress. So we have outlined for you some tips for an effective personal statement.

  • Understand Your Goal. Bear in mind what your goal is in writing a personal statement . Remember that you are not the only one who is trying to grab that position or admission, so make it a point to put your best foot forward. This is what you do when you have a goal. It keeps your steps solid and for sure you won’t lose your track.
  • Create an Outline. Like a college essay, your personal income statement should have a layout. Use the funneling technique on this one. Start from the most general points and narrow it down to the specific ones. It also helps you organize your thoughts better so your words will not jumble.
  • Be Genuine. This is not the hardest thing to do in the world. All you need to do is tell honestly what your skills and accomplishments are. A personal statement is an overview about your personality. Even if it is a written letter, an employer or a supervisor will know if you are telling the truth or not.
  • Be Specific. Some schools or business statement establishments would send a list of questions that they need you to answer and include on your personal statement. Answer those questions concretely and with substance. Do not veer away from your main point. Focus on your answer and be straightforward.
  • Maintain a Positive Tone. A personal statement is not the place for you to vent out your frustrations in life nor an opportunity to show your weaknesses and appeal for emotions. Make your words sound positive. Provide energy and liveliness when sharing about a certain lesson you learned or an obstacle in your life and how you were able to overcome it.
  • Check and Revise. Sometimes when we are writing, we often misspell things or use inappropriate words especially when we are in our deep thoughts. So before you put your letter in an envelope and put it in your mailbox, be sure to proofread your work. Check your spelling, choice of words and arrangement of thoughts.

How Important Is a Personal Statement?

University admissions hold interviews based on the applications they receive. How you write your personal vision statement will be a determining factor for you to land in an interview and consequently get into college. So if you are planning to write a personal letter of poor quality, you better think twice. Here are the reasons why you need to write a compelling personal letter.

1.  It gives you a better shot.

Whether you are aiming for a university admission or landing a job at a prominent income statement for company , an effective personal letter gives you a better shot compared to others. Remember that you are not the only participant in the race. In order for you to win, you need to give it with an undivided attention.

2.  It gets your name on the list.

Yes, it does. The truth is your personal letter is your only key to have your name on the master list. Some universities are a little picky when it comes to admitting new applicants. They do filtering to ensure that they choose the right students for the right program. Not only that. They are very selective because the applicant they choose will soon become a fruit of their own tree and they certainly don’t want it to be a bad one.

3.  It boosts your confidence.

A personal statement is always given a head of time during an application examples or admission process. This gives the school or a company an overview of who to select from the many applicants. Writing a bold and convincing personal letter could get you ahead of others. You get picked from the basket of people longing for that post. Then in the process you get called for an interview.

You know that your personal statement caught the attention of the school board or the employer and so you are confident that you are just a few steps away from landing that position you always hoped for.

A personal statement need not be a novel-long narrative of yourself. Just as long as the important words and details are there, that’s fine. However, never settle for less. Always aim for the best. Have you ever seen an advertising brochure?

It usually comes as a single sheet example in pdf , a cardboard or a photo paper maybe, folded into half or a quarter, but contains all the necessary information you want to know about a certain product. That is how your personal statement should be, brief, concise, and effective.

What should be included in a Personal Statement

A personal statement is a critical component of many applications, providing an opportunity to showcase your qualifications, experiences, and motivations. Here is a comprehensive guide on what should be included in a personal statement:

1. Introduction

  • Compelling Opening : Start with an engaging story, quote, or anecdote to capture the reader’s attention.
  • Brief Overview : Introduce yourself and state your purpose for writing the personal statement. Mention the program or position you are applying for.

2. Academic Background

  • Educational Qualifications : Detail your academic achievements, including your degree(s), GPA, and any honors or awards.
  • Relevant Coursework : Highlight specific courses that are pertinent to the program or role.
  • Research Projects or Theses : Discuss any significant research projects, theses, or academic papers, emphasizing their relevance to your field.

3. Professional Experience

  • Internships and Jobs : Describe your professional experiences, focusing on internships, jobs, or volunteer work that relate to your application.
  • Responsibilities and Achievements : Outline your roles, responsibilities, and key accomplishments in these positions.
  • Skills Gained : Highlight the skills and knowledge you acquired, and how they prepared you for the role or program.

4. Personal Qualities and Skills

  • Key Attributes : Mention personal qualities that make you a strong candidate, such as dedication, motivation, and resilience.
  • Technical and Soft Skills : List relevant technical skills (e.g., programming languages, lab techniques) and soft skills (e.g., leadership, communication).

5. Motivations

  • Passion for the Field : Explain why you are passionate about the field or profession. Share any personal experiences or events that sparked your interest.
  • Career Aspirations : Discuss your long-term career goals and how the program or role fits into your career plan.

6. Future Goals

  • Short-term Objectives : Describe what you hope to achieve in the immediate future, such as completing a degree or gaining specific experience.
  • Long-term Vision : Outline your long-term professional aspirations and how the program or role will help you achieve them.

7. Conclusion

  • Recap Main Points : Summarize the key points of your statement, reinforcing your enthusiasm and readiness for the opportunity.
  • Thank You : Express gratitude for considering your application and indicate your eagerness to discuss your application further.

How to Write a Personal Statement.

How to Write a Personal Statement.

Writing a personal statement can be a challenging task, but it’s an essential part of many applications. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you craft a compelling and effective personal statement:

Step 1: Understand the Purpose

  • Purpose : A personal statement is a narrative that highlights your background, achievements, motivations, and goals. It aims to show why you are a suitable candidate for the program or position you are applying for.
  • Audience : Consider who will be reading your statement and what they are looking for in a candidate. Tailor your content to meet their expectations.

Step 2: Brainstorm and Outline

  • Self-Reflection : Think about your experiences, achievements, and goals. Identify key themes and stories that showcase your strengths and motivations.
  • Outline : Create an outline to organize your thoughts. A typical personal statement includes an introduction, academic background, professional experience, personal qualities, motivations, future goals, and a conclusion.

Step 3: Write the Introduction

  • Hook : Start with a compelling opening that grabs the reader’s attention. This could be a personal anecdote, a quote, or a unique experience related to your field.
  • Overview : Briefly introduce yourself and state the purpose of your statement. Mention the program or position you are applying for.

Step 4: Discuss Your Academic Background

  • Education : Detail your academic achievements, including your degree(s), GPA, and any honors or awards.
  • Research Projects : Mention any significant research projects, theses, or academic papers, emphasizing their relevance to your field.

Step 5: Describe Your Professional Experience

Step 6: highlight personal qualities and skills, step 7: explain your motivations, step 8: outline your future goals, step 9: conclude your statement, step 10: revise and edit.

  • Proofread : Carefully proofread your statement for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
  • Feedback : Seek feedback from mentors, professors, or colleagues to improve the clarity and impact of your statement.
  • Polish : Make necessary revisions to ensure your statement is concise, coherent, and compelling.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a written description of your achievements, skills, interests, and goals, typically used for university or job applications.

How long should a personal statement be?

Generally, a personal statement should be 500-800 words, but always check the specific guidelines of the application.

What should be included in a personal statement?

Include your introduction, academic background, professional experience, personal qualities, motivations, future goals, and conclusion.

How should I start my personal statement?

Start with a compelling hook, such as an anecdote, quote, or personal experience, to grab the reader’s attention.

How personal should my personal statement be?

Be personal enough to reflect your unique experiences and motivations but maintain a professional tone throughout.

Can I use the same personal statement for different applications?

Tailor each personal statement to the specific program or job to address their unique requirements and expectations.

Should I mention weaknesses in my personal statement?

If relevant, briefly mention weaknesses, but focus on how you have addressed and overcome them.

How do I make my personal statement stand out?

Highlight unique experiences, demonstrate passion for the field, and provide specific examples of your achievements and skills.

Is it okay to use quotes in a personal statement?

Yes, but use them sparingly and ensure they are relevant to your narrative and add value to your statement.

How do I conclude my personal statement?

Summarize your key points, reiterate your enthusiasm for the opportunity, and thank the reader for considering your application.

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How to Write a Personal Statement for Study Abroad

Farryl Last

Farryl Last is a poet and international educator from New York. She studied abroad in Paris and B...

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A spring semester in China . A summer in South Africa . A year abroad in Italy . All these journeys start with one first step:

Learning how to write a personal statement for study abroad. That’s right, before you snag your flights or put together your packing list , you’ll have to apply to study abroad.

A study abroad personal statement is a common component of any abroad program or scholarship application. These brief essays touch on an applicant’s reasons for studying abroad and the experiences and qualities that make them a good fit.

Done right, a study abroad personal statement can set your application apart in the best possible way. You may not need to write one for every application, but it’s never a bad idea to organize your thoughts around how studying abroad will benefit your academic goals and plans for the future as you prepare to go abroad .

Do I need to write a study abroad personal statement?

person sitting and writing

Knowing how to write a study abroad personal statement is an incredible asset to have!

Before we dive into how to write a study abroad personal statement, you’re probably wondering: “Is this something I really need to do?” Chances are, if you’re applying to study abroad, you’re going to need to whip up a statement as part of your application. That’s especially true if you’re applying for study abroad scholarships .

Your study abroad personal statement lets you show off why you’re the perfect person for a particular program—and why that program will be better off with you in it. You’ll talk up your skills, you’ll show the admissions committee how studying abroad will benefit you academically and in your future career , and you’ll take the first steps on your path to classes in Australia , or Ghana , or Ireland , or whichever study abroad destination has you polishing your writing skills.

How long should my study abroad personal statement be?

A typical study abroad personal statement will come out to about one to two double-spaced pages or around 250 to 500 words. The key here? Read your application instructions thoroughly.

Every program you’re applying to will give you instructions about how to write a study abroad personal statement, including their recommended word count or page limits, questions you should answer in your text, and more. Make sure you stick to each application’s requirements and keep your answers clear and concise.

Along with demonstrating your strengths and goals, a study abroad personal statement can show the admissions committee that you follow directions and pay attention to details, traits that will help you succeed while you’re studying abroad.

Get matched with study abroad programs right now

7 tips for writing your personal statement for study abroad.

You’ve decided where you’re going to study abroad . You know how long you want to spend abroad , and you’ve done your research and found a great study abroad program . Now, it’s time to apply. Here’s how to write a personal statement for study abroad that wows:

1. Give yourself time to write

person filling out desk calendar

Writing takes time—make sure to give it the effort it deserves.

Any compelling piece of writing requires a plan and some time, so make note of application deadlines and a lot a timeline that makes sense for you. Neglecting this part of the program application will only lead to rushing the process and leaving more room for error.

Depending on your writing style, you might first want to organize your thoughts in an outline or write a rough draft to let your ideas flow before you polish the statement. As with papers for class and other writing pieces, there’s no one right way, but giving yourself enough time will let your best ideas come to the surface.

2. Structure your statement and follow instructions

Remember, you want to check for specific instructions and requirements given for how to write a study abroad personal statement in the program or scholarship application you’re completing.

If the application asks you to answer any questions or prompts in your statement, make sure you address those. Likewise, if the application has a word count or page limits for the statement, be sure you’re hitting those marks.

Once you know the instructions and length requirements it’s time to structure. Start with a short, one-paragraph introduction to grab your readers’ attention, then write a few paragraphs detailing your highlights—anything from achievements to personal passions (as long as it’s relevant info). Wrap things up with a strong concluding paragraph.

3. Know why you want to study abroad

person sitting on a surfboard in open water

Let your “why” help you write your personal statement!

Everyone has different reasons for studying abroad, from learning a language to taking classes for your major you can’t find at home to getting up close and personal with a place you’ve always dreamed of visiting. Figuring out why you want to study abroad will help you organize your thoughts and ideas as you write. Pro-tip: It’s also the perfect start to your statement!

Whether you want to immerse yourself in Spanish abroad , take classes for your history major where the events you’re studying happened , see the dynamics of an international market play out as a business student , or get inspiration for your creative writing through the landscapes, foods, and conversations in a new place, your why will power your study abroad personal statement. Be yourself and give the folks reading your application a glimpse into you.

4. Talk up how studying abroad will boost your future

Once you have the reasons you want to study abroad in your chosen program in mind, you can write about how studying abroad will help you figure out your future . That goes for your academic goals and your hoped-for career.

Say you’re interested in getting a new perspective on your sustainable development major. Your study abroad personal statement can discuss why studying abroad in Sweden or Costa Rica is the right move because of the classes you can take abroad and the lived experience you’ll gain in a place that prioritizes sustainability.

By showing how the passions and places you want to explore position you to succeed in the classroom and beyond, you’re making a great case for getting accepted.

5. Focus on strengths and relevant experiences

person tossing their papers into the air

Sharing achievements and experiences make for a standout statement.

Along with your passions, your study abroad personal statement should cover your strengths and achievements. Show how your past experiences have informed your interest in studying abroad and who you are. Let the people reading your application know what you’ll bring to the program through concrete examples.

You might include classes you’ve taken that prepare you for your time abroad, things you’ve done outside of the classroom (looking at you, volunteer and internship experiences), languages you’ve studied —anything that paints the picture of the full you.

6. Connect your goals to the program

You have so many ways to study abroad , so it’s important to show you know why a specific program is the right one for you. You’ve talked about your passions and how studying abroad will help you incorporate those passions into your plans for the future. Now, pull it all together.

As someone studying Japanese , you know there’s nothing quite like the immersion you’ll get taking classes and talking to the locals in Japan with unique places such as depachika and shrines as your backdrop. Or maybe you’re interested in pursuing a career in archeology and want to study close to ancient wonders in Greece or Peru . Whatever your goals are, articulating how they align with your program of choice will set you apart as a candidate.

7. Get someone to read your statement—and don’t forget to proofread

two people looking at a document editing

Make sure you’ve proofread your personal statement before submitting it!

You’ve drafted an impressive statement outlining why you want to go abroad and how your goals line up with the program you’ve chosen. But don’t hit send on your application just yet.

Have a trusted person read it through to double-check that no mistakes are present. Take some time to proofread your writing, too. While a mistake here or there won’t take you out of contention for a spot in the program, you want to present your best work.

Check all of the details again to make sure everything makes sense for each application. Those mistakes are easier to make than you might think!

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Your study abroad personal statement will make your application shine.

Look at you, ready to submit the statement that’ll get you to your dream destination. A great personal statement goes beyond simply crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s . It’s an important step to studying abroad and your ticket to demonstrating what you already know: that you’re the perfect candidate to study abroad.

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6 ways to encourage political discussion on college campuses

how to write college personal statement

Associate professor of education, University of Virginia

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Rachel Wahl has received funding from the Spencer Foundation and the National Academy of Education

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With deep divisions on college campuses – most recently over the conflict in the Gaza Strip and Israel – many observers fear that universities are not places where students can discuss divisive issues with people who disagree with them. In my research and teaching, I have seen that students in fact want to have difficult conversations across divides, but they need support from faculty and other facilitators in order for these discussions to go well.

Since early 2017, I have been observing events on college campuses in which students are brought together with peers with whom they disagree to talk about politics. In these sessions, facilitators provide students with guiding questions that help them to understand their peers’ political views.

I conducted follow-up interviews with students a few weeks afterward and, when possible, three years later.

My aim is to understand what happens in these conversations. I want to know: Who learns what from whom? Who feels satisfied or frustrated, and why? And what does this all portend for America’s democracy?

The conversations I observed have taught me that six practices help to support a better experience for all students.

1. Set norms and expectations

When people talk about setting norms for conversation, they usually assume it is an effort to mandate speech rules. But norm-setting accomplishes something better than rule-following: It allows students to become sensitive to their own and others’ hopes and fears for the conversation.

In my experience, opening the session with questions such as “What do you most hope will happen in this conversation?” “What worries you most about the conversation?” “What are you willing to give to it?” and “What do you hope to get from it?” can show students that they already share more than they anticipate.

Moreover, this discussion leads naturally into the question of “How can we interact in a way that is most likely to realize our aims?” Students typically volunteer their own guidelines, such as assuming good faith, objecting to a person’s idea rather than attacking the person, honestly conveying when and why they feel hurt, and listening generously.

2. Allow students to tell their personal stories

Beginning with students’ personal stories lowers the barriers to entry, so that students who are not experts on politics can contribute. It allows students to feel heard about their direct experience. And it allows for what I have found to be the most profound outcome of dialogue: the shifts in how students feel about each other.

For example, consider the “ Can We Talk ” campus dialogue series, which brings together ideologically diverse students for two-hour sessions in which facilitators provide a series of questions for students to ask each other. The sessions began with questions such as, “How were politics discussed in the home in which you were raised?” and “What is your earliest political memory?” before moving on to questions about students’ substantive views on relevant issues.

The focus of these sessions, which I observed in the 2017-2018 academic year at colleges throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is on cultivating students’ understanding of each other’s views and how they came to be.

A college instructor leads a discussion in a lecture hall.

If the dialogue is intended to focus on a specific issue, such as gun control , abortion or the war in Israel and Gaza , questions can be geared accordingly, such as “When did you first learn about this issue?” “How did it affect you at the time?” or “What about this issue draws you to this conversation?”

3. Encourage curiosity

Students are often afraid that they will end up validating views they oppose unless they try to discredit those views. But in follow-up interviews I conducted three years after their participation in a dialogue session, I found that those students who did eventually change their political views were prompted to do so through sincere and nonthreatening questions. “I remember one girl asked me, ‘If you say you believe this, then why did you vote like that?’ I’ve been asking myself that question ever since,” admitted one student, whose politics changed considerably in the years between our first and second interviews. It mattered most that she felt questioned, not attacked.

Questions can be encouraged throughout a conversation by reserving specific time for them in each round, as well as through directions such as “Think of one question you have always wanted to ask someone who thinks differently than you about this issue. Ask it now.”

4. Dig into disagreement

One risk of emphasizing personal experience at the start is that students hesitate to dig into their disagreements. They want to be supportive, and it’s hard to argue with personal experience. In my research, though, I found that students ended up with the deepest respect for each other when they gained understanding of the nature of their disagreements.

Clarifying what is at stake in their differences allowed students to see that their opposition was not caused by ignorance, malice or madness on the other side, but legitimate contrasts in views of what is good and possible.

After students have shared their views on issues and asked each other curiosity-oriented questions, they can be directed to ask each other questions such as “What is at the root of our disagreement?” and “What really matters to me, and to you, and is it the same thing? To the extent that it is not, why not?”

Students -- some who are sitting on desks while others are sitting at desks -- talk and review notes.

5. Collaborate on next steps

Students tend to feel most satisfied when they can work toward a more concrete aim. Most ambitiously, this can involve real cooperative projects.

For example, the Sorenson Institute , a political leadership institute at the University of Virginia, convenes dialogues that conclude with students putting together a proposal for the Virginia state Legislature on a specific topic such as gun control.

Even one-off conversations can conclude with what students might do differently on social media, on their campuses and in their families. When I followed up with them, I learned that many students had enacted these changes and found that people changed their own behavior in response. One student found that her uncle started reading and thinking about the articles she would send him. Another student discovered that peers in her political science class who had been dismissive of her in the past became respectful when she expressed her views and seemed to attend to them more sincerely.

Some students will flourish in these conversations, while others will struggle. In my research, I found that students whose rights are threatened by policy proposals of the other side understandably experience the most difficulty. However, these same students’ experiences can be improved by debriefing with a trusted mentor afterward.

For example, one student who identifies as queer felt shaken after a discussion with peers who opposed her marriage rights. But meeting with a professor afterward helped her to feel empowered by the conversation, equipped with new knowledge to help her fight for a more just society.

Listening to protest

Dialogue can deepen divides when it is presented as the only appropriate form of political communication, thereby silencing people who do not participate in these conversations. Students should be encouraged to also listen to messages conveyed through other means. For example, they can study protest movements – including ongoing, contemporary movements – and read the texts posted by activists who organize them.

It is important to convey to students that dialogue alone cannot solve all of what ails contemporary democracy. Protest, boycott and other forms of collective action matter, too.

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  • May 30, 2024
  • 11th Grade , 12th Grade , College Admissions , Common App

How To Answer Common App Essay Prompts: 2024-25

Trying to figure out if the Common App essay prompts are any different this year? Well, we’re here to answer that. We’re going to give you, a college student-to-be, as much guidance on how to approach the Common App essay prompts as possible. Learn what the prompts are, which are most popular, and how to answer them effectively.

Complimentary Initial Consultation

Fill out this form to book your complimentary initial consultation., are the 2024-25 common app essay prompts different from last year.

Student thinking about common app essay prompts

These open-ended prompts are designed with flexibility in mind, inviting students to explore a wide array of topics and themes. Whether you wish to recount a pivotal moment that shaped your worldview, delve into an intellectual passion that ignites your curiosity, or provide a glimpse into your background and how it has influenced your identity, there is a prompt ready to serve as the ideal canvas for your unique narrative.

The Common App essay prompts are here and there are no surprises this year! All seven prompts remain unchanged, providing students with a diverse range of options to share their stories, perspectives, and experiences that truly capture who they are as individuals.

What are the Common App essay prompts for 2024-25?

The Common App college essay plays a vital role in your application process to get into the elite and Ivy League colleges . As stated before, there are no new prompts this year. The Common App essay prompts are as follows:

  • 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.

Which Common App prompts are the most popular?

The Common Application essay prompts that were most popular according to Common App analytics are prompt 7: the choose your own topic, prompt 5: Explain an accomplishment, and coming in third prompt 2: a setback or failure.

While these prompts may resonate widely due to their broad, relatable nature, admission officers encourage students to approach them with originality and authenticity. Your personal statement is a prime opportunity to showcase your unique voice and perspective. It’s your chance to stand out in a sea of applications .

Should you choose the most popular prompts?

Instead of simply selecting the most popular Common App prompts, the key is to find one that genuinely resonates with your experiences and allows you to showcase your authentic voice. Don’t let popularity alone dictate your choice. Carefully consider each prompt, and gravitate towards the one that enables you to craft a compelling personal statement that captures the essence of who you are. Prioritize prompts that provide an ideal canvas for your unique narrative to shine.

High school student writing common app essays

Breaking Down the 2024-25 Common App Essay Prompts

Now we’re going to go through the college application essay prompts and answer Common App essay questions you may have. Our goal is to give you the additional information that you are looking for.

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.

With this prompt, you have the opportunity to write about one of your favorite extracurricular or academic passions. It allows you to interweave a narrative that displays personal growth in that area. An essay that displays your personality and unique interest is sure to grab the attention of admissions officers.

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?

This prompt lends itself to consideration of what facets of your personality allow you to overcome adversity. While it’s okay to choose a relatively mundane “failure” such as not winning an award, another (perhaps more powerful) tactic is to write about a foundational failure and assess its impact on your development thereafter.

Prompt 3: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Don’t be deterred by the seeming gravity of this prompt. While questioning deeply-rooted societal norms might seem like the expectation, admissions officers are equally interested in how you navigate challenging beliefs or ideas in your daily life. Highlight an experience where you respectfully challenged assumptions, even on a smaller scale. Perhaps you embraced an unconventional interest despite social pressures, or formed an unexpected connection that defied norms. The key is illustrating your ability to think critically, approach ideas with an open yet discerning mindset, and drive meaningful growth. 

Prompt 4: 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?

While this prompt may seem to be asking a simple question, your answer has the potential to provide deep insights into who you are to the admissions committee. Explaining what you are grateful for can show them your culture, your community, your philosophical outlook on the world, and what makes you agitated.

Prompt 5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

This prompt is expansive in that you can choose any accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked personal growth or new understanding. A fairly simple prompt that you have the chance to make your own and impress the college admissions officers with.

Prompt 6: 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?

If you want to expand and deepen a seemingly small or simple idea, topic, or concept, this is a great prompt to choose. For example, you could talk about trees. Maybe you grew up in the country or would always go to the park. This can translate to a deeper meaning, your love for nature grows and you end up wanting to be an environmental biologist.

Prompt 7: 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.

Coming in as one of the most popular prompts for a reason, this prompt allows you to write anything you want to express, even if it doesn’t align directly with one of the other prompts. While this prompt is very open-ended, it doesn’t mean you can adapt any essay you’ve written and think it will suffice. Make sure to do some brainstorming and incorporate an out-of-the-box essay that will leave an impact on the admissions committee.

How many Common App essays are required?

When you use the Common App , you only have to write one essay based on the prompts above and it will qualify for all the colleges that are associated with the app. This will be most of the colleges that you apply to, but double-check before applying!

What makes a great Common App essay?

The best way to make your essay great is to ensure that you are making a deep personal connection. Think about the people who will be reading your essay; These college admission officers are reading hundreds of essays so make sure yours is the one that stands out. If they feel connected to your essay, you’ll have a great chance of getting accepted.

Key takeaways about answering the Common App questions

Now that you know all about the Common App essay prompts, you can conduct proper research to make yours the best one yet. Remember to stay personal and original within your writing and follow our essay tips to help you out.

Our college admissions experts are always here to guide you through writing your Common App essays. Through our comprehensive curriculum, individualized coaching, and writing specialists, you are set for success as soon as you connect with us.

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Our college admissions experts are here to guide you from where you are to where you should be. Through our comprehensive curriculum, individualized coaching, and online workshops, you are set for success as soon as you connect with us.

During our initial consultation, we will: 

  • Assess your student’s applicant profile and higher education goals 
  • Provide detailed information about our services and programming
  • Share tips on how to navigate the U.S. college admissions process 

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  1. Writing a Strong Personal Statement for College: Tips and Ideas

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  2. How to Write a Personal Statement (Tips + Essay Examples)

    how to write college personal statement

  3. How To Write a Personal Statement for College [Pro Tips]

    how to write college personal statement

  4. How to Write Your College Personal Statement

    how to write college personal statement

  5. How to Write a Personal Statement For University in Canada

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  6. Personal Statement Essay Format

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  1. HOW TO WRITE PERSONAL STATEMENT: UNIVERSITY ADMISSION GUIDE

  2. Write an Incredible Personal Statement: 3 Steps with Examples

  3. How to Write a Personal Statement for Graduate School Scribbr 🎓

  4. Masterclass: Improve your Personal Statement in 30 minutes, by correcting these Errors

  5. How to write a Personal Statement?

  6. How to Write Personal Statement Essays for University Applications

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Personal Statement

    Insert a quote from a well-known person. Challenge the reader with a common misconception. Use an anecdote, which is a short story that can be true or imaginary. Credibility is crucial when writing a personal statement as part of your college application process. If you choose a statistic, quote, or misconception for your hook, make sure it ...

  2. How to Write an Amazing Personal Statement (Includes Examples!)

    5. Use an authentic voice. Your personal statement reflects who you are, so you should use a tone that represents you. That means you shouldn't try to sound like someone else, and you shouldn't use fancy words just to show off. This isn't an academic paper, so you don't have to adopt a super formal tone.

  3. How to Write a Personal Statement (Tips + Essay Examples)

    In a great personal statement, we should be able to get a sense of what fulfills, motivates, or excites the author. These can be things like humor, beauty, community, and autonomy, just to name a few. So when you read back through your essay, you should be able to detect at least 4-5 different values throughout.

  4. Personal Statement Tips for College and University Applications

    How to Write a personal statement A Comprehensive Video Course for Students. A seven-part online course designed to gives students and counselors everything they need to figure out (or help someone else figure out) how to write a personal statement for the Common App. Watch the Q&A sessions after each session where I answer important questions about the personal statement-writing process and ...

  5. How to Write Your Personal Statement

    Strategy 1: Open with a concrete scene. An effective way to catch the reader's attention is to set up a scene that illustrates something about your character and interests. If you're stuck, try thinking about: A personal experience that changed your perspective. A story from your family's history.

  6. How to Write a Personal Statement (with Tips and Examples)

    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.

  7. How to Write a Personal Statement That Wows Colleges

    2. Show, don't tell. One of the biggest mistakes students make is to simply state everything that happened, instead of actually bringing the reader to the moment it happened, and telling a story. It's boring to read: "I was overjoyed and felt empowered when I finished my first half marathon.".

  8. 12 Outstanding Personal Statement Examples

    If you're applying to college, you'll most likely need to write a personal statement as part of your college application. (And please note that the personal statement examples below are for undergraduate applications—if you're trying to find grad school statement of purpose examples, please head to that link.). But before diving into analyzing some great personal statement examples, it ...

  9. How to Write a Personal Statement for College (15+ Examples)

    Personal Statement Example. This personal statement describes a candidate's experience navigating the jungle and how it ignited a new passion: " Immersed in the core of the [NAME] jungle, I was set to embark on my first plant medicine journey. At age 14, I was depressed and anxiety scheduled my days.

  10. How to Write a Personal Statement

    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."

  11. College Personal Statement Examples and Writing Tips

    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.

  12. How to Start a Personal Statement

    In this section, we'll look at how to write a personal statement for college and identify college essay tips with the help of sample essays. Sample Personal Essays 10 Exceptional Common App Essay Examples. In this article, we review ten essays that provide ideas for how to start a personal statement. Whether writing about books or gymnastics ...

  13. How To Write a College Admissions Personal Statement

    Experiment with structure and metaphors. It has the possibility of making your essay memorable and unique. The last thing you want is for an admissions officer to be unable to distinguish your essay from the other 100 essays that they have read. Be vulnerable. Tell a story that is deeply personal to you.

  14. What Is a Personal Statement? Everything You Need to Know About the

    Personal statement —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 essay —basically the same as a personal statement (I'll be using the terms ...

  15. What Is a College Personal Statement?

    While other aspects of your application offer insight into your academic skills, the personal statement shows colleges your personality. Sometimes, the personal statement is used interchangeably with Common or Coalition Application essay, which is usually written based on an assigned topic or topic of your choice about a specific issue.

  16. How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples

    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.

  17. How to Write a College Personal Statement

    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.

  18. Academic Personal Statement Guide + Examples for 2024

    Academic Vs CV Personal Statement 7 Steps to Write an Academic Personal Statement #1. Read the Brief (Carefully!) #2. Research the Program #3. Plan Your Statement #4. Look at Example Statements #5. Structure the Contents #6. Pay Attention to the Language #7.

  19. Personal Statement Format + Examples

    We think there are two structural approaches that can work for anyone writing a personal statement for college admissions: Montage Structure—a series of experiences and insights that are connected thematically (so, for example, 5 pairs of socks that connect to 5 different sides of who you are). and.

  20. How To Write a Good Personal Statement (With Examples)

    Include information that describes more about you than the details in your transcript. 5. Identify your plans for the future. Part of your personal statement can include future goals and ambitions. Explain what can happen if you gain acceptance to the university of your choice or you receive the job you want.

  21. How to write an excellent personal statement in 10 steps

    Use your closing couple of lines to summarise the most important points in your statement. 9. Check your writing thoroughly and get someone else to check it, too. 10. Give your brain a rest by forgetting about your personal statement for a while before going back to review it one last time with fresh eyes.

  22. How to start a personal statement: The attention grabber

    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 ...

  23. Personal Statement

    Step 3: Write the Introduction. Hook: Start with a compelling opening that grabs the reader's attention. This could be a personal anecdote, a quote, or a unique experience related to your field. Overview: Briefly introduce yourself and state the purpose of your statement.

  24. How to Write a Personal Statement for Study Abroad

    Here's how to write a personal statement for study abroad that wows: 1. Give yourself time to write. Writing takes time—make sure to give it the effort it deserves. Any compelling piece of writing requires a plan and some time, so make note of application deadlines and a lot a timeline that makes sense for you.

  25. How To Write Your Undergraduate Personal Statement

    Just start by showing your enthusiasm for the subject, showcasing your knowledge and understanding, and sharing your ambitions of what you want to achieve. Avoid cliches! Remember, this opening part is simply about introducing yourself, so let the admissions tutor reading your personal statement get to know you. Keep it relevant and simple.

  26. 6 ways to encourage political discussion on college campuses

    Allowing students to tell their personal stories can enrich the discussion. Morsa Images via Getty Images. Students gain a better appreciation for opposing views when they probe what matters to ...

  27. How To Answer Common App Essay Prompts: 2024-25

    The Common Application essay prompts that were most popular according to Common App analytics are prompt 7: the choose your own topic, prompt 5: Explain an accomplishment, and coming in third prompt 2: a setback or failure. While these prompts may resonate widely due to their broad, relatable nature, admission officers encourage students to ...