How to Write a Personal Statement for a College Application: The Essentials

  • - Not a Transcript
  • Your personal statement, written to accompany your college application, is your opportunity to share information about yourself that is not on your transcript. This is the time to wow the admissions board, and share with them how well-rounded of an individual you may be. Your transcript already lists your grades, achievements and other academic accomplishments—but it does not share who you are. What share you really are, as a person and a student, is your unique perspective.

  • - Unique Perspective
  • As we said, your personal statement is not a place to repeat the content of your transcript. You have already provided this information on the form portion of your college application, so you do not want to waste the personal statement on redundancy. Take this opportunity to share a unique aspect about yourself. Some ideas are: share a story about a hard decision made, explain how you learned right from wrong, or any other vital life lesson. Revealing a life moment and a learning moment, like one of these, is a great way to show whom you really are. These lessons will allow the admissions board to not only see the intelligence you have academically, but also the understanding you have of real world occurrences. Your emotional understanding and real life common sense can tell an admissions board whether you would sink or swim on their campus. You want to be sure they believe you will not only swim, but also thrive.

  • - Just Write
  • Now that you have settled on a unique perspective to share with the admissions board, it is time to start writing. The key to writing a personal statement is just to begin writing. You may have ideas that come to mind, and you should just get them out on paper. Whether you are having difficulty getting started or having trouble staying on point, just start writing. You may come up with some gems of brilliance or leading ideas to utilize in the paper when you simply write what is on your mind. Editing will polish your paper, so there is no harm in writing down whatever you can.

  • - Always Edit
  • After arranging a personal statement, it is time to edit. Editing your first draft will be the process of keeping only the best of your writing, eliminating the unnecessary, and elaborating where necessary. You will repeat the editing process until you feel the paper is the best version possible. Getting outside opinions from peers, teachers, advisors, and others can be a great way to be sure you are complete.