How to Write a Personal Statement: a Guide for Students
Personal essays can be written dramatically, but in many cases the schools to which you are applying want a recount of your personal experiences, and who you are as a person. The essay should not merely be a recount of your grades or organizations to which you belonged, because all of that information is contained in your transcripts. Instead, it should be information that is unique to you and your character, information or stories that explain to the reader who you are as a person and what contributions you would make to the school. Review boards want to ensure that the people they let in to their schools are a good fit socially as well as academically.
When you write the personal essay, you want to remember the following:
- You are the subject matter. You are the core of the paper.
- You should spend at least one week brainstorming for the paper. Do not underestimate the importance of proper planning. Make sure you have enough time to brainstorm your major accomplishments and why you consider them an accomplishment. For example: opening up and finally telling your step father that you love him may have been a personal accomplishment for you, one that you consider an important accomplishment, because it demonstrated that you broke through your communicative wall and were finally able to express feelings. This might enable you to better express yourself in writing, and to appreciate emotions on a deeper level. If you want to major in community relations, literature, theater, etc… this can be an important aspect of your personal life.
Remember not to limit your accomplishments to formally recognized ones. If a life changing event or memorable road trip happened to you, explain why that contributes to your character or what you can bring to the university to which you are applying.
- Write about skills, qualities, or attributes you have which distinguish you from all of the other applicants.
Brainstorm why you consider these things a positive attribute.
- Take some time to reflect upon your favorite work of art, book, or movie, and how that has influenced your life or why that is your favorite.
- Consider something for which you worked hard yet failed to achieve. Reflect on how you responded to that failure.
- Explain what you would love to do most with your life and what life events have helped you figure out what you love.