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9 Tips for Writing a Great Personal Statement

July 6, 2016

You only get one chance to impress the admissions office.  After all, the college of your choice will be inundated by countless applicants who have an academic and extracurricular background similar to your own.  Hence, it’s important that something about you stands out from the crowd of eager potential freshman. That something should be your personal statement.  

Writing a great personal statement is a challenge, but when done effectively, it can be the difference between a no and a yes from the college of your choice.  So read on below for a few tips regarding how to make your personal statement stand out among the rest.

1-Make it personal

It’s called a personal statement for a reason.  They want to know what about you makes you the ideal candidate for a seat in their freshman class.  This is the moment to let your personality shine and to really allow the admission officer to get to know you as a person.  Don’t be modest or afraid to talk about your accomplishments.  Your personal statement is all about what YOU have to offer the university of your choice that no other student does.

2-Be authentic

They want to know the real you.  Don’t invent a story. Make sure your personal statement is genuine. Even if you feel your life might not be the most interesting, don’t fabricate a story to sound more appealing.  The admissions office wants to know who you are.  If you’re a gamer, be a gamer.  If you’re a jock, be a jock.  They need to know who you are as an individual and the only way they can do that is if you show them.

3-Include details

When you write your personal statement, you want the reader to be enthralled by it.  You want them to want more.  Details are key here.  Give the reader something to hold on to so that they don’t forget you.

4-Feedback from family and friends

Have your family and friends read your personal statement. Ask them to tell you if what you wrote truly reflects who you really are.  They know you the best; hence, their input is invaluable.  Not to mention, sometimes an extra pair of eyes on your work can catch errors, typos or any parts of your statement that might be awkward or unclear. 

5-Hook them from the beginning

Your opening sentence or even your opening paragraph should hook the reader and convince them to read more.  Remember that you’re being judged against hundreds, if not thousands, of other applicants.  You want the reader to be engaged from the beginning of your personal statement so that ultimately your application ends up in the yes pile.

6-Being imperfect is okay


It’s okay to reveal that you’re less than perfect in your personal statement.  It makes you more relatable and helps the reader to connect with you on an emotional level.  The person who is reading your essay isn’t expecting for you to be perfect; the essay reader is expecting to learn more about you on a deeper level. Hence, a personal statement that shows you’re human with flaws like any other would be a welcomed change from the hundreds of essays they’ll receive where the applicant does the absolute opposite.  The readers want to see stories of perseverance and growth.  Those two qualities do not come from perfection.

7-Incorporate elements that make a great story

It’s important to bring the reader into your world, so incorporate elements of a good story into your statement.  Think about your favorite books and what makes you read them again and again.  Maybe it’s the storytelling, maybe it’s the plot.  Make sure your personal statement reads like a story someone would enjoy reading again.

8-Choose a subject that you’re passionate about 

When in doubt, you can rely on taking something you’re passionate about and incorporating that into your personal statement.  (Just be sure that it isn’t something controversial.)  You might be tempted to write about something that you think the admission officer wants to hear, but that’s the easiest way to be forgotten.  Write about your passion, whether it’s algorithms or 18th century poetry.  

9- Make sure you actually answer the question

Don’t lose sight of the question as you write your personal statement.  Re-read your personal statement several times to confirm that you’ve thoroughly covered all aspects of the question that was asked of you.

Try to incorporate all the tips above to write not only a great personal statement, but a memorable one.


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