What Should I Write About in My Personal Statement?

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

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Even the most esteemed names in the literature encounter writer’s block once in a while. However, the personal statement college admissions essay is not the time for students to run out of ideas or settle for a sub-par topic.

Personal statements are an important part of the college admissions process because they allow students to show another side of themselves and speak directly to the admissions officers who are reviewing their applications. Keep reading to learn more about what you can do to make your personal statement stand out, and tune into our Just Admit It! podcast episode for even more insights on the topic.

Expect to Do Some Legwork

While some students may approach personal statements with a topic already in mind, the majority of applicants won’t have a set idea in place. Instead of choosing something quickly, give yourself some time to explore different topic ideas and warm up to writing your first draft. It may be helpful to write a few paragraphs on multiple subjects that you’re considering so you can get an idea of what feels right.

Don’t Be Afraid to Think Outside the Box

If you’re an avid athlete or an aspiring artist, you may feel like your passions are your identity. While it’s certainly beneficial to embrace and highlight your extracurricular activities, you might want to consider writing your personal statement about something else. Your application is an opportunity to present admissions officers with a full picture of yourself that demonstrates exactly what kind of impact you will make on campus. If you reiterate an ambition that is already articulated somewhere else in your application, you’re missing out on a chance to reveal more about your personality and what sets you apart.

Take Advantage of the Prompts

The Common App has six unique prompts designed to help students tell their stories in an organized, coherent way. Although a “choose your own idea” option was recently added to the Common App, it can often be challenging to write a thoughtful essay without the structure provided by a more specific prompt. Consequently, it may be advantageous to select one of the questions posed by the Common App, but there’s no need to stress about picking the best prompt. Since there’s no “golden ticket” prompt that admissions officers are looking for, focus on choosing the topic that inspires you most.

Authenticity is a Must

Your personal statement should sound like you. Some students may think that they need to write in a formal voice or lean on complex vocabulary, but the most impactful personal statements are often those where the student’s own voice shines through. To make sure that your essay reflects this, take some time to read your personal statement aloud. Ask yourself if it reflects how you would speak to a friend or teacher, and make sure the words you choose sound like something you would say if you were telling someone a story.

Be Honest

Everyone is looking for an edge in the admissions process, but avoid inflating or fabricating your accomplishments because you think it will earn you extra points. The best personal statements are truthful and tell a story about how you’ve grown and what you look to accomplish in the future. Since admissions officers read hundreds, if not thousands, of essays, they will quickly be able to distinguish when you aren’t being fully honest, so avoid making something up or exaggerating the details.

Writing a personal statement is challenging, but students can set themselves up for success by being genuine and allotting plenty of time for brainstorming and revisions. If you’re getting ready to write your personal statement and seeking guidance, contact us today to see how our team of experts can help you write something that you’re proud of.


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