Best Tips for Writing a Personal Statement

A personal statement is what makes the difference for your college application. What do you need to know about writing your personal statement?


What Is a Personal Statement?

A personal statement is an essay that is addressed to an admissions committee when you’re applying for college. The best personal statements are those that detail your passions, career goals, personal characteristics, and extracurricular activities that you feel help you stand out to admissions officers. In other words, think of a personal statement as a critical element of your application, along with letters of application and your school transcript. In your statement, you can write about anything you think will capture the reader’s attention and properly convey your goals, dreams and the qualifications you feel make you a perfect candidate for the college you are applying for.

The Format of a Personal Statement

When writing your personal statement, you should treat it like a research project. Think about what makes you special. It is important that you showcase your unique skills, personality traits and personal characteristics in a way that will make you memorable to the reader. Writing personal statements may take a bit of thought, but if you keep these tips in mind, you will find the writing process much easier and create a great personal statement that will impress any college admissions team.

1. A unique hook

College admissions officers read thousands of personal statements every year, from essays that focus on personal growth to those that center on work experience. You need to create a hook that is unique to you and will make the opening paragraph of interest to the reader. This is why it is advised that prospective students going through the application process tie a unique, personal experience into their personal statement.

b>2. The reason you have a passion for the field you’re going into

Whatever personal experience you choose to use, make sure it ties into the reason you want to go into the field you have chosen. Expand those thoughts to your future plans and discuss what you hope to gain from this educational path.

3. Your best skills

Whether you are applying to college from high school, applying to medical school, or you are seeking to attend graduate school, it is important that you convey to the college admissions team the skills you feel make you suited to their institution. If you have a particularly high GPA, you should certainly mention this (anything above 3.2 is definitely worth noting).

4. Frame your statement as a story that also makes a case for your admittance

Think of your statement as a narrative in which you tell the story of your life and interests, and what has led you to this point. Always frame your story in terms of your skills and strengths, how they match up with your field of study and how you’d fit in with the college environment. Include your reasons for choosing that institution while presenting a compelling argument for your admittance. Talking to people you consider mentors or even a trusted family member about what they would focus on can be helpful, especially if they are providing letters of recommendation for you.

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Making Your Personal Statement Stand Out

Helping your personal statement stand out among other applicants can be difficult, but here are a few extra things you can do to distinguish yourself.

Be passionate about your interest

While being eloquent and expressing yourself well is a major advantage, you can also bolster your writing by showing real passion for the subject you are applying to study. A well-written personal statement will be elevated to a memorable and compelling personal statement if you allow your passion for what you are doing to stand out.

Read the personal statement guidelines

The application instructions for your chosen college should have guidelines as to what is expected from a personal statement. This will include elements such as a desired word count limit and any questions you’ll be specifically asked to answer. By considering these guidelines, you will show attention to detail and the ability to follow directions.

Research the school

As we said, it pays to treat your personal statement like a research project. In addition to researching what makes an effective personal statement, you should also research the history and ethos of your chosen institution. If you link your personal statement to the history and character of the college, you will have a higher chance of standing out.

If you want inspiration for writing your application essay, you can also look at personal statement examples. You can find sample personal statements online, but remember to use them for inspiration rather than something to just copy verbatim for your own personal statement.

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FAQ: Personal Statement

Q: How do I start writing a personal statement?

It is a good idea to start jotting down ideas to express your feelings about why you want to apply to the colleges you have chosen, why you have chosen the major you have, and what you can offer the college as a student. Collecting your thoughts in this way is the first step in helping you shape your statement and avoiding cliches or predictable content.

Q: How long should my personal statement be?

A personal statement can be as long as it needs to be; there is no set limit. However, it is common for a personal statement to be one to two pages in length, and 700 to 1,000 words. Refer to the specific college guidelines to be sure you meet their specifications.

Q: Is a personal statement supposed to be added to my resume?

No, a personal statement is what you send to college admissions officers. The document commonly attached to a resume is known as a cover letter. However, a resume does include a personal summary or objective statement. You can learn more about resume writing on the ResumeHelp blog.

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