Tips for Writing a Personal Statement


A personal statement is daunting, exhausting, and probably the most stress-filled essay you ever had to write. It has a significant impact on your college application (to an extent), which worsens matters. Nonetheless, I have a couple of tips and suggestions that may help you out.

Be detailed with your topic. Even the simple can be excellent if written well enough, so have a unique focus, and highlight how you changed or improved. You do not have to be a stellar student or someone who has done everything the school has to offer, and the essay must show who you are beneath any achievements.

For the club leaders (or a leader in any extracurricular/event)

If you have a role in a club, such as Vice-President or Secretary, you should have plenty of knowledge about the inner workings of your club. Begin with something that cannot be applied to others (preferably with a good hook). Maybe it is Club Rush and someone dropped the chocolate chip cookies, which were specially ordered from Publix with the special blue drizzle. Maybe it is a tournament and someone is out sick. The idea should be unique to you and your struggles, goals, or accomplishments.

Afterward, say what you did and how that changed you. Maybe you had to rush to find new cookies, or you improvised with Walmart cookies and an old tube of frosting. Perhaps it made you a proper leader, which is important for you to succeed in your chosen career. Or you had to budget what cake to bring to the club based on how much money you had, and that led to your interest in accounting.

If someone found your essay on the street, they should know it belongs to you. That said, there is no “right” way to write the essay or “right” topic to choose. It has to speak to you and be true to your thoughts, whether that be the format of your statement or what it revolves around. Conclude with what you learned or reiterate how your skills were represented from that one moment. Show how you are different from all of the other applications.

For the “average folk” (or those who have no ideas)

You are not as “average” in a personal statement as you expect yourself to be. Any moment from your life can be used, no matter how big or small, to accurately represent you.

If you have a unique heritage, perhaps you have a story to share (be name, culture, or dance). It could be as simple as tree-climbing leading to your love of the environmental sciences, or exploration in the forest making you more keen to all of the intricacies of business. (Connections to future careers are not required.) This can be tricky to accomplish, so focus on the details of what makes you unique. There are plenty of ways to write your statement, and all have the possibility to succeed.

If you have an interest you enjoy, form a theme from your love for it. Gaming can lead to a style of formatting your story that is personal to you, such as every paragraph starting with a certain move, and in the end these moves are what you use to play a certain game that impacts you the most. If you try something “different” like the prior suggestion, have plenty of people read your essay so that you know your point reached the audience well.

Florida is known for its sea life. If that suits your purpose, you can mention that awful moment a jellyfish stung you (as long as you are detailed about how it relates to your growth). Or you just love turtles so much that you have lots of them and know everything about turtle habits and have a limited edition turtle plushie collection (imagine such a story deriving from babysitting the class turtle or a bet made with a friend).

Anything sounds interesting if you write well enough, like something you did during summer, so develop those English skills! If you are less linguistically inclined, ask for help or strengthen the aspects you can.

For the family (or if you want the essay to mention someone else)

If you wish to discuss a meaningful moment in your life that includes another person, first determine whether they are necessary. There are always characters in a story that are not entirely necessary in ways other than exposition. Exposition can be a positive, but it must be balanced with the essay itself.

A family member is often influential in their words or actions, even if it is something as simple as this one game you played with your grandpa. However, it is imperative to balance their impact to your reaction. A little sandwich, with the start being an event with that person and the end being the conclusion to that event, may work well (or what you heard first, realized next, and learned last). For example, if your essay is about a chess match with your grandfather, the beginning could be the start of the match or a notable conversation during it, and the end could be the final “checkmate.”