A guide in Writing Personal Statement for college applications including examples and a template.
How is it that boasting about your best friend is so much easier than writing about yourself? Yet, whether you are writing a personal statement essay for college admissions or scholarship applications, it is essential to write about yourself. This guide will help create an explicit personal declaration.
Let us start with the question: Why is a personal declaration important?
Your statements should include something that’s not in your resume.
- Colleges can see who we are and what our contributions are to the college. It’s better to tell stories and provide examples than just listing achievements.
- It should complement the other sections of your college application. The entirety of your college application should be taken into consideration. Your statement, your short answers to the application, and supporting documentation should tell a story. You should not repeat your message or write short essays. If you’re asked to answer three questions and then submit a personal report on the subject, maybe they shouldn’t focus on Music.
- Your essay should be persuasive and explain why you deserve the scholarship. Your essay should be relevant to the goals of the scholarship provider. Learn more about writing a scholarship essay. Apply as efficiently as possible.
- It should be a celebration of your strengths. It should not overlook your flaws. It shouldn’t ignore your weaknesses.
Which topics can I write about?
It can be challenging to know where to start. You should first decide what options are available to you. A college essay prompt may be required to be specific. Many students use the Common App to apply. This year, there are seven topics available:
- Some students have an unusual background, identity, talent, or interest that makes them stand out. Please share your story if you feel this way.
- Learn from your failures and make the most of them improve your future success. Think back to a time you faced a setback, challenge, or failure. How did it affect you? What were the lessons you took away?
- Recall a time when you questioned or challenged a belief. What was the catalyst that triggered your thinking? What was the end result?
- Please tell us about a problem you’ve solved or one that you would like to solve. This could be an intellectual, ethical, or research challenge. It is important to explain the significance of the problem and the steps taken to solve it.
- A moment of achievement or realization that has led to personal growth and new understanding.
- Talk about a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose track of time. What is it about this topic that captures your attention? If you want to learn more, who or what should you look for?
- An essay can be shared on any topic that interests you. You can share articles you’ve already written or ones that respond to another prompt.
It’s obvious that #7 is a catchall. This allows you to write any personal statement about or any topic.
But perhaps that isn’t the best thing.
What is the best way to choose the focus of my college essay?
Here’s a 3-step solution.
STEP 1. Brainstorm about your life
These four sets of questions require you to spend 5-10 minutes per set.
This exercise can be done alone or with a friend/family member. Keep track of any notes you take as you speak. It may be that brainstorming with others is better than writing down what you have written.
A: What are your most important moments?
Which moments were most important in your life and made a difference? What lessons did you take away? What did you learn? These topics could include:
- Accidents or injuries
- Your best friend, no matter if you’ve lost it or made it.
- Discuss the moment with a peer.
- Do something different the first time.
- To family and friends, disclose your sexual identity.
- Learn more about your family by visiting Jesus’s story.
- Moving to a new location
- You’re traveling to another country or learning about a new culture. Gabby shares her journey.
- Your first pet (new responsibilities for a fur parent or dad)
B: What have you been doing with your time?
Look beyond the what. Think about the why. How did you feel? What did you learn? These include:
- When you were 16 years old, you joined the band, color guard, or soccer team.
- Maybe you couldn’t do the activity. Perhaps you sustained injuries and had to leave the field.
- Maybe you were attracted to journalism because of the way it made you feel.
C: Whom/what are you inspired by?
What’s the secret to your knowledge of this person or that object? What inspires you most? Which are your inspirations? What inspired you to take action? You could join a club or participate in an activity. Or, you might do an internship on the topic. This could be one of the subjects:
- Technology – Maybe a specific App inspired you to learn to code.
- Person in your life: Maybe you have positively impacted someone in your family or just met them.
- Podcast, movie, book, or other show that encourages you to look at life differently.
- A song or dance you are passionate about performing the arts
D: What are your proudest achievements?
Write down all the things you are proud to be proud of. These can be your achievements, hobbies, talents, or unique quirks. These are just a few topics to consider:
- Times, you saved the day. Like the incredible left-handed catch, you made on the field.
- Personal qualities: Perhaps you’re funny or calm when under pressure. These are just some examples of situations where you might have shown these qualities.
- You are good at baking delicious chocolate brownies. Guess how many gumballs are in your jar. Tell us about a time when this amazing talent was valued!
Don’t worry if you have the same ideas in multiple sections. This is a great way for you to get your ideas flowing.
Select the most innovative ideas from the group. These ideas should range from 2 to 4.
After you have brainstormed ideas and selected 2-4 winners, Find the Right College agrees with you. Now it’s time to start writing! Write a few sentences about each topic you’ve chosen. Next, let your words flow. Each issue should take around 15 minutes to write. This exercise is not meant to be about structure or organization. It’s just an opportunity to get your thoughts down on paper.
It will also allow you to determine which topic has the most “legs.” Your best case will often be the one that appears.
- Write about the most easily accessible topic (those 15 minutes flew!)
- Let’s hear at most one story!
- You feel it reveals something of yourself
- Do not allow other parts of the application to distract from your main topic. This will take 500 words.
Okay, I now have my topic. Now, I have to write it. What do I need to do?
Let’s start by asking: What makes an individual message extraordinary or terrible?
Here are some important things to remember:
Keep it personal and include the name of the person. Everybody has a story. Each of us has our own journeys. You might think someone else has written about it or that your story isn’t unique. It IS.
- Talk like.
Your statement should reflect who you are. There is no right or wrong tone. Be true to yourself with your tone. You don’t need to impress with big words. It can make you appear too ambitious. You might even misspell it!
2. Consider your audience.
Who is the intended audience for your statement? What message do you want to convey? What can you do to show that you are compatible? How can you justify your support for the scholarship provider
3. The big three: Implication, Story, and Connection to college/significance.
The best college essays are at least three things:
- You can only tell one story or anecdote. (“Show, don’t tell.
- Please describe why you think this story or anecdote matters to you.
- You can use this information to either end or start your college application. This information could include details about your major (why do you think the program/department is great) and general information about why this school is important to you (e.g., location, extracurricular activities, Greek life). You should be specific in your request to the school that you are interested in. This is an important part of your statement that should not be copied and pasted.
Here is an example of how you can use the personal essay template.
- Story: After visiting Italy, I fell in love with art at the age of 11. The following paragraphs are from the article
- What is the importance of it? That trip was a great learning experience. I learned a lot of art and made lots of art. Mention extracurricular activities. Three paragraphs
- Why choose this college? Because of its exceptional art program, I chose X college. You can join the Y and Z clubs. It is located in New York, so I can visit many art museums like MOMA. ( 1 paragraph
Keep your writing to the required length. You should aim to write 500 words. However, you may be permitted to write up to 600 words or as much as 650 words for college or scholarship applications.
- Edit your work.
Once you are done with your statement, step away. Once in a while, you relied on pencil and paper to record your thoughts and information (including the first drafts of college essays). Our eyes have become accustomed to screens and often overlook grammar mistakes or typos.
The document can be saved in a safe place on your computer. Then take a break from your computer and then relax. This will allow you to refocus your thoughts when you return to editing the document.
This is an important point we cannot emphasize enough: Before you submit your statement, make sure to check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Grammar is important! You should be able to reflect on your report. This includes the style and topic you choose. Use excellent grammar and structure to impress colleges (or other scholarship providers).
2. Has it been edited by someone else?
We recommend that you ask a friend, counselor, or parent to read your statement before sending it. Then, you can get a second opinion to help you evaluate the tone and quality of your writing and how it represents you.
3. Please submit your statement.
After everything is completed, click submit! Don’t hesitate!
Personal essays can be used for scholarship essays.
You can double-use your statement. scholarshipworld.uk is the best place to find information about scholarships. Register now to be matched with scholarships that are available.
Are you able to provide personal statements?
Charlie Maynard – wrote about the things that matter most to him and his reasons for applying to grad school.
- This was the open sentence: “It is important to me to be open to learning new ideas and to be open to learning.” These moments, when I took advantage of opportunities, have brought me some of my most memorable times. This can be seen in my education, travels all over the world, and professional career.
- This was his essay’s anchor. He then gave examples.
Charlotte Lau wrote her college Common App personal essay,
“As a child, I was not close to my dad. But, we were always good buddies. He was a good friend and made me laugh.
- What was an RBI?
- How to catch a fish when it bites.
- What to bring on a camping trip?
He was there to comfort me in times of sadness. He is a man of humor, words, and not comforting gestures.
As I grew up, my interest in words (albeit written) increased, and so our conversations became more diverse and complex. We would, for example, have epistemological and sometimes even honest conversations while watching sports together. This conversation was better suited for a philosophy class than a casual chat during a Knicks game-out. During these talks, my father would share stories from his youth. These stories were often tangential or anecdotal and were sometimes referred to as irrelevant. However, I was still eager to keep them in my mind. Over the years, I began to understand my father and their lives.
These excerpts are taken from other personal statements.
These are college essays on personal characteristics:
Essay 1: Humorous essay about learning lessons and getting a D
While a D isn’t the worst thing in the world, it’s not something you want to see on college applications. It was found on the first significant historical test of the year in red pen. It was only one-third of our grade, we were assured. My chances of being accepted to a four-year college were already at risk.
What is the problem? I’m not a D student. I may get the odd C and the occasional A. D, but they are not enough to make me crazy. They are sufficient to grab my attention. I have no idea why I didn’t study. There is always a reason not to learn. I didn’t know what I was doing, so I wasn’t prepared for the test and ended up being beaten.
There were two choices. I could accept that my grade was D, which is contrary to my beliefs. I could study hard for the next test and try to improve my grade using the average force.
Essay 2: What is the difference between a football talent and a responsibility?
“Talent doesn’t stand out. It is what people compliment the most. “You are so talented!” This doesn’t always mean that they believe it is. This does not necessarily mean I worked hard. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I was lucky, blessed, or anything else you wish to call it.
Talent is something that I have. This has been something I’ve known since I was old enough to play football. This makes perfect sense to me. My teammates and other players will help me see where the ball is and what I am doing. My mind is planning for what happens in the silence between each snap. I’m watching my lines and following the routes of my receivers. […]
Talent is often used as to excuse. It is actually a motivator. To be truly gifted, I will accept dreams that only a small percentage of people have the chance to experience. I will do everything in my power to achieve this goal.
Talent is a responsibility. Because you are not responsible for its acquisition, it is bound to be a success. Although it was what I believed, the varsity wasn’t the end. Because of this, I can focus on the goal and complete the steps.
Essay 3: Living with depression
“Before I was diagnosed, I was told it was normal. Teens can be moody; I was told it would pass. I don’t think anyone can live like me.
The diagnosis and treatment saved my life. Because of this, I am able to see the world in a way people with brain chemistry can’t. […] I discovered a space full of small kindnesses.
This may sound harsh, as if kindness can only exist in the most basic of forms. This is not what I mean. Many people are extraordinary and dedicate their lives to helping others. They are extraordinary, and I don’t mean to disparage them. They aren’t, however, the norm.
These are the things that are considered to be normal. These acts of kindness do not cost a lot. It takes a little time and a moment of kindness. You can find a smile to cheer you up, a hand to support your shoulders or just a chance for a chat.
These are three personal statements by college students about why they chose to major in
Essay 4: Why would this applicant like to study Music?
“My great-great-uncle Giacomo Ferrari was born in 1912 in Neverland (NY) and is the youngest of four brothers. His two oldest brothers and his parents fled Italy in the early 1900s in search of a better life in America. Their struggles as immigrants were inspiring, but they faced similar challenges to many other immigrant families. My family’s actions are even more impressive because of this. Antonio, Giacomo’s elder brother, was my great grandfather and decided to teach Giacomo the basics of correspondence violin. Giacomo Ferrari, a professional violinist, created the “Lunchtime Strings” program, which provided free lessons and monthly concerts in the Neverland region to elementary schools.
As a native English speaker, it was possible to learn violin and viola from private, qualified teachers. It is amazing to see how perseverance my great-grandfather and great-great-uncle had in learning a violin using booklets and lessons that were not written in their native languages. Their passion for learning new things and their willingness to share their knowledge has inspired me. This was something they did not do as blue-collar immigrants. This spirit inspired me to study composition at the University of XXXX.
Essay 5: Why would you like to be an allergy specialist?
“Suddenly, I felt the hives form and began scratching my neck. My throat was itchy, and I felt a weight on my chest. I ran to the toilet to vomit. I couldn’t breathe deeply because of the anaphylactic shock. My only defense and survival was my body.
[…] After that incident, I was afraid. Fear of death, eating, and my own body became my greatest fear. As I grew older, I became more worried about the food labels. If I didn’t know what the ingredients were, I would stop eating them. I knew what could happen if I ate something wrong, so I didn’t want the risk. I felt resentful at my body for being an outsider.
This experience, along with regular visits to my allergist, inspired me to become an allergy specialist throughout the years. It was only ten years ago that I first experienced this. This inspired me to help others. I wanted to help others feel the same way I felt. That fear, pain, and resentment should not be felt by anyone. As I learned more about medical science, I was also fascinated by the immune system’s reaction to allergens.
Essay 6: Why would this applicant need to study medicine?
My passion for sharing knowledge and teaching others is driven by my curiosity and love of learning. My shadowing experiences stimulated my curiosity and motivated me to learn more about the world. For example, what is platelet-rich plasma, and how does it stimulate tissue development? What is diabetes-like for the proximal convoluted tubule? My questions never stopped. I was always eager to learn more and was happy to apply my knowledge to solving clinical problems. Medicine appeals to me because it integrates different concepts into one cohesive whole.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between science and medicine. Medicine is science. Medicine is all about people and their feelings, problems, and concerns. Humans have not preprogrammed robots with the same problems. Understanding doctors are essential for humankind. Doctors who are always curious about the latest developments in medicine and humanity deserve it. They require someone passionate about solving problems and finding innovative ways to solve them. I want to be that doctor. I will treat each patient individually and use my strengths in personalized care. On Friday mornings, I’ll be in the operating room, staring over my shoulder and dreaming of the day when the drill will be mine.
It’s now your turn.
Congratulations! Now it’s time to make your statement.