Tips on Writing the Personal Statement

By Violet W

Your personal statement is a 650-word essay that will go to nearly every school on your college list. The essay prompts, which have already been released for the 2022-23 application cycle, allow you to distinguish yourself from other students who might have similar SAT, academics, or resumes.

Here are five tips to use your personal statement to stand out from the crowd.

Pick a Strong Topic

Writing about a sports injury, how you finally got an “A” in a demanding high school class, how much you love Harry Potter, how you went on a mission trip to a foreign country for a week, or how the death of a grandparent affected you, is not the best way to spend your 650 words.

These topics tend to be overdone, and admissions officers are likely bored with reading about them. However, remember no topic will be completely unique, so you should focus on being very personal. Add a lot of details to your essay so we, as readers, can get to know you better.

Some possible topics you could write about include:

  • A unique activity your family does
  • An extracurricular or other activity where you display leadership skills
  • An accomplishment you are proud of
  • A challenge you’ve overcome
  • A time you were pushed out of your comfort zone

Starting the Essay with a Hook

A great way to start your essay is often with a story. You can pick a small moment from your topic and bring us into the narrative. One technique is to use the five senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell to show us the story. For example, if you want to talk about your babysitting experience, don’t just tell us about the kids’ ages and how much fun it is. Instead, start with a particular moment from your time together. Maybe you can describe how you learned about the planets by painting them or the unique memory games you created. Then, walk us through the situation! As you continue to write your essay, you might want to highlight specific skills you learned along the way or tell a story that portrays a particular quality.

You don’t have to write about only “big moments.” Find something small that can help show you are. We want to be able to understand you by the end of the essay. Therefore, consider a few qualities or achievements you want to showcase and stick with those. If you try to put too much information into your essay, we won’t be able to understand you fully by the end of the 650 words.

Proofread Your Essay

Always have one or two other people proofread your essay! They will catch small mistakes you make and can give you good advice. You will want to ensure that the tone of your essay and the stories you choose to tell showcase you to the best of your abilities.

(The writer is a College Counselor and Outreach Coordinator at Moonprep.)

Image courtesy of (Image Courtesy: Edutopia)

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