Don’t let the college application personal statement stress you out!
Every year, students across the country begin on the difficult journey of drafting and writing a college application personal statement. It’s not an easy feat, but one that is almost a right of passage. These quick tips should help you stay on track.
There are lots of great books on the college application personal statement, but a great starting point may be as simple as your friends and family who have gone through the process. Seeing what they’ve written about can help you get ideas, good and bad. After you read a friend’s personal statement, think about what it meant to you. Did you think “WOW, I would accept this person!” or did you think “Meh, that was just okay.” These gut feelings will help you understand what will work for you.
It’s easy to get lost very quickly within a personal statement. That is why it’s important to think about what you are going to write ahead of time. You don’t have to come up with the entire story, or even what each paragraph is going to talk about about, however it would be nice to have some thoughts written out prior to actually commencing writing.
Okay, so this may feel like it contradicts the last tip. In some ways it does, but in other ways we find that this really helps. We see a lot of students get stuck in the brainstorming phase without moving past it. Sometimes the best way to get out of a writer’s block is to actually start putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard)! Once ideas start flowing, go with them without worrying about grammar or word choice. Those changes can come later. Just type!
Getting other people’s opinion on your personal statement is incredibly important. However, personal statements are PERSONAL! That means that one person’s opinion can be completely different than the next persons, and that doesn’t mean that either of them are wrong. Synthesize each person’s feedback and keep what you want, discard what you don’t.
Keeping your voice throughout the personal statement is important. Don’t let your parents write this essay for you because you will get caught in a trap. You want to make sure the admissions committees knows who you are as a person and the personal statement is one way to do that.
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