Personal Statement for College

November 5, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Personal Statement for College

What is a personal statement?

Personal statements are a required component of the application process for both undergraduate and graduate schools. Personal statements are any writings that students are required to produce as part of their primary application for admission to an undergraduate program. It can take many forms; such as the Common Application Essay and the Coalition Application Essay.

In the process of applying to colleges, personal statements are typically not school-specific; rather, these are referred to as supplemental essays. They are distributed to a variety of colleges, typically including all of the schools to which you have applied. Thus, you should equip yourself with college personal statement ideas ahead of time.

What is the purpose of a personal statement?

The personal statement is typically the only place on the application where you are given the opportunity to speak about experiences, qualities, or views that are unique to you and are not covered anywhere else.

It is an opportunity to deviate from the information that is used to describe you on paper and to offer a look into the person that you truly are. In a nutshell, this is the admissions committee’s opportunity to learn more about who you really are.

Therefore, what should you include in your personal statement to ensure that universities accept it? Well, they are looking for something that distinguishes them from other people. They are questioning whether or not you write about anything that can be classified as truly original.

In addition to getting to know you better, admissions committees will examine your writing abilities as part of the process. Are you able to write in a way that is both clear and concise? Can you tell a compelling story? Not only is the substance of your essay vital, but so is the ability to write well, which is why you should make sure to additionally fine-tune your actual writing (grammar and syntax), in addition to the content of your essay.

How to choose a topic for your college personal statement?

The vast majority of the time, you will be presented with a selection of different prompts from which to choose. Examples of common topics for personal statements for college are as follows:

  • The central aspect of your identity (activity, interest, talent, background).
  • Overcoming a failure.
  • The time you rose to a challenge or showed leadership.
  • Experience that changed your beliefs.
  • The problem you’d like to solve.
  • Subject or idea that captivates you.

When it comes to the personal statement for college, one of the issues that we are asked the most frequently is, “How do I choose what to write about?” One or more of the students will have an immediate and powerful thought in response to the prompt for the personal statement. There is at least some degree of unpredictability surrounding many more factors.

When working with others, we frequently encourage them to focus less on the specific topic and more on the elements of themselves that they believe are most deserving of being highlighted. This is especially helpful if the subject for your essay is something like “topic of your choice,” because the ideal essay topic for you can really be one that you make up yourself!

When it comes to students that have an interesting story or a past that defines them, either of these things can serve as the ideal trigger for shaping your approach. Simple subjects that are written about in a fresh way might be interesting and enlightening for students who have a voice that is their own or who see things from a different viewpoint.

When deciding what to write about in your personal statement for college, you should, as a final step, take into account the other parts of your application. You might try to address one of these topics in your personal statement if you have recently returned from a gap year, received a failing grade in a single class during your sophomore year, or participated extensively in something that isn’t mentioned anywhere else on your application but that you’re very passionate about.

After all, the purpose of the admissions committee is to learn more about you and gain a better sense of who you truly are; all of these aspects will provide them with a deeper insight into who you are as a person.

What should be included in a personal statement for college?

The personal statement should reflect the traits, abilities, and values that you’ve developed over the course of your life, as well as how those skills have prepared you for attending college. It should also demonstrate how those skills have prepared you for entering college.

A strong example of a personal statement for college possesses these four qualities:


Can you identify at least four to five of your most fundamental values? Do you find a wide range of values, or do the same figures keep popping up?


Do you get the impression that the essay is mostly analytical, or do you get the impression that it’s coming from a deeper and more sensitive place? Do you get the impression that you wrote it with the majority of your head (intellect) or with the majority of your heart and gut? Do you feel like you have a better understanding of yourself as well as a stronger connection after reading the essay?


You should be able to pinpoint at least three to five “so what” moments of insight throughout the essay. Are these moments somewhat expected, or do they really shed light on what’s going on?


Does the essay make logical, but not overly obvious (also known as uninteresting) connections between its many ideas? Are you able to see that the essay is the result of a sequence of decisions that have been given significant thought and that you have spent a significant amount of time refining the essay through the course of numerous drafts?

Tips for writing a personal statement for college

Take a look at these tips for writing a personal statement for college:

1. Approach this as a creative writing assignment.

Many students struggle with writing personal statements because they have never been required to complete this kind of writing before. Students in high school are accustomed to writing academic reports or articles that analyze a topic, but rarely pieces that are creative and convey a story.

The purpose of writing creatively is to tell a tale that is significant to others while also having a good time doing it. Pick an essay subject that interests you deeply so that you may savor the process of writing it. There is no requirement whatsoever that it be intellectual or remarkable in any way.

Because your transcript and test scores already demonstrate your academic prowess, the purpose of the personal statement is to provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate who you are outside of the classroom. Because of this, the admissions officers will have a more interesting and enjoyable experience reading your essay.

There is no requirement for you to use the standard pattern of five paragraphs followed by a clear thesis statement while you are writing. Your narrative ought to have an underlying moral or lesson, but it’s not necessary that you spell it out; rather, it should become obvious as the story progresses.

Your writing should also have an organic sense to it. Even though it will be more sophisticated than a chat with your best friend, it shouldn’t feel stuffy or artificial when it’s coming out of your mouth. Finding the right balance between the two can be challenging, but in general, a voice that sounds as though it would be natural when speaking with a respected instructor or a veteran guide is a good choice.

2. Illustrate rather than explain.

When students write their essays, one of the most common mistakes they do is to just recount the events that took place rather than genuinely transporting the reader to the time and place where the events took place and telling a story.

Imagine that you are already present in the scene that you want to describe in your essay if you feel that you are beginning to write it like a report or if you are having problems moving past the telling stage in your writing. You can answer questions like: How did you physically and emotionally react to what happened? What made this moment significant and why? What have you seen or heard, if anything? What sort of ideas did you have?

3. Use conversation.

Include some dialogue if you want to keep your work interesting and keep your readers engaged. Consider revealing what was actually stated to you by someone. It is more effective to read something along these lines.

Dialogue is a great way to add some action and a sense of immediacy to your narrative, as well as to break up lengthier passages of text. However, this should not be taken to an extreme. It is essential to avoid leaning too heavily on dialogue while still making use of it on occasion as an efficient tool for writing in order to achieve a healthy balance.

You do not want your essay to sound like a script for a movie (unless, of course, you intend for it to sound like a script for a movie and you want to demonstrate your skills as a screenwriter).

The essays and personal statements you write for your college applications are crucial. Writing a strong essay for your application can make the difference between getting in and being rejected. The personal statement is the holy grail of college admissions, especially for the Ivy League, so if you ask us how to get in, we’ll tell you to focus on writing a good one. When reading your application essays, admissions officers will see you as more than simply a number.

As a result of their time with AdmissionSight, our students go on to become fantastic writers who can effectively convey the breadth and depth of their experiences in writing. Feel free to set up an appointment today to book your initial consultation.


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