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Last updated March 7, 2023

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How to Write a Personal Statement for Colleges

Key Takeaway

In this mega-guide, we walk you through all the steps you'll need to take to write a personal statement that stands out.

The term “personal statement” makes me laugh because it’s deceptively straightforward. Write a “statement,” but make it “personal.” Simple enough, right?

Wrong! If you’ve even begun to think about your personal statement for college, then you know that it’s a confusing and uncertain task. Different people have different perceptions of what “personal” means, there’s no way to know who the admissions officers reading your essay will be, and it’s challenging to strike the right tone and find the right topic.

When you factor in your other application components—transcripts, letters of recommendation, and supplemental essays—deciding how to approach your personal statement may seem overwhelming.

Luckily, at the heart of your personal statement is you. No one is a better expert on the topic than you are. Writing vulnerably about yourself isn’t easy, but you’re capable of writing a personal statement that stands out to admissions officers and speaks to who you really are.

And this guide will walk you through every step.

Let’s get started!

What is a personal statement?

We’ll kick it off with the basics: what even is a personal statement?

A personal statement, sometimes called a “college essay,” is the centerpiece of your college application.

Think of it like the entrée of a big meal: it’s the main attraction that the rest of your application components are structured around.

But it’s not just any old essay. What you write will be very different from any essay you’ve written for an English or social studies class. Instead of writing about someone or something else, you’ll write about yourself. And instead of making some kind of argument about the meaning of a book or historical event, you’ll convey an overall message about who you are and what’s important to you.

Personal statements are deeply meaningful, even vulnerable reflections on some aspect of your life. That doesn’t mean that you have to spill your deepest, darkest secrets or describe your worst trauma. In fact, it’s better that you don’t do that.

But what you write should go beyond the surface level. Your essay topic should be like a heartfelt conversation with a close friend or loved one, a brief glimpse into who you are and who you want to be in college. Your admissions officers are likely strangers. But after reading your personal statement, they should feel like they actually know you.

Because they should be interesting and meaningful, personal statements are also often exercises in creative writing. No, you don’t get to make up a story or write fiction. But you do get to use creative writing practices to make your personal statement interesting, compelling, and attention-grabbing. (Looking to learn more about how admissions offices process your application alongside so many others? We break it all down for you here.)

Overall, there are a few important personal statement features to keep in mind.

  • Topics: Personal statements can cover a range of topics. Depending on the application system you’re using, you may be required to craft an essay in response to a specific prompt. The Common Application, for example, has seven prompts for you to choose from.
  • Audience: As with any piece of writing, you can’t forget to think about who you’re writing for. In the case of your personal statement, you’re writing for admissions officers who will vote on whether or not to admit you to their schools. These admissions officers probably don’t know you, and they have hundreds (maybe even thousands) of other essays and applications to read. They are short on time, so your essay should work to quickly grab and keep their attention.
  • Theme: All good personal statements have a “theme.” A theme is the overall message that you want your readers to take away from your essay. It might be something like “I found strength by connecting with my family members through a difficult situation” or “My intellectual curiosity and passion for social justice is what drives my interest in engineering.” 
  • Literary Devices: Literary devices aren’t just for the authors you read in your English classes. They’re also for you! Since personal statements are usually exercises in creative writing, you may find yourself using devices like metaphors, allusions, imagery, and more. When done sparingly and with intention, these devices can add interest, depth, and maturity to your writing.

With these features in mind, let’s go over what goes in a personal statement.

What should a personal statement include?

You’ve likely never written a personal statement before. Asking you to write one for the first time during the college application process is like throwing you into an airplane without a pilot’s license. The stakes are high in college applications, but it’s hard to know what or how to write a personal statement if this is your first try.

First off, that’s why it’s important to make time to write multiple drafts. Your first draft won’t be perfect. You’ll need to try again, so save yourself a headache and get going as soon as you can.

Secondly, because you haven’t written a personal statement before, we want to break down a few of the conventions. These four criteria are what most admissions officers look for in your college essay.

  1. Personal Insight:

    As tempting as it may be, your college essay can’t just be surface-level nonsense. It may be fun to read about your favorite trip to New York or the time you made it to the basketball finals. But a personal statement that doesn’t actually reveal any genuine insights about its writer is not fulfilling its purpose.

  2. Vulnerability & Meaning:

    Vulnerability means opening yourself up to rejection. Just like it’s scary to share personal information about yourself with new friends, writing a vulnerable personal statement can be an intimidating ask. But only by being truly open can you write about something meaningful. It is this vulnerability and meaning that helps you go below surface level.

  3. Strengths

    I’ll explain this criterion more soon, but the gist is that your personal statement needs to convey one of your core strengths. Admissions officers want to know what you can contribute to a classroom and college community, so your college essays need to show them just that.

  4. Time, care, and attention:

    Finally, your personal statement also needs to show time, care, and attention. We’ve all experienced those friends who don’t put in any effort to text back or make plans. In the same way, admissions officers want to see that you’ve put in the effort before they invite you to join their community. That means carefully planning your topic and essay, writing multiple drafts, and editing your narrative and language to the best of your abilities. Your personal statement doesn’t have to be Pulitzer material, but it should be clear that you’ve really tried your best.

Alright! We’ll get to the actual personal statement planning process soon, but first let’s go over some logistics.

How Long is a Personal Statement?

Before you start writing, it’s also important to think about the amount of writing you’ll have to do. The length of your personal statement will likely depend on the requirements set out by the school(s) you’re applying to.

But if you’re using an application system like the Common Application or Coalition, then your personal statement will be maximum 650 words. Other applications might require you to write anywhere from 450 to 700 or even 1000 words.

In all cases, our general rule is this: try to get to at least 80% of the word count. So if the word count is 1000 words, then you should aim for at least 800. If it’s 650 words maximum, then shoot for at least 520.

If you’re applying to schools that require additional supplemental essays, then you’ll also likely have to submit several shorter essays. In total, students can end up writing over 5,000 words combined for their college essays. So don’t just plan for your personal statement, but also leave time for those other essays, too.

For now, I recommend that you don’t worry so much about your personal statement word count. You’ll be able to add or remove words later on, depending on whether you’ve sufficiently told your story or need to pare things back.

What’s important to establish from the get-go, though, is a good topic and organization. Doing so will help you balance your time and application narrative.

How to Find a Personal Statement Topic

So now you have an idea of what a personal statement is and what it should look like. But that’s only the beginning.

Before you can start writing, you’ll obviously need something to write about. Now’s the time to choose a topic.

Choosing a topic can be one of the most intimidating parts of the personal statement writing process. There’s a lot to consider! How do you know which experiences to write about? Is your topic too personal? Not personal enough? You may have too many options to choose from or too few.

The following two exercises will give you something to write about, no matter what your experiences have been. And you won’t just find a topic. You’ll find a perfect topic. That’s because these exercises help you think about your personal statement topic in terms of your strengths.

At the heart of these exercises is our belief that all good college essays showcase the writer’s core strengths. “Strengths” isn’t just about being good at math or being the fastest runner on your track team. Instead, a “strength” can be any positive characteristic about yourself that shapes how you interact with the world around you.

Having read tens of thousands of college essays collectively, we know that the essays that earn admission are the ones that speak to the writer’s strengths. A strengths-based approach to your personal statement doesn’t mean that your essay has to be braggadocious or about a happy topic. What it does mean is that your essay’s topic should give you the opportunity to show an admissions officer something favorable about yourself.

This is important for two reasons.

First, your entire application works together to create a cohesive application narrative. Your essays, activities list, transcript, and letters of recommendation all turn into what your admissions officers understand to be your personal brand. Since the personal statement is the centerpiece of this personal brand, you want it to say something positive about you.

Second, admissions officers read hundreds to thousands of essays each application cycle. It’s extremely easy for individuals to get lost in the mix. Writing an essay rooted in your strengths makes your essay (and, by extension, you!) stand out. When admissions officers remember you, it’s easier for them to advocate for your admission.

With that brief in hand, let’s get into the exercises.

Archetype Exercise

The first exercise for you to complete is called the Archetype Exercise.

So what is an archetype anyway? And how will they help you write your personal statement?

Across all of the college essays we’ve read, a few strengths stood out again and again. We turned these strengths into “archetype” profiles. Think of them like a personality test. Your values, experiences, and intellectual and personal preferences determine what archetypes you best align with.

Take this quick quiz to find your archetypes. Once you’ve got that down, return to this post and think through all the areas of your life—anecdotes with your family, personal achievements or challenges, extracurricular accomplishments and more—that showcase your archetype.

Writing an essay rooted in your archetype profile will help you write a personal statement that stays focused on concrete strengths. And archetypes make your college application even more cohesive by helping you decide how to allocate your strengths across your personal statement and supplemental essays.

Here’s an example.

Archetype results: Artist and Founder

Topic brainstorm:

  • Selling my winter crafts at the holiday market
  • Photographing flowers in my grandma’s garden
  • Learning about art history from my art teacher
  • Teaching arts and crafts at the local summer camp

By focusing first and foremost on your strengths, you can get inspired and weed through all the possible essay topics to find the perfect fit.

Stanford Items Exercise

The second exercise you can do is the Stanford Items Exercise. If the Archetype Exercise didn’t give you quite enough ideas, or if you just want more to work with, then the Stanford Items will help you brainstorm.

We developed the Stanford Items Exercise from a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University. The study had a lot of interesting findings. But for our purposes, it’s their content analysis (on page 21 of that document) that is most helpful. After analyzing thousands of personal statements, researchers used content analysis methods to compile a list of the most common college essay topics. Good college essay topics don’t have to be unique. In fact, some of the best personal statements are about the most popular topics.

Because of this, the Stanford Items can be a great jumping-off point to begin writing your personal statement because it’s essentially a huge list of personal statement topic ideas.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular. Look at the list and see what piques your interest, brings out ideas, or inspires you to write.

  • Winning competitions
  • Work and goals
  • Family members
  • Helping others
  • Group leadership
  • Language experiences
  • Computer science
  • Life reflections
  • New experiences

Check out page 8 of the study for the full list. 

Brainstorming Questions

If you’re still having trouble deciding on a topic, don’t fear! We’ve got you. Check out our list of the 25 best college essay brainstorming questions to get you thinking.

How to Format a Personal Statement

By this point, you should hopefully have completed the Archetype and Stanford Items Exercises. You may have also answered some brainstorming questions. With those under your belt, you should have at least a topic or two in mind. You’ve should also have thought a bit about your core strengths and how you can connect them to concrete experiences in your life.

All of that combined, you may have come up with a topic list that looks something like this:

  • The lessons I learned from babysitting my sister
  • What it was like to lose the big debate tournament
  • My interest in ecology
  • Helping my mom can vegetables every winter
  • Building my computer from scratch

Now, you could just jump into your essay at this point and start writing. Some people prefer that method. But many writers find that writing without a plan leads to a jumbled mess. And you don’t want your personal statement to be a jumbled mess.

To make your life easier, it’s probably best that you sketch out a plan. More specifically, it’s helpful to sketch out a plan that turns your topic into a narrative.

Whereas a topic is just an idea, a narrative is a roadmap. It’s how your readers will get from the beginning of your story to the end. It details all the twists and turns, those key moments, and the overall understanding your reader should take away.

To fit your topic into a narrative, you’ll have to think about the format of your personal statement.

Like all personal essays, personal statements have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. These elements are essential components of any narrative.

Here’s what each of those sections should do:

Introduction: The introduction always begins with what we call a “hook”—a single sentence intentionally written to grab a reader’s attention, compel them to keep reading, and give them an idea of what your essay will be about. The rest of the introductory paragraph sets the scene, introduces your reader to the central conflict of the essay, or establishes the story the rest of the essay will tell.

Unlike an essay for English or History class, you don’t necessarily have to end your introduction with your essay’s “thesis” statement. But your introduction should at least hint to your reader where the essay is headed.

Length: In a personal essay, your introduction is typically around one or two short paragraphs.

Body: The body of your personal statement is where all the excitement happens. It’s where you tell your story, detail anecdotes from your life, and craft your overall narrative. Importantly, your body paragraphs should also have at least a small level of personal reflection. Since the goal of a personal statement is to provide your reader with meaningful reflection on some part of your life, don’t save it all to the conclusion. Mix it in with your narrative.

Length: The body of your essay will likely be several paragraphs, depending on how long you want your paragraphs to be. But the body of your essay should be at least two paragraphs. Trying to cram all your information into one giant paragraph leaves your readers tired and confused—and you don’t want an admissions officer who is tired and confused.

Conclusion: Personal statement conclusions can be tricky to write. The goal of your conclusion is threefold: 1) to tie up any loose ends that the body of your essay didn’t resolve, 2) to meaningfully reflect on the overall message of your essay, and 3) to leave your admissions officers saying, “Wow, that was a great essay.”

Length: As long as your conclusion fulfills these goals, it can be as long as a few sentences or as short as a single sentence.

Once you have your story broken up into an introduction, middle, and conclusion, you can begin to get more granular.

That means plotting out your narrative in an outline.

The Three Most Common Personal Statement Outlines

Outlines give you an even clearer roadmap for your essay. If the basic format you laid out in the previous section is an old-fashioned map, then an outline is the detailed Google Maps directions that will get you there.

The good thing about college personal statements is that you’re not the first person to have written one. There are some standard narrative structures—ones that have proven to work effectively—that you can fall back on.

Finding the right essay structure is important for two reasons:

a) It helps you organize your ideas so you stay on track. An unorganized essay can go on too many tangents, lose its main point, and be ultimately confusing for readers.

b) Clear organization makes your overall theme more impactful and digestible for your reader. Organizing your story into a plot structure they’re familiar with can help you convey your message more clearly.

These narrative structures give you a basic outline within which to plot your own story. In this post, we’ll cover three of the most common ones.

  1. Upward Trending Growth

    A very common structure is one I like to call Upward Trending Growth. Since college personal statements are all about showing your maturity and insight to admissions officers, many students choose to take an “upward trending growth” approach to their college essays. Upward Trending Growth essays, as the name implies, are stories about how a writer has grown in a specific area of their life. These essays often contain explicit turning points and deep reflection about the meaning of the growth to the writer.

    The Upward Trending Growth outline can be an effective way to structure essays about family background, personal challenges, obstacles you’ve overcome, and more. It may work especially well for essays that respond to Common App prompts #2, 3, and 5.

    I. Introduction: You begin at Point A. Point A is in some way a “low” point from which you’ll need to grow. Your introduction describes what Point A looks and feels like as the “before” state.

    II. Middle: The difficulty grows, and the need to move from Point A becomes clearer. Then there’s a driving moment that sparks the climb from Point A to Point B. The transition may be difficult, but you show how you finally move from Point A to Point B.

    III. You reflect on the growth that occurred. You may also reflect on how that growth will serve you moving forward.

  2. Going on a Journey

    Essays that detail a personal journey are similar to Upward Trending Growth essays, but they aren’t necessarily about getting yourself out of a hole. They may be simply a journey of self-discovery, creativity, or education.

    Going on a Journey essays do exactly that: they bring your reader on a journey with you. This journey can highlight your strengths by showing how hard you’ve worked to cultivate them.

    If you want to write about your experience in a particular activity or your journey learning about one of your academic interests, then this essay outline might be the right choice for you. While it can work for many essay prompts, you might find it helpful for Common App prompts #1 and 6.

    I. Introduction: You begin in a place of discomfort or unease.

    II. Middle: You push yourself further out of your comfort zone. The discomfort gets worse. But there’s a turning point. You being to transform—you learn something new, see the world from a different perspective, or gain a new skill. After taking readers on through your journey with you, they begin to see who you are now as a result of this journey.

    III. Conclusion: You reflect on the journey, the changes you’ve made, and where you are now. You may even look forward to the journey that is still yet to come.

  3. Understanding Self Through Other

    Finally, another common personal statement topic is about how a person or object has influenced you. In particular, many students write about how a loved one has influenced them. Other students describe how a meaningful object in their life—a doll, car, or book, for example—shaped them or is in some way a reflection of who they are today.

    These essays can be effective ways to show multiple strengths at once. Not only do you get to represent the lessons you’ve learned from the “other,” but you also get to showcase the more personal side of your relationship to your “other.”

    If you’re writing about your experience canning with your mom, for example, you can show that you have an interest in the science behind canning at the same time you show your care and compassion as a son or daughter.

    The Understanding Self Through Other essay outline can help you translate this large sense of meaning into a concrete narrative. It works particularly well for Common App prompts #1, 4, and 7.

    I. Introduction: You introduce the person or object by opening with vivid details. The introduction makes it clear why they are important to you.

    II. Middle: You elaborate on the person or object and explain what your relationship is and why it’s important to you. The focus stays on yourself rather than the “other.” The reader truly gets a sense of how the “other” has impacted you as a person. There may or may not be an inciting incident that sparks some kind of change.

    III. Conclusion: You reflect on what your relationship with the “other” has meant for you.

(Want to see more personal statement example structures? Join the Essay Academy for exclusive examples and video content.)

Once you have your outline in place, it’s time to start writing. The first draft of your essay is simply about getting your words on paper. They certainly don’t have to be perfect. They don’t even have to be good. What’s important is that you start writing.

How to start a personal statement

What’s that saying? The only way to start is to start. In the case of college personal statements, that’s half true.

When you start writing, there’s really no other way but to just begin. For your own purposes, the best way to start is indeed to start. It’s likely that your topic won’t be perfect the first time around, that you’ll have to re-write and re-organize, and that you’ll have to do two or more drafts. So don’t worry about things being perfect as you begin. Just start.

However, when it comes to the actual beginning of your final personal statement draft, your first sentence shouldn’t start out willy-nilly. It should be one of—if not the—most intentional sentences in your whole essay.

You’ve been told your whole life that it’s important to make a good first impression. Your college personal statement is no different. That very first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, and it needs to pack a punch.

Good hooks catch a reader’s attention and keep it. They do this by plopping the reader right into your essay.

There are lots of methods for effective hooks, but I’ll break down three of the most common ways to approach personal statement hooks.

a) Rich description: Many personal essays hook the reader in with rich description. This is a great way to begin, especially if your essay is rooted in lived experience and if you’re a talented creative writer.

Example College Essay #8: The sun shone through my airplane window, hitting the tray table exactly right to reveal the greasy handprint of a child.

b) Proclamation: Another method is to make a proclamation related to your overall message. These are attention-grabbing because of their boldness. By saying exactly what you want your reader to know, you compel them to read on because they want to know how the proclamation came to be.

Example College Essay #7: "I had a stuffed animal named Elephant when I was a child.”

c) Intrigue: Hooking your reader with “intrigue” means writing a sentence that leads to more questions than it answers. This approach to an introductory hook can be a little risky, but it can be effective if your entire essay has a unique or distinct voice that parallels the intrigue.

Example College Essay #5: While some high schoolers get in trouble for skipping class, I get in trouble for arguing with my local government officials on Twitter.

How to end a personal statement

If you thought beginning was difficult, then get ready for concluding.

Thankfully, by the time you reach your conclusion, you’ll be a better, more practiced writer, ready to take on any challenge your essay throws at you.

Beginnings and ends are similar in many ways. They are two of the most intentional parts of a college personal statement. They both function to draw your reader more explicitly into your theme, and they give you the opportunity to ensure your message comes across loud and clear.

While your introduction has more of a creative, attention-grabbing function, your conclusion’s job leans more towards reflection. All good college essays contain deep reflection on your topic.

Let’s use the topics above as an example. An essay about canning vegetables with your mom isn’t just about canning. It could also be about your relationship with your mom, about the lessons of preparedness and slow living that you learned, or about the science of canning that intrigued you.

Similarly, your experience losing the debate tournament wasn’t a story of failure. It was an experience of resilience, good attitudes, and teamwork.

You can’t expect that your readers will understand your underlying message right off the bat. You need to do that reflection work for them.

This reflection should occur throughout your essay, but the conclusion is the place to drive it home. Good conclusions artfully resolve any remaining conflict and give you one last opportunity to make your case.

Let’s look at some examples.

Conclusion example 1 - from Personal Statment Example "Ann"

Going to college won’t mean leaving Ann. It will mean opening her world–and mine–to endless new knowledge and possibilities. She’ll grow and change, and so will I. When we reunite, we’ll smile our toothy smiles and embrace each other, our curly hair intertwining. We’ll sit at the kitchen table, focused and laughing, like nothing has changed.

Conclusion example 2 - from College Essay Example #6 "Fran's Flower Farm"

Three years ago, I would never have guessed that I’d own my own flower farm. It’s brought me so many joys, challenges, and friends. I know I won’t be able to bring my flower farm with me to college. But the heart of the farm is more than the flowers. It’s about me learning and using my skills to help others. Wherever I’m planted, I know that I will bloom.

Personal Statement Example: Kayaking the Missouri

The guide’s kayak thunked against the bank as we reached our destination. After three grueling days of paddling, we had navigated our way through nearly 50 miles of winding river. Emotions–pride, exhaustion, disbelief–welled up in me. I had waited my whole life to kayak the Missouri River, and I had gone farther than I’d thought was possible.((This sentence reflects subtly on the overall theme of the essay.))

I’d been fascinated with the Missouri River for as long as I could remember. The longest river in the country, it was also my first introduction to nature’s beauty. My parents took me on a camping trip alongside the Missouri when I was ten years old. At first, I hated the hot, sticky air and complained relentlessly about the mosquitoes. But soon enough, the sun began to set. I had never seen anything as beautiful as the dark blue-green water, the orange sun setting behind the nearby rolling hills. For days, I waded through the swampy, grass-covered bank, and I laughed manically with each fish that jumped. We returned to the Missouri River every summer.

When I had the opportunity to join a youth kayaking trip up the Missouri River, I immediately agreed.((This sentence reflects subtly on the overall theme of the essay.)) With twelve kayakers and two guides, the trip gave us all the opportunity to challenge ourselves. Kayaking along the river would give me an insider’s understanding of the river, one I’d never be able to see from the shore alone.

What’s most beautiful about the Missouri is the way it brings people together. Its wide banks and narrow corners present countless obstacles for the adventurers who dare to kayak there. As we worked together to negotiate its difficult passageways, we also negotiated working as a team. With no one but ourselves to rely on, we had to learn how to collaborate and overcome disagreements. Along the way, I also learned that part of being a team also means believing in yourself.((This reflection signals a shift in tone. As a reader, we understand that we’re about to learn how and why the writer struggled with self-belief.))

Our collaborative efforts came to head one night when we were close to camp. Our guides had mapped out a stopping point, and we had only a mile or two left to go. But the night arrived quickly. The wind blew in without warning. We were taken off guard. The river current started picking up, and we began to lose control of our kayaks. We had a decision to make.((The short sentences and descriptive language here add to the drama of the inciting incident.)) Most of the group members wanted to push on to our original campsite. But a few of us argued that continuing on would be too dangerous, that we could find a closer place to wait out the storm. Because the trip was a training program, the guides let us discuss on our own before intervening.

As one of the few proponents of finding a closer camp, I held my position. My summers along the Missouri meant that I had become adept at deciphering the weather. The thickening clouds, the purple hue of the sky, the buzz in the air all indicated that a storm was on its way. The more experienced kayakers tried to get me to concede. Heart racing, I pushed back. I knew that none of them knew the Missouri like I did. At last, the guides pitched in. They agreed with me. We calmly made our way to shore and found shelter nearby.

That decision kept us safe so that we could continue on. We made thousands of other decisions along the way, but to me, that decision was the most significant. It showed me that I can trust my own perceptions, and I felt proud of myself for not backing down.((This short paragraph serves an essential function in the essay. It is a moment where the writer explicitly reflects on the meaning of this story. Doing so helps us, the readers, understand the essay’s overall theme.))

Kayaking the Missouri River was like finding my way home, to the river and to myself. I learned that the trip wasn’t at all about the destination. It was about me, my fellow kayakers, and the long, flowing river. Now, as I plan to pack up my kayak for college, I begin to wonder what river I’ll learn from next.((This final sentence ties the essay together perfectly with a forward-looking perspective.))

Personal Statement Example Analysis

I don’t know about you, but I felt like I was kayaking right alongside this writer. The essay has wonderful imagery and clear organization. It offers insightful reflection that really helps the reader understand where they’re coming from.

Let’s take a closer look.

Strengths: Maturity, personal insight, teamwork

Archetype: Partner

What this essay does well:

  • The writer has a nice balance of description and reflection. Notice how each paragraph contains a little bit of each.
  • The narrative is well-organized. There is a clear beginning, middle, and end. We clearly understand what incident inspired change in the writer, and we understand how the writer moved from Point A (being less confident) to Point B (being more self-confident).
  • Since the purpose of a personal statement is ultimately to communicate to an admissions officer who you’ll be on their campus, this essay also does a nice job looking forward to the future. The conclusion ties this example in with who the writer will be in college and beyond. They’re ready for the next challenge, which leaves a positive impression on an admissions officer.

Overall, this essay is a well-written, clearly organized essay that transforms one of the writer’s extracurricular activities into a strengths-based reflection on how much they’ve grown.

And with this guide under your belt, you can write one, too! If you think more examples would be helpful in your writing journey, we have lots. Check out our personal statement, college essay, and Common App examples and analyses.

Final Thoughts

Personal statements for colleges ask you to complete an emotionally and technically difficult task. Balancing a vulnerable narrative with skilled writing is so challenging that most adults never even attempt to write another personal essay after completing their college applications.

But the process can also be a transformative and rewarding one. When done thoughtfully, your college personal statement is the perfect opportunity to reflect on your strengths, your life, your personal growth, and your future goals.

Giving admissions officers a window into your world will help them picture you on their campus and in their classrooms. A good, strengths-based personal statement will make admissions officers remember you and advocate for you.

While the process may require a lot of time and effort, hopefully following these exercises has helped you take control of the process to find what works best for you. As you’re continuing on your college application journey, the Admit Report Learning Hub will be with you every step of the way. And if you’re ready to take your college essays to the next level, the Essay Academy video course and community await!

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