How to Write a Personal Statement for College – A Guide and Checklist

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A personal statement for college is an essay that contains information about yourself to demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the college. There are no strict rules for writing a personal statement. This type of paper is arbitrary in form. Nevertheless, we have gathered some rules and a checklist that will help you if you don’t know how to write a personal statement for college.

College Personal Statement Format

There are two types of personal statements: non-structured personal statements, and ones in the form of interviews (or answers to specific questions). In a non-structured personal statement, the candidate provides information in a free form about himself or herself – achievements, personal qualities, interests, experience, and goals for the future. Personal statements in the form of answers to questions are often written by candidates who enroll in MBA programs. In this case, such a paper will consist of brief essay answers to certain questions.

The format of non-structured personal statements may be as follows:

Option 1: Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow

  • I have the necessary experience for successful study at the college
  • at the moment I want to get knowledge for further development
  • your program is ideal for this purpose, as I can achieve …

Option 2: I – You – We

  • my achievements, talents, and interests
  • the chosen program fully corresponds to my ambitions
  • my potential in combination with your program will bring the following benefits …

Option 3: What – Why – For What Purpose

  • what exactly I want to learn
  • why I want to study this particular specialty, what makes it so important to me
  • how the chosen program will help me achieve my goals, what I expect to get from it

How to Write a College Personal Statement

  • First, you need to take into account the requirements of the particular college. The fact is that some colleges request not one, but two personal statements on different programs. Some colleges require you to send only handwritten personal statements, indicating even the color of the ink. It is advisable to visit the official website of the selected college and read the requirements for personal statements.
  • The most interesting facts are best served at the beginning of the personal statement, or at least in the first part, because no one knows whether the selection committee wants to read the message to the end or not.
  • Remember consistency of narration: as the personal statement is read, the character in it must develop as a person in all spheres of life.
  • Divide the text into small paragraphs and avoid long intricate expressions. Each paragraph should have its own small story. It is also important to avoid complex participle clauses in order to avoid unnecessary mistakes and confusion with punctuation. Writing should be simple and clear, but it is quite acceptable to use highly specialized terms if the candidate understands their meaning well.
  • It is better to start an introduction with some original quotation or fact from life, in order to attract the reader’s attention and make them read the whole story to the end.
  • In the conclusion, you should summarize what was written and express hope for further cooperation with the college. After reading the personal statement, there should be a pleasant feeling – you should not describe any negative events or criticize yourself.

Advice on Writing a College Personal Statement

A personal statement is probably the hardest thing an applicant will ever have to write. In fact, everyone who starts to write a personal statement does it wrong. Everything that was taught at school in the matter of self-presentation leads, in this matter, absolutely not where it should be. By the way, here is a personal statement for college application example of the first paragraph:

I would like to enroll in the Fine Arts program because I am sure that my writing skills will be improved in your program. I will regularly perfect my skills and take into account the teacher’s advice.

This is a clear, direct appeal, which is directed just at the fine arts program. Is it really interesting? No. All of this is obvious and predictable.

The admission committee knows why entrants enter this program, because they reread lots of similar personal statements from applicants every day. Also, the commission knows that the student’s skill “will be improved,” since the college has a strong program and, of course, he or she will accept the challenges – they will be accepted by everyone, regardless of their educational level. And of course, students will hone their skills, because this is the main goal of the program.

A Checklist for Writing a Personal Statement

  • Text organization. Make sure that your personal statement has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion and that they are properly structured.
  • A “hook” which demonstrates the passion of the applicant to the selected subject. Your introduction should grab the reader’s attention.
  • The logical connection of the motivation of the applicant with his or her achievements. Do not put emphasis on motivation based on monetary reasons only.
  • Description of achievements in the selected subject. Your desire to enter a college should be logical and supported with examples from practical experience (helpful for becoming a doctor, teacher, engineer, etc.)
  • Special and additional courses in the subject. You may write what additional courses you are also interested in.
  • Extracurricular activities in the selected area. Here you can write about sports, your work at community service, your employment, or anything else related to the chosen field.
  • Publications and other professional achievements in the direction (reports). This will greatly enhance your chances to be accepted.
  • Explanation of the reasons why this particular college was chosen. Speak about the college you are applying to if it is mentioned in the requirements.
  • The mentioning of specific college professors, in whose works the applicant is interested. It will show that you are highly interested not only in the chosen college, but in their staff, who will give you additional points.
  • Features of the college program that attract the applicant. Write what exactly is interesting for you in the chosen program.
  • Proofreading and correction of material. Be ready to write your paper scrupulously and edit it a million times! Seriously – no joke. A million times.

How to Show Passion to the Chosen Subject in a Personal Statement

For a successful personal statement you need the so-called “hook.” For example, one student of the program in library science made an excellent hook, and it looked something like this:

When I was 11 years old, my grandmother Gretchen died and left me something that changed my life – a library of 5,000 tomes. Some of my best days were spent reading and organizing her books. Since then, I wanted to become a librarian.

Everything is clear and straightforward, the personal statement tells the commission what constitutes the main part of the girl’s life – not only a long passion for reading books, but also caring for them. When members of the commission start discussing the best examples, they will surely remember the “girl with her own library,” because to receive such a gift at the age of 11 would be a cherished dream for each of them!

And what if the first paragraph was written like this:

I am glad to apply for the library science program because I have loved reading books all my life. From 11 years old I knew that I wanted to become a librarian.

Surely the admission committee will not remember this student among the other 500 applicants whose personal statements they read. More than half of the personal statements probably start with something like this. Many applicants write about “a love of books,” but this phrase sounds impressive only until you read it a couple hundred times.

When you need to write a personal statement, our guide with a checklist will help you. You can begin writing your statement without any problems if you take into account our advice. Buy if you don’t have time to do this on your own, get our writing help. Each applicant needs to present an interesting personal statement, and our writers can write such papers.