Writing a Personal Statement: What’s It All About?

Last updated on November 15, 2017

High school students have incredibly busy schedules: classes, extracurricular activities, time with friends, parties, even obligations with your (gasp) family.

Throwing a bunch of college applications on top of all that can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to writing your personal essays, arguably the most time-consuming and challenging part of the entire application process.

Though high school certainly gives you plenty of opportunities to write many different types of papers, the college admissions essay can almost feel like its own unique form of writing.

Personal

Unlike the research-based or analytical writing you might be used to, the college essay is a personal account of something important to you. It is often based on a personal experience or something that changed your frame of mind permanently – ideally, it’s an experience that many others don’t have in common with you.

After all, your goal of the college essay is to show what makes you.

The story can answer any number of possible questions for the admissions officer, but above all, it will express something about who you are, and, hopefully, it’ll make it possible for that admissions officer to remember your application.

Unique

When you’re writing, it can be great to get feedback from a friend or teacher, but don’t overdo it.

Don’t let your essay be written “by committee.”

If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one. Make sure that the voice is yours and the odd, unique elements of it are left in.

So instead of getting notes from everyone you know, it can be better to find one person you trust who’s not a family member or close friend (because you ultimately want to know how people who don’t already love you will interpret your essay), and let that person be your sounding board throughout the process.