Three Ways You Can Improve Your Personal Statement

by Sara Vazquez Shaw

There are many challenging elements to preparing your college application. For many students, though, writing a personal statement ranks as one of the most challenging. On a few sheets of paper, you must name your most likeable traits, past experiences, extracurricular activities, future plans, and reason for wanting to attend a particular college. That's a lot of information to condense into a short essay! The goal is to avoid bragging or sounding indecisive. To make this process less gruelling, here are a few tips on how to create a memorable personal statement:

1. Use Examples

Admissions committees see thousands of applications, so many personal statements may sound quite similar to them. Stand out from the crowd by letting your statement show your personality, values, hopes, and passions. Don't go on and on about yourself; rather, leave the impression that you're being genuine. A good way to do this is by livening up your essay with specific examples. You don't have to use long, drawn-out stories. Mention well-placed anecdotes of how you took action to reach a goal or were personally inspired by someone. This can be a powerful tool for catching the committee's attention.

2. Break it up with Short Paragraphs

You may have a lot to say. Your personal statement could be brilliant, but a bunch of run-on sentences and rambling stories are sure to detract from that. Write in short paragraphs and pay close attention to sentence structure. Read and re-read your essay out loud to yourself until the words flow smoothly and you've gotten rid of awkward phrases or poor grammar. In addition, be sure to check spelling thoroughly. First impressions are lasting; a committee will likely disregard a student's application because of poor grammar and spelling errors.

3. Talk about the School

The statement you're writing is a personal one, but it's important to remember that it's not all about you. You are sharing who you are with the admissions committee, but you should also talk about the school and what attracted you to it. Do some research into the programs that are of interest to you, and spend some time talking about how they could enhance your college experience. Lastly, note what qualities would make you an ideal candidate for the school or program to which you're applying. End by reiterating how your attendance at the institution will figure into your post-college plans and prospective career.