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How To Write A Great Personal Statement

Now that the 2018-2019 college application season is underway, students are thinking hard about how they want to present themselves in their personal statements (sometimes known as the college essay).  They often ponder questions such as, “Should I be funny?  What are the colleges looking for?  Should I mention my LD?”  These are all excellent questions to consider when writing your personal statement. Here are four tips to help you write your best personal statement.

1. Choose a topic you’re passionate about!
If you are excited about your topic, your readers will be also.  Do you love logic puzzles, building sand castles, science fiction?  Your passion and interest in the topic will come through in your writing and will help you stand out from the rest.  Also, if you’re interested in your topic, you will be able to write your personal statement more easily!  

Remember also that as a student with a learning difference you may choose to write about your learning style in your personal statement, which is just fine, but you may also choose to write about something else, which is also fine  There are ways to mention your learning profile without making it front and center in your personal statement if you have other passions and interests that you feel are more important in helping a college understand who you are.
Sometimes a “regular” event in your life can serve as a great essay topic. Often times, students try hard to think of monumental things that have happened to them and often get stuck on finding a worthwhile topic. The essay topic does not need to be monumental; it needs to be personal.

2. Write an engaging first sentence and proofread!
Your personal statement is an opportunity to tell your reader a story about yourself – what is important to you, what struggles you may have had, what surprises have come along in your life etc.  An engaging first sentence encourages your reader to keep on reading with excitement and curiosity.  Remember, college admissions folk read lots of these so take this opportunity to make your personal statement interesting and reflective of who you are!  Also, colleges want to gain a better understanding of how you write.  Writing clearly and concisely is a big part of this.  Ask for help if you need/want it!

This may sound obvious and self-explanatory but remember to proofread and read your personal statement out loud.  Reading out loud can help you “hear” mistakes and can also help identify areas for improvement. 

3. Showcase yourself!
The personal statement takes you from being your GPA and/or test scores to being a living and breathing awesome person.  Have fun and showcase your personality!   Are you an artist?  Take an artistic approach?  More serious and methodical, show that.  Being yourself is actually what the personal statement is all about.  Colleges want to know who you will be when you arrive on their campus so give them a glimpse!  You are a three-dimensional person!  Don’t be afraid to show that.  

4. Ask for help!
Sterne is filled with people who want to help you make a smooth transition from high school to college!  Make an appointment with Ms. Field, get support from Ms. Garcia, ask Ms. Myers for clarification about ACT/SAT testing and accommodations, touch base with Mr. Brewer for honest advice and observations, and don’t forget about your parents and guardians.  Help and support is plentiful here at Sterne so practice your self-advocacy skills and just ask!  

Submitted by: Rebecca Field, Sterne School College Counselor