College Personal Statement Writing Guidelines

Mar 19, 2021

How to write College personal statement

What is a college personal statement?

A college personal statement is an essay or write-up about you that will convey your personal and education story and all your achievements. Your college personal statement must define why the college should accept you.

Who will read your college personal statement?

The Admissions Officer/Team will read your college personal statement.

How important is a college personal statement?

Your college personal statement can well be a game-changer when getting accepted is competitive. If most applicants have similar tests and high school GPA scores, then, the Admissions Officer will pay even more attention to your college personal statement.

How to write a college personal statement to stand out in the crowd?

It may have been easy to write essays and compositions on various topics that your English teacher would have assigned in high school. But nothing ever prepares you to write about yourself – where do you begin?
The task of writing a personal statement for colleges seems even more daunting since you know that it can be a decider. So it can easily feel like the sword of Damocles hanging over your head.

But we’ve made writing a college personal statement fairly simple. Just follow our tips and you’ll most certainly be out of the woods.

Tips on how to write a college personal statement

1. Be the early bird

Start working on your college personal statement when you begin the admission application process. Do not defer it to the last minute. While preparing for TOEFL, SAT/ACT and scoring well is very important, you must begin jotting down points to help you get going subsequently when you are ready to put it together.

2. Set timelines

Although you will be aware for the deadline of submitting your application, you must set timelines/a timetable to prepare your personal statement so you are consciously aware of its significance and the effort involved in putting it together..

3. Understand the requisites of the college personal statement

Generally, the prerequisite of the personal statement for colleges differ.
The options will be:

  • To select from given topic options and write an essay 
  • Answer a set of questions
  • Discuss a topic

But all colleges will set a limit – either of characters or words. Or they may simply ask you to write a page. So it is very important that you are aware of how many words/characters you have available to present a winning case.

4. Organize all that you want to convey

Give coherence to your narrative so that it conveys your clarity of thought. You should do this as a preliminary task before getting down to writing your college personal statement.

5. Begin your college personal statement with a punch

Your college personal statement will be one in hundreds of applications so the Admissions Officer may easily lose interest if you don’t begin well. It’s similar to a story – if the opening line and paragraph don’t hold you, you will most probably toss it. 

6. Write spontaneously

When you are writing your personal statement for colleges, it’s best that you write like you are talking to someone. In doing so the reader will feel your voice even as he reads and the genuineness of your college personal statement will shine through.

7. Focus on your strengths

It is your strengths that you wish to hone when you pursue higher studies so it’s vital that you lay emphasis on your strengths – on how you’ve honed it this far and how studying at that college can further do so. Don’t try to portray yourself as a Jack of all trades and master of none. It’s pointless to put down a laundry list of things you accomplished through school to showcase your multi-talented persona.

8. Be truthful in your college personal statement

It’s best to state facts truthfully. There is no point in falsely claiming to know an extra foreign language for example to build your case. Deceit has a way of catching up with you sooner or later.

9. Write with vigor 

Your keenness should come through from the word go and keep the Admissions team engaged with your college personal statement. And be sure to write originally – using hackneyed words and phrases can make it dull.

10. Give proof of what you claim

Whenever possible, present examples of your abilities and strengths – if you are good in French, mention any awards or achievements you may have received.
Doing this will set you apart and make your college personal statement more believable.

11. Be upfront about any inconsistency in your statement

If your high school GPA is not consistent with your SAT/ACT scores, for e.g., be sure to explain why so that the Admissions team is aware of why it is so and aren’t left wondering about such contradictions.

12. Play by the rules – check the word count

After writing your personal statement for colleges, check if you are within the stipulated character/word count. If not, you must edit and ensure that you are within the stipulated limits. Most colleges put down guidelines to be followed while putting together your college personal statement. In following these instructions, you will project your ability to abide by the rules – something all colleges look for in prospective students.

13. Read it out loud

When you have completed your personal statement for colleges, read it out loud so you can hear how it sounds and also spot mistakes or inconsistencies in the narration. Then read it out to your family so they can give you their inputs too. 

14. Proofread and proofread and then proofread again

Be sure to read through your personal statement for colleges over and over again to be sure that it is error-free. And then hand it over to your family to do the same. A college personal statement with even a few errors can mar your chances of being accepted since it will convey that you aren’t attentive to detail.

15. Customize your college personal statement

Never send the same statement to all the colleges that you are applying to. While the basic content will remain the same, it is important that you modify it to meet the requirements of each institution so that it aptly conveys your keenness.

16. Take a break

Once you’ve completed editing, checking and re-checking your personal statement for colleges, it’s best to put it away for a bit. Give yourself a break and get your mind out of it. Then, look at it anew and see if you want to give it any final polishing touches.  After writing your personal statement for colleges, you can seek professional advice too. 

Watch this video on how to write a college personal statement:


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