Your essay is the deciding factor between your acceptance and rejection — one crucial thing that makes you stand out from the other applicants with similar profiles.
Life is going great, the weather is good, you are happy with your family and friends, then your admission process begins. Within no time, you encounter that dreaded and disheartening personal statement.
It does not matter if anyone uses the Common App, the Coalition Application, or a college-specific application; many people are bound to encounter that personal statement. You must be wondering that the personal statements are unsettling; what I am about to tell you is crucial, i.e., the most beautiful personal statements will begin with the small moments from your life. And don’t be anxious, mostly these moments are from your everyday life like hanging out with your friends, meal with your family and so forth.
What exactly is a personal statement?
In layman’s terms, your personal statement tells something about who you are in a person, which cannot be found in your resume or transcript.
After this point, people start questioning if the personal statement will be the same on all applications? The particulars of personal statements can vary depending on the application.
For colleges and universities:
Keep your college application as a whole, your personal statement, application answers, and supporting documentation together must tell a story about who you are as a person. Also, make sure you are not repetitive with your personal statement.
For instance, if you have to answer three questions and submit a personal statement, they shouldn’t focus on playing football.
It must specify why you deserve the scholarship. Here, make sure to write your essays according to the scholarship goals.
Essay 1 by Rachel. R - Cornell University
New York City, 7 pm. Friends are having fun in the next room around the dinner table as I try to lash something up. I keep the water to boil, adding salt. While waiting, something unusual happens, the steam starts to twist, twirl, wadding up the kitchen. I stopped to wipe the sweat from my brow.
In the morning, at seven o’clock, my shirt is already moist. Sweat comes down my face. A usual morning in Perugia.
It starts, I sauté the garlic in olive oil on high flame.
The grit in the driveway crunches and cracks, “E’ arrivato zio Mario!” I start running barefoot, about to trip down the stairs, all the way to his car, my arms outstretched. The first thing I notice, his hair, grayer this year. Four lost hair falls over his tanned face like they wanted out from other hair.
His hands are resting on his belt, minor injury on one finger above the joint. I wear my boots, and he climbs onto the tractor. He tugs me onto his lap, holding me tightly. The tractor roars, an olive branch lightly grazes my face, the grasshoppers go silent.
In the back of the field, long till your eyes can see, sunlight falling on every tree and plant, Mateo climbs up a ladder like a baboon and starts trimming the tips of the branches, the Polloni. While enjoying their smell, I gather them and pile them in heaps. It is a great year. The trees are brimming with olives this year.
Dice the blood-red tomatoes, put them with garlic to simmer, add salt, Indian masala, chili powder, and pepper. It is noon, the sun scorching, the wind has almost stopped; I walk back towards the pinkish house to find my Nonna in the garden, wearing a red-flowered apron. She speaks softly, saying Puoi portarmi il cestino un po’ più vicino? “Can you bring that bucket a little closer?” She fills the bucket with juicy red tomatoes, a different treat in themselves.
Put the pasta, stir fresh basil into the tomatoes with olive oil. Nonna says, vedi si devono prendere quelli pieni di fiori, così la pianta può crescere. “Check out we have to put the ones with the most flowers so that the plant can grow easily.” We climb a steep, small, beautiful hill with a full bucket of pomodori. It’s warm.
Chop the mozzarella, strain the pasta, pour the red sauce over them, and add the mozzarella.
While following Nonna into the kitchen, I try to avoid the gang of uncles and aunts. It is always tempting, I have to put some mozzarella in my mouth, and it melts in my mouth; a smooth, creamy flavor that makes me high. I thought I did it without anyone noticing, but as I turn around, “Rachel, can you set the table? And please stop eating all the mozzarella!” They caught me again. I take the hot pot with mittens and step outside. The neighbor’s dog wiggles his tail after seeing me.
Serve right out of the pot. “Hey, ladies,” I call over their giggles, “help me set the table; dinner is hot and ready!”
Why this kind of Essay helps you in getting admission
The end goal of a college essay is simple, i.e., to unveil who you are as a person. Your everyday life with friends, like a spaghetti dinner, can say a lot about your nature and personality. Rachel takes us into two moments from different parts of her life, steps of a recipe and moments with friends.
Here comes the exciting part, while doing so, Rachel removes all interpretations and judgments from her writing. She never mentions a lesson she learned or tells us about her characteristic. Remember, when you say to the reader what to think, they lose the ability to connect with you.
Instead, Rachel gives us small details, conversations, and descriptions, which helps the reader know her better. From stealthy eating of mozzarella to a discussion in Italian with her Grandma to the definition of her uncle with a finger injury above the joint, Rachel provides us with loads of details that distinguish her story from others and make it impossible to forget.
Essay 2 by Jackson. H- The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
“Not how long, but how well you have lived is the main thing.”
As Priya always reminds me, how beautiful it is to travel, traveling allows us to explore who we really are deep inside. Travelling allows us to involve and awaken ourselves from visiting new places, meeting a whole different type of people, understanding their culture and community while trying different kinds of food.
Here and there, I look for tools to help in my travel—strong ropes, candles, a compass, open-mindedness, modesty, drive, curiosity—and clarity; these all are crucial for me and my journey into the future.
At twilight, after a heavy day of traveling in the Himalayas, walking along with the picturesque market, and contemplating the spiritual significance of India’s glorious history in the blistering cold, my couple of my friends and I decided to end the day by celebrating our western culture at the nearest McDonald’s.
The gloomy cold night had sent everyone like beggars and hawkers into the warm night restaurant. The meek look on employees’ faces clearly suggested that this was not the first time it was happening. People were sitting or sleeping on every chair and bench. Our only option left was the floor; we found a space in the middle of the room like a Bermuda triangle where no one wanted to go.
We ordered extra wraps and burgers, and just after a few, one by one, the street beggars got up and asked us to share. We all looked at each other with a blank face. We then decided that they would also join our circle. At first, they hesitated. As we revealed our broken Hindi, they started giggling, now they were relaxed and challenged us at a game like Kismat, where you throw dice around and score in high multiples.
Next, some young Western and Indian kids joined in. Evolved generation at languages and breaking social barriers, this kid took the game to a whole new level. We spent the nights on the floor sleeping in our sleeping bags and ended up under the scornful stare of the confused McDonald employees. In the end, our American wraps gave us an authentic taste of India.
Not how long, but how well you have lived is the main thing. Whether it was acting the part of a professional fund manager when interviewing the executive board of major corporations or tutoring Himalayan children in English, the Waldo within me improvises, adapts, challenges himself, and explores something new about the people around him.
I never know where life will take me next? My friends told me about a platform of intellectual and cultural exchange that brings fascinating minds worldwide. The establishment is praised for its ability to convey wisdom and experience through round tables of interaction. It is a place where, as my American family and friends would say, “finding passionate people is easier done than said.” In other words, it is a beautiful page to be on, wholly invisible and exceptional at the same time.
Why this kind of Essay helps you in getting admission
With an event like, “Where is Waldo?” It is easy to get lost in your ideas. The two major mistakes students make writing college essays are staying too specific and writing about thoughts rather than actions. Jackson avoids this by becoming Waldo.
This story technique allows him to tell the narrative through his different perspective and in a creative tone.
Jackson uses a subtle moment to show who he is. The night spent at McDonald’s gives the reader reasons to believe in Romain as a person and community member. We see Jackson as a modest, wise, and curious person who brings people together and welcomes the opportunity to teach and learn. In the fourth paragraph, he gives the audience the scope of his experiences, and the fifth paragraph makes a connection to the University of Chicago. However, his essay’s heart is the third paragraph, which takes the reader into a moment and gives powerful details that reveal his character.
The Big Question; I have got my personal statement topic. But how exactly to frame it?
Get ready to write your own personal statement—three essential things to follow.
1. Strong writing
Grammar is essential, but it is crucial to write with storytelling, small details, descriptions, and conversations instead of explication, generalizations, and trite phrases.
2. Unique perspective
While learning a critical lesson, focus on specific moments, your change in a fundamental will make a difference in others’ lives to reveal your character strengths and weaknesses through your actions.
3. Authentic voice
Tell your story out loud and clear to capture your authentic voice—the unique quirks that make you! A well-known word called “mirroring” is termed by Psychologists, and it is a scientifically-proven way to connect with others.
Make sure you do not over-edit your essays. It might not sound right, and you will lose your personal identity.
After grades, your essays are going to be the crucial part of your college application. The essays mentioned above will give you a good foundation as you begin to write your personal statements.
4. Speak like you
Make sure your personal statement is in an authentic tone that reflects who you are. In personal statements, there is no right or wrong tone; your tone must represent you.
In particular, not using big words, show off is a big no. Just imagine how it feels like when someone brags too much; yes, I know it is silly.
5. Hit the length
Keep within the required length. If you aim for 500 words, you are thriving. Different universities or scholarship applications will allow you to write up to 600 or 650 words.
Once when you have completed your personal statement. Save the document in an easy to find place. Then step away from your computer, take a break, relax your mind and then edit appropriately with a fresh mind and mood.
7. Ask someone else to edit it too
Try asking your friend, teacher, or family member to read your personal statement before submitting the document. A new mind and different perspective will help you get a second opinion on your writing quality, tone, and overall representation of who you are in your personal statement.
8. Be brave, and hit that “submit” button.
Finally, when everything is complete, do not overthink about it, do not hold! Click submit.