The word ‘personal’ is used in many contexts. Personals ads, personalized products, personal space, telling people ‘That’s personal.’ – none of these are helpful in figuring out what it means to keep your college personal statement ‘personal’. Personal in what way? While you’ll often hear advice on how important this is, it is difficult to find information on how exactly to accomplish this.
For this reason, many applicants just skip this altogether and create a college personal statement that is really just their resume in literary format. This type of essay offers little value to the admissions officers. After reading it, they’re no wiser to who you are as an individual or how good of a match you are for their program. Others go to the opposite extreme, telling stories that are not appropriate for the admissions process. This can make admissions officers uncomfortable, just as it would for any person to pour their heart out to a stranger. Moreover, it can make you seem like a person who does not have good boundaries, and this can greatly hurt your chance of receiving an acceptance letter.
Although it is important to include details from your life, all of the detail, anecdotes, and examples that you use in your college personal statement should be highly focused and relevant to the college admissions process. While the fact that your family’s move from one side of the country to another may have been the most significant event in your life, it is not necessarily the one that will best help the admissions committee. Even though the children at your new school may have taunted you and generally made your life miserable, that type of story is far too negative for your college personal statement. Also, it is focused on others and their wrongdoing. Your personal statement should convey information about you, your goals, and your successes thus far.
For your college personal statement, you will need to select the accomplishments that have the most meaning to you and best express your individual strengths and character. Writing about taking a leadership role in a team environment and taking that team to new heights will have much more significance than just writing that you were the president of five different organizations. By offering insight into your achievements, you will have a college personal statement that helps the admissions committee get to know you as a unique person.
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