Right about now, you may be thinking that a root canal would be preferable to writing those personal statement essays. But you can’t get your grad school application in without them, and that deadline is approaching. Time to strap yourself in and just do it. And if you are unsure about how to do it, then read on.
Obviously, a personal statement will be somewhat autobiographical and will address some event, circumstance, goal or value that you will relate in response to a prompt. It is your opportunity to highlight accomplishments or values, to describe events that have impacted who you are and what skills and talents you have today. That is as close to a definition as is possible, because the essence of the content of each essay will be quite different. Personal statement writing is, well, personal.
While you do not have complete freedom in the selection of topics for your personal statement essay, you will have options. And, usually, these options are divided into two categories, and you will be asked to select one from each category. There are two big things that you must consider in your topic selection:
If you are really unsure about how to write a personal statement essay, then this guide will be your “Bible” as you go through the process.
“I don’t want to think of myself as a murderer, but now I knew I must become one.” Wow – any reader is going to continue reading after this first sentence. Actually, this was the beginning of a personal statement essay related to problem-solving skills, and the student’s problem was how to get rid of a fly that was buzzing around in her room while she tried to work. Essays like this one win because they are unique and really engaging.
Here’s a short list of some things to remember:
Feel free to experiment with different structures if you think they will work. One student who selected his mother as having the qualities he admired in a leader, wrote a list of those qualities and showed how his mother, who had 8 kids to keep organized, exhibited skills such as setting schedules and timelines, delegating task responsibilities, exhibiting authoritarian skills when decisions had to be made quickly or a democratic style when there was time for everyone’s input. His essay as a winner too.
Most of the common mistakes are listed above, but let’s just repeat them.
Personal statement essays that impress are well thought out, creatively written, and focused precisely on the selected prompt. Make sure yours is a winner.
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