How do I start my college personal statement essay?
Now is a good time to start brainstorming ideas for your Personal Statement. Not all Colleges request a personal statement, but the majority does. The Common App has released the prompts for the 2015-2016 application years. There are five topics to choose from, and I strongly urge each student to think about this for a few weeks.
Brainstorm with your family or friends, and try to keep your ideas to your recent years. It is okay to reference something remarkable in your past that led you to a transition or pivotal point in your life that exemplifies who you are today.
Are any of the prompts preferred by colleges? No. All of the prompts, as you will notice, focus on YOU and what you have encountered or done that has made you the person you are today.
How do you compose the essay? How long should it be? Is it okay to create a topic of my choice instead of the prompts?
- When you sit down to write, make an outline first. Focus on five or six key points that you want to get across. Think of one or two personal anecdotes that demonstrate the topic of your essay. It is not wise to have many stories rather than some personal sharing of your thoughts. The essay can be somewhat conversational in tone, but not dialogue or overly casual or personal.
- The essay should not exceed 650 words. 550 to 650 is the ideal range. It is okay to initially write a couple of pages, and then set about to edit it back. If you need support, please contact me, I am only too happy to support your efforts.
- You cannot create your own essay topic. You must select one of the topics offered. For those schools you apply to not using the Common App, there are also defined prompts on the Universal Application also has suggestions as to the essay topic.As do all colleges that are not using either of these standard application forms. You can check by college and essay prompts for admission when you search. Colleges want to learn how you have become who you are!
Some topics I have seen over the years, all of which were very well done and effective:
A student who felt strongly influenced by her piano teacher;
A student who overcame his shyness by getting his pilot’s license;
A student who did not have her hair grow into until she was seven years old;
A student who created her own business and website supporting animal rescue;
A student who created an outreach support for earthquake victims;
A student who gained a sense of independence why traveling on a community service trip to Costa Rica,
A student who learned how to make his dyslexia into a challenge of pride,
A student who felt strongly about organ and tissue donation,
and a student who developed confidence by taking a public speaking course.
I am sure you have some great ideas and experiences, if you want some advice, you can certainly contact me, and I am happy to offer if it would be a great college essay topic!