What Do Colleges Look for in Your Personal Statement or College Essay?

What Do Colleges Look for in Your Personal Statement or College Essay?
The personal statement is your chance to "wow" the college admissions committee. You can discuss anything that is not shown on another part of your college application. Are there things that college admission officers might like to ask you after reviewing your application? Schools like to read about what you have accomplished in your life and how you will add to their college campus. They want to know what makes you tick.
The personal statement gives you an opportunity to talk about what's important to you. Writing about yourself can be difficult, but once you get an idea of how to write a good essay, you will have less trouble. College admissions committees want to find out about your goals and values and what you have discovered from your experiences. They are interested in applicants who are self-starters, ethical, and genuine.

Students often look at the personal statement and have no idea where to start. It is best if you can write down some thoughts and brainstorm what you could discuss about each of them. When answering the personal statement prompts, it is wise to show, not tell. Think about examples from your experiences that will tell a story about you. This gives you an opportunity to show your individuality, perception, and motivation. It is easy to try to tackle too much, so you must narrow down your focus.

College admissions committees may have thousands of essays to read through, so making yours unusual gives them something unique to read and a new interest in learning more about you. I once heard a group of admissions officers talking about a student who had just been accepted and how they would always remember her from her personal statement.

If a college application gives you a particular prompt, make sure you write on that topic and not something else. If you are given a word limit of 500 words, you need to see that you do not go over that number. Colleges want you to write concisely. Some questions may seem somewhat alike, but the intent behind them could be quite different. Write your personal statement keeping each school in mind as you do. In other words, one essay usually needs to be adapted to each school.

Writing a personal statement can be scary and students often procrastinate as long as they can before beginning. That is why I suggest you start well before the due date in order to not be rushed and so you can make your final draft a quality essay. Don't expect to write your personal statement in one day. It takes time to brainstorm and do the number of drafts that are usually required. Have someone else review your writing for its content, interest, and overall clarity. Listen as they read for awkward sentences or words that don't sound appropriate. Above all, do at least several drafts, rewrite, and proofread for spelling and grammar issues.

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