The Personal Statement is a required essay (max. 650 word limit) when applying for college through the Common Application. You may choose from seven (7) prompts, one of which you can choose to create yourself, and respond to. This essay is a very important and influential part of your application, because it reveals information in the perspective of the student!
Importance of the Personal Statement?
The importance that lies on the personal statement is simply because it allows the admissions officers to get to know you in a manner that you want them too. This is the first impression of you as an applicant as it relates to your ideas and passions, so it is important that you take your time with this particular essay. The personal statement shows an insight into your personality, and it provides a clear picture to the colleges you are applying to! It is a wonderful opportunity to stray away from the quantitative and qualitative data that defines you on paper, and it provides a glimpse into who you really are. In hindsight it’s the admissions committee’s first impression on the real you.
Common App Essay Prompts
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, please share your story. 2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? 4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. 5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. 6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? 7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
It is highly recommended that you think NOT about the exact prompt, but more about what aspects of yourself are most worthy of highlighting. This is especially helpful for the last common app prompt, which allows you to write something of your choice. We recommend that you don't worry about what the prompt says, but try to answer some questions that you feel represent you the most, and something you would like each college to know when evaluating you as an applicant. Don’t worry about what the essay prompts ask.
What do you enjoy doing?
How do you spend your days whenever you are not doing schoolwork?
When you’re bored in class, what do you daydream about?
If you could change one thing about your childhood, what would you choose?
What problem would you most like to change in the world?
Who is your favorite and least favorite teacher and what are their biggest strengths and weaknesses?
The brainstorming process will definitely take a long time, but try your best to play with different prompts and questions until you feel you found something that connects with your intended essay. You will surely write drafts and drafts of your essays until you formulate a piece that is phenomenal, but please recognize that no person can write an extraordinary essay in one try. It takes writing on daily basis about yourself to truly paint a realistic picture of your values and qualities. Make sure that you elaborate on the ideas and experience you display in these essays, akin to the show don't tell rule. Also, please do not limit yourself to the 650 word limit at first. First drafts are most likely going to be long(600-1000 words), so it is much easier for you to cut away unnecessary or redundant material from that, rather than an essay that automatically is attributed to a specific limit. It is also important to understand that some students may benefit from reading other college accepted essays, and some may not. Therefore, please stick to the mode you feel most comfortable with.
"Any question that gets you thinking, is a question worth discussing".
When should I start writing my essay?
Try to start writing as early as you possibly can. Try to write your essays as early as in the summer of your junior year, or the beginning of your senior year. DO NOT, and I repeat DO NOT leave it until a few days before your deadline. Students will have a burst of energy at times, and some times you will experience some writer's block. The first time you write this essay, please try to write whatever comes to mind, and then go from there. If you absolutely and utterly hate that first try, do not hesitate to work on another prompt. This process is undoubtedly an individualistic one, some students may have a prompt that speaks to them immediately, and some may take many months until they find a prompt that suits them.
How Do I Know When My Essay Is Finished?
Once you’ve started writing your essay, it’s best to aim for at least three or four drafts of the essay until you polish it to best of your abilities AND you feel with utmost certainty that you would be proud to give this to an admission officer. But please make sure you proofread it, and you allow some other opinions on your essay. This does not mean that the select few who read your essay should change your voice! Understand that this essay should foremost be representative of your work at all times!
Is There Such Thing As A Perfect Essay?
The people in your life will most certainly remind you that there is no such thing as perfect essay. But there an essay that is well written, concise, and one that speaks to your values and character in a positive manner. This process is designed for you to take into account the various experiences and ideas that you have acquired throughout your lifetime, and simply put them on paper in a way that represents you the most. It will take multiple drafts until you stumble upon a polished version of your personal statement in which you could send to all your colleges, so you must always acknowledge that there is no such thing as a perfect essay while drafting these pieces.
First...please take some deep breaths. The personal statement is definitely challenging, so it is imperative that you take into account your well-being while writing this essay. In some circumstances, you may have no energy to write an essay at all. In contrast, in some cases you may have the most energy in the world. Thus, it is important that you balance these feelings and find a time and place in which you could wholeheartedly focus your efforts into the task at hand. It will be a grueling process, but it will truly be rewarding in the end. Try your best by playing with the various prompts and structuring them in unique ways, and you will definitely find a piece that works for you! Seek the help of your friends and mentors during this journey, and always maintain a good composure and mindset while completing these pieces. You are the authority of this paper, and you only. Make it count!