How To Write A Personal Essay For College

  • Write honestly
  • The personal essay is the applicants chance to write honestly and with humility about their accomplishments and professional aims and why they are applying to a particular school.

  • Engage the reader
  • The first paragraph has to grab the reader’s attention; it has to be a genuine statement about the applicant, which attracts the favorable attention of the reader.

    To do this the writer has to be interesting and engaging. If their lives so far seem to be very ordinary they have to capitalize on their achievements without being boastful and just listing accomplishments.  

  • An informed statement about this particular school
  • Put a real effort into answering as to why this particular school is the one the applicant wants to enter.

    This requires research into the school and its reputation for excellence. What are its strengths and advantages?

  • Be relevant
  • The applicant should avoid writing about high school because they have been there and done it and it really has little relevance to the professional school that they are now trying to enter.

    The aim of the personal essay is to reveal the applicant’s personality in a positive light. It is not a list of achievements and grades.

    The examining board wants to know who the applicant is and what has shaped their character. They want to be interested and amused but the applicant should not try to tell jokes.

  • State real core values
  • Religious and political statements and issues should be avoided although if one’s character has been shaped by religious belief it is part of who the applicant is and can be recorded.

    A statement of inner values is part of revealing the applicant’s character. A vision of the individual’s professional path

    The statement about why the applicant wants to be a doctor or a lawyer or a member of a particular profession needs careful crafting.

    It is too easy to write clichés about wanting to help people. The applicant should consider the question of why they want to pursue a particular profession and what they think they can contribute to it, very carefully. Every institution or professional school wants to hear this and if you get it right this is what will get you a place in the school.

    The applicant needs to have some vision of your professional goals which strikes a chord with those reading the personal essay because the applicant is joining a school which is a close knit community with shared professional goals, a little bit like a club, the applicant aspires to the same set of values and aims and it must be genuine in approach and not just a wish list.

    The writer of the personal essay is aspiring to be a pillar of society and needs to be inspired by a similar set of values.

    There may be two or three specific questions for the person to answer and these should be treated with honesty and positive application and without any kind of affectation.