Right now in America, a debate is on – are students taught to become individual thinkers and writers, or are they failing to express themselves uniquely and eloquently? This fascinating Learnist board tracks Why American Students Can’t Write. But whether or not you agree with that statement, you’ll have to write at least one 500-word personal statement to get into college. Don’t put off your college applications until you have a great SAT score! The application process and the SAT studying go hand-in-hand. So even if you feel like you “can’t write,” you can take the time to get your 500-word personal statement/s in shape with these handy application tips!
Individualize your essays. Don’t just write one blanket statement for every program, unless you’re working on the common app. The best undergraduate degree programs want to know why you want to study at their specific school. The questions they ask will differ slightly from application to application. While you can tweak a strong essay to fit almost any prompt, make sure you are including the specifics of each program in your essay.
Show, don’t tell. Make sure you don’t repeat any information from any other part of your application. Don’t just tell them about your accomplishments or present a recitation of your skills. Show them part of your personal story that led you to choosing their graduate school. Don’t make it cliché or saccharine, but also don’t be afraid to use the first-person “I” and be emotionally revealing. Depth is always better than breadth.
Keep revising! Try writing a few different outlines before you begin. Expect that it will take you awhile to find the story you want to tell, and enjoy the process. Have trusted friends or family members read your essay and give you feedback. If possible, contact old faculty advisors and teachers and ask their opinions. Once you’ve finished your essay, go back and re-read the specific question of the prompt. Make sure your essay is truly on-topic. This tip is also mentioned on the Writing Your Admissions Essay article from Learnist.
Once you’ve mastered the essay, check out the Becoming a Successful Student to check out great resources for time-management, study, and writing tips for incoming freshman.