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College Essays

Writing Your College Essay

Your essay is an opportunity to share your thoughts, insights and opinions; to highlight your accomplishments and to convey your outlook on life. This is your chance to set yourself apart from other students.  Some colleges require specific essays that are on topics of their choice. They will give you these prompts. Other colleges require more general personal statements.

The following ideas are to help you find appropriate topics, styles and tones for your personal statements.

A personal Statement should ...

  • Show you as a unique individual within the context of your family, school, community and the world at large.
  • Show the difference between you and other applicants who may have similar academic records.
  • Provide information that may not be evident in other parts of your application.
  • Allow you to explain how factors outside of your school environment have enhanced or impeded your ability to maximize academic opportunities.

Personal Statements often include ...

  • Your academic record, accomplishments and activities.
  • Unusual circumstances, challenges, or hardships you have encountered and how you have overcome them.
  • Motivation, leadership, persistence, service to others (volunteering) and experience with other cultures.

Tips for Success

  • Be clear, focused and organized. Follow a logical structure. Think about how it may seem to the reader who doesn't know you.
  • Be careful with humor and cliches. What might seem funny to you might not seem that way to someone who doesn't know you. Don't allow cliches to speak for you.
  • Do not make up hardships.
  • Use examples to illustrate your ideas. Show initiative with concrete examples of demonstrated motivation and leadership.
  • Show how you have grown from your experiences. Prove who you are, where you are going and how you are going to use your education and your experiences to accomplish your goals through written examples.

For additional information on College Essays

College Board Big Future

Statement of Purpose