The most dreaded part of the college admissions process is the personal statement. It is essentially an open-ended question that allows you to write about almost anything. With this freedom, the options are endless; in some cases, “beginning-less.” So what should you write for your personal statement? I often hear students tell me “nothing interesting has happened in my life.” Well, the same is true for tens of thousands of students who applied and were accepted into college. Your best bet is to think of a story that is unique to you – no one else played catch with your father on Friday nights (example).
One great new resource helps students get some ideas and understand the structure, syntax, and topics that make for a successful essay. Acceptional (www.acceptional.com*) provides students with access to hundreds (if not thousands by now) of essays written by current students at top schools. These essays were obviously successful as these students are now enrolled at Harvard, Stanford, Northwestern, and others. You will notice that the topics vary from personal stories to commentary on policy. All, however, give the admissions officer a great sense of the writer’s personality.
As a high school student or parent, you are able to search through Acceptional’s database of essays by key demographics. If you want to find an essay from Princeton, or an author from your state, or someone who worked all through high school, you can search for these.
After reading a few sample essays, students begin to feel confident that they can write a solid essay and begin to form ideas. This certainly is not the end of their struggles, but is a good first step.
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