I'm not one to brag, or usually even congratulate myself on most things, but I wrote a pretty darn good personal statement, considering it got me into nearly every college I applied to (the exception being the most selective institution in the country, shucks).  

  • Here are some tips for when it comes to writing the perfect personal statement, which is arguably the most important part of your college application.

1. Be concise, interesting and relevant.

No one wants to read a three-page essay on your debilitating fear of your basement as a child when the prompt asks for your creative solution to a community issue. 

2. Talk about something that is meaningful to you, or that you are passionate about.

The readers will know if you really care about what you are saying.

3. Start early and edit often.

There is a direct correlation between time spent procrastinating and poorness of quality when it comes to creating things on a deadline. Review your essay several times, and don't be afraid to "kill your darlings," as an English teacher of mine would say, and cut out sentences that you may love but take away from the cohesiveness of your essay.

4. Don't try to pick the most impressive-sounding essay topic or embellish on your story.

The admissions staff read through thousands of submissions, so they can pick out the fake essays very quickly, and your lack of authenticity will likely cause them some concern as they consider your place in their university. 

5. Don't try to sound too fancy!

Using big words incorrectly or inverting your syntax to read like Shakespeare takes away from the integrity of your statement. Just write the way you speak and the rest will come naturally.

6. Don't let anyone else edit your personal statement, but let them help you.

I was very protective of my essay, spending hours cultivating it into what I thought was the perfect 650-word masterpiece. However, this could have horribly backfired since I did not get a second opinion. You have intelligent and honest teachers, family,and friends who are more than willing to help you find your voice and share your story in the most effective way possible. Use your resources. 

7. Be yourself.

If you are genuine in your personal statement, it shows. Colleges are searching for unique individuals to hand out their coveted spots to, so don't try to fit any certain profile – you'll come off as fake. Take the time to refine your personal essay and shape your voice. This is the best advice I can give you to be successful.

Here is an excerpt from my essay for you to read as an example of what one should look like, and to hopefully get your creative juices flowing:

I am a quantitative entity. Throughout my entire life, I have been defined by a set of numbers. From the number on my birth certificate to the grade I got on a math test this week, they have always represented me…well, a watered-down, inhuman version of me...Band has always been my escape from the numbers, although, ironically, we count for hours at time. Each set on the field is numbered (1-85) and even my body is labeled with a number in the drill (C2). When I am in band, I am a valuable individual in flesh, not merely in a computer. I am part of a microcosm of life—an organic art form expressed on a football field, of all places...Band frees me from my prison of numbers, one 8-count move at a time.

Being something of a perfectionist when it comes to schoolwork, I spent weeks working on my essay up until the night it was due. I was so meticulous it was ridiculous. At my last-ever marching band competition, I sat in the stands with my laptop, editing and revising my statement. When it began to rain, I threw a blanket and poncho over myself and my computer and continued to work as an unidentifiable blob of try-hard. Now, this process may not have been as arduous if I wasn't the kind of person who consistently writes 140-character tweets, and my essays are no different. Every word counts, and my personal statement was exactly 650. The purpose of this anecdote is to show you that that no matter how crazy the essay-writing process gets for you, things could be worse. Remember that it's just an essay, and it's only one part of the admissions process. So don't go crazy over it like me. If you have something to say, it will show.

Good luck and get writing!

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