How to Write a Personal Essay for College: Are You Sure You Know Enough

Writing your personal essay for college admission application is by far one of the most important pieces the average person will write in their lifetime.  It is also one of the hardest.  How do you get started?  What should you write about?  Your personal essay is just that, personal.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of writing about a person or event, but leaving the “you” out of your personal essay. 

Here are 3 rules to follow to make sure your personal essay is about you.

  1.        There is no such thing as a perfect topic.   If you were to conduct a survey of college admission committees, they will give you different answers to what their favorite essay prompt is.  Don’t stress yourself out trying to guess.  Choose a topic that you can relate too and you care about. For example, if they ask you to talk about a time when you failed at something, they really don’t care about what you failed at.  They want to see how you reacted to that failure or how it affected you.  They also want to know did it teach you anything.  So, don’t take it as a narrative about how big of a screw up you can be, but a chance to see that you are an overcomer.
  2.       Write about you, not someone else.  This is a personal essay.  They don’t want to know about your great, great grandfather and how he emigrated from some third world country to give his family a better life.  However, this is a great chance to write about how you feel inspired about what he did and how thankful you are because you have an opportunity to go to college.  You can even throw in why going to college (or that particular college) means so much to you.  This is your chance to make your desires and your dreams shine. Be honest, even if you think you shouldn’t or your life is too boring.  Your honest tone will be recognized and appreciated.
  3.       Start writing your essay early. It’s old advice, but it’s true.  Seriously, the more time you have to get your thoughts on paper, the better.  Read it, revise it, repeat.  Get someone else to look over it, but don’t let their feedback change your voice.  Make sure it is clean of grammatical errors or misspellings. 

Writing a great personal essay can be really tough, but with these simple rules, you can do it.