One day, out of nowhere, you suddenly need to know how to write a personal statement for a college application. Such pressure would give even great essayists writer’s block.

But first:

Don’t worry! Even though this article can’t give you a personal statement template (because each is totally unique), this article does tell you how to start off a personal essay, how to format a personal statement and tips for various types of personal statements.

And then:

Bookmark the blog. It has tips to improve your writing, whether you’re writing a college essay or learning how to write a personal statement.

1.  🔑  The Keys to a Great Personal Statement for College

Before getting into the details about what makes a college application essay special, let’s review the fundamentals of essay writing. These are some rules that should guide your writing every time you sit down to write an essay, report, or anything else—no matter the topic!

  1. Planning your writing is essential. Don’t throw an essay together at the last minute. Think about what you’re going to write, outline your personal statement, and then execute your essay.
  2. Be sure to use solid writing structure, especially if you have a freeform essay prompt. Many college admissions essay prompts are freeform, but don’t let your personal statement format be freeform. However, this shouldn’t be a problem because you already know the best personal statement format! Always use a properly structured essay format with a clear introduction, body, conclusion, and thesis statement (like the 5-paragraph essay).
  3. The foundation of all good writing is rewriting—so don’t submit a first draft! You’re not a professional writer, but even acclaimed writers always need to edit and rewrite to perfect their prose. If you don’t have multiple drafts of your personal statement for college, you are in trouble.
  4. Make sure your essay addresses the prompt. The first and only impression most college applicants get to make is through their application essays. A strong personal statement should always address the essay prompt directly. If the admissions committee thinks you’ve adapted an old essay for your application, they might think you don’t know how to follow directions.
  5. Get the reader’s attention by showing what make you unique and a great applicant. Put yourself in the position of college admissions staffs. They read tons of essays. Accordingly, you should focus on grabbing the attention of the reader, but in a good way. Don’t lie, exaggerate, or try to be memorable for the wrong reason. Instead, find ways to emphasize the unique traits about yourself that would make you an ideal college student.

Time is the most precious resource.

  1. Time is the most precious resource…
    1. …so start writing early and don’t procrastinate! Rushed writing is typically bad writing. When you have the time to write (and rewrite), the finished product will be superior. If you know that you have an application essay due next month, try producing a draft today.
    2. so don’t waste your reader’s time. This is the most important rule of writing. When an essay has to be 500 words in length, for example, make sure that you’ve chosen an appropriate topic. If you can only write 250 words on a subject, and the rest is filler, then your readers are going to feel like their time was wasted. (Tip: Squeeze the most out of your writers time by writing a 600 word essay and using creative tricks to reduce the word count.)

If you can follow this small handful of rules, you are going to be ahead of most college applicants. Remember, getting into college is a competition, so it is vital that you learn how to write a strong personal statement.

2.  🧔  What Is a Personal Statement?

Many high school students think they have never written a personal statement before. But most of them are mistaken. Why is this? You have probably written plenty of personal statements as a high school student, but your teachers referred to them by a different name. Maybe your teachers used the term personal essay or opinion essay. Maybe they just referred to them as writing assignments.

But remember:

A personal statement is just an essay with a topic that focuses on the writer specifically. In all the best examples of personal statements, college admissions committees are given real insight into applicants.

For example, a personal statement on literature should go beyond your opinion of your favorite book. (Definitely do not write a book report!) Rather, an ideal sample personal statement on literature should indicate what your favorite book means to you. Similarly, if you’ve chosen to write about your favorite sport, you must write about what it means to you. See the pattern?

Most of all:

Don’t forget that you are the star of your personal statement—no matter what, you are the topic.

3.  💡  Tips for Writing an Outstanding College Application Essay

There are many tips for writing the best college application essay, and here are a few of the most important.


You need to remember the purpose of writing a personal statement for a college application. Obviously, the answer is to get into the colleges to which you are applying. This is not writing to express yourself, though good personal essay examples typically do that. Instead, you need to impress a university staff member who is reading dozens of essays every day for a month.


Since the goal is to get admitted to a college, you need to put your best foot forward. If you can choose a topic that highlights one of your most positive attributes, great. If you can write about a topic that makes it clear what a great college student you will be, even better! If you can use your personal statement to show your incredible drive and resilient character inside the classroom and out, you are in phenomenal shape! But again, don’t lie or exaggerate.

If possible, write about activities that are on your application elsewhere, but are not well described. If you were a class president, you might want to write about that. But if you started a unique club that did charity work, tutoring, or anything else benefiting the community, this would be a superior topic. Class presidents are just popular students, while students who create positive change in their communities are rare gems.

Never waste your reader’s time


Follow the general rules given earlier in this article, but pay special attention to the rule that says to never waste your reader’s time. Because the admissions staff that reads these college essays must read many application packets daily, they want to feel like every essay they read is worthy of their attention. For this reason, never include filler in an admission essay. If there are any wasted words in your college application essay, cut them immediately.

4.  🌟  How to Start a Personal Statement like a Pro

So you’re finally ready to start your personal statement? You’ve Googled “write personal statement sample” and “how to start a college personal statement,” so now you know how to start a personal statement, right?

Not so fast:

Have you brainstormed? Have you written an outline? Have you developed the perfect thesis statement? If you haven’t performed these crucial steps, then you aren’t really ready. You need to make sure that you’ve thought about the topic thoroughly, that you actually have enough content for your chosen topic, and that it can be focused on a powerful, memorable thesis statement.

Сrafting your personal statement

If you can’t do these 3 things, your application is going to fall to the bottom of the pile.

Here are a few more tips to ensure you get your personal statement started off on the right foot.

  1. Think about a similar writing process: how to start a persuasive essay. Ponder the following. A college application essay is just a persuasive essay in which you are trying to persuade your reader that you would make an excellent college student. Of course, you want to be more subtle, but the purpose of a personal statement for a college application is persuasion.
  2. Before you start writing your personal statement, read personal statement examples. Many prestigious universities publish a handful of sample personal statements from successful applicants. These are the best sorts of personal statement examples, but you should be careful to avoid copying topics or language. Instead, pay attention to similarities to get a better understanding of the best format for a personal statement
  3. Don’t goof up the simple formatting issues before you’ve even started writing. Nowadays, the physical formatting of your personal statement matters less than ever because so much text is directly submitted through the web. However, if you need to send your statement as a Word document file, use a standard font like 12 point Arial or Times New Roman. Do not make tiny or huge margins. However, you may want to include a personal statement heading that include your name in order to be certain that you are given credit for your awesome personal statement—even if your printed essay is misplaced. Most importantly, check any formatting requirements for each personal statement and apply them before you even write one word of your essay.
  4. Pay attention to the strengths of a school or program to which you are applying. If you are applying to a college with a strength in agriculture, you should write an essay that shows how well you understand crops or livestock. If you are applying to an engineering school, you should highlight your dexterity with calculations. And if you’re applying to a military academy, the last thing you want to do is describe how much you hate following rules.

Armed with these guidelines for personal statements for college applications, you should be able to start writing a great essay to get into any school. (And now you know how to start a personal statement.)

5.  🕵️  The Secrets to the Best Grad School Essays

But maybe you’ve already been admitted to the college of your dreams, and your goal is to get into the graduate program of your dreams. However, many students have to settle for safety schools when attending college, but graduate school and professional schools such as medical school and law school can provide a second chance to achieve your academic dreams.

But wait:

Before you dust off the college application essay that got you into your current university, you should consider that the standards for graduate students are a bit higher. Here are a few tips that you should follow if you want to get into the graduate program of your dreams.

  1. Pick graduate programs to apply to that suit your strengths from your undergraduate education. This isn’t exactly a writing tip, but it is a tip that makes your writing much easier. When you are sitting down to write your grad school application essays, it can be quite easy if your résumé screams that you are a perfect fit.
  2. Try to find and read more than one successful graduate school personal statement sample. If you are an overachieving undergraduate student, like many future grad students are, you may have strong relationships with your teaching assistants, instructors, and even professors. Many of these people may have graduate school personal statement examples from their own graduate school applications, and many of them would be happy to share them with you if you promise to be nice. After reading a successful personal statement or two, you may see what is expected of a grad school applicant.
  3. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the graduate program or your future graduate advisors ahead of time. Graduate school is not like undergraduate programs—you will probably work very closely with a professor. Accordingly, you email or even phone them before you apply. The content of your conversations will shape your personal statement. For example, if you know the professor you want to work with also wants to work with you, then you should include that information in your personal statement.
  4. Get help from current or past grad students! Again, if you are an overachieving undergraduate, make sure to use your professional contacts to write the best essays possible. Some constructive criticism on your application materials could be just what you need to get admitted.

These tips are just the beginning of writing one of the best grad school essays that will be submitted to your graduate program of choice.

Remember to follow all the norms within your field

Above all else:

Remember to follow all the norms within your field. Every discipline and subject in graduate school has slightly different standards, so only use those tips that apply to your field.

6.  💎  Writing a Brilliant Law School Personal Statement

You’ve studied hard, done well in college, and you’ve decided to go to law school. You’ve been looking at law school rankings for the last 3 semesters.

So obviously:

Don’t make a boneheaded mistake with your law school personal statement! Following the rules outlined above is just a start, you’ll also need to read a few example law school personal statements and pay attention to these specific features in the law school application process.

  1. Make sure to use crystal clear language. Practicing law is all about communicating clearly, logically, and persuasively. These three elements of communication are the fundamentals of being a successful lawyer. If your essay does not demonstrate these qualities, you will probably not be admitted to law school.
  2. Don’t focus too much on your love of the legal professions or process. It is a little known fact that most lawyers never enter a courtroom in the average year. Trial lawyers make up a small percentage of lawyers. Most are actually corporate lawyers who use their expertise to advise their firms as well as write and analyze contracts. And of course, many individuals with law degrees use their legal knowledge, training, and skills for totally unrelated professions. Accordingly, you should focus on the writing an essay that describes your positive attributes that make you well suited to learning and writing about law, rather than your long-term professional goals.
  3. If you do talk about the implications of a legal profession or its importance to you, be careful! If you insist on writing about your imagined future as a judge or your deep and eternal love of the law, make sure your writing does not contain inaccuracies. Remember, the people reading your law school personal statements are probably lawyers—and they almost certainly have better understandings of the law than you. If your law school personal statement contains any legal content, perhaps have a lawyer read it.

7.  🏥  Crafting the Best Medical School Personal Statement

Last but certainly not least, you may be applying to medical school. Medical doctors, optometrists, and dentists each have their own special schools with their very stringent standards. As such, read some successful example essays and follow these tips to ensure your success.

  1. If you are applying to medical school, be sure you are applying to a program that might actually accept you. Be realistic when assessing your résumé, transcript, and MCAT scores. The medical schools you are applying to should be within reach. If you can match your qualifications to your desired schools, your medical school personal statement will be much easier to write. (However, one nice feature of med school personal statements is that you can often write an AMCAS personal statement and use it for multiple programs.)
  2. Demonstrate your skills as both a scholar and a scientist. Medical school in the 21st century is equal parts book smarts and scientific knowhow. If you have laboratory research experience, make sure to share it. If you’ve had scientific publications, they definitely need to be a focus of your personal statement.

All these tips should be very helpful, but sometimes tips are not enough. So why not get some professional writing help if you don’t know how to write a personal statement? After all, this personal statement could be the most important essay of your life.

And that is precisely why is there for you. Professional writers and editors with advanced degrees are ready to help you with any writing assignment or application essay, around the clock.

Further reading:

✏️  Personal Statement for College FAQ

Nearly any college or scholarship application procedure includes writing a specific paper. It may be a motivation letter, a personal statement, or an application essay, etc. A student should describe their background, provide relevant information about experience and goals, prove their motivation.
Applying for a scholarship implies writing a personal statement or a similar paper. If you want to succeed in it, take a look at multiple examples or even templates available online. Your main task is to highlight your strength and motivation.
For a college application, a standard format includes the following key points:
  1. Introduction (name, age, place of residence);
  2. Educational background (all levels + related courses);
  3. The desired program you’re applying for;
  4. Justification of your choice, your motivation;
  5. Relevant additional details about you.
A personal statement might look a little different, depending on the type of application. For grad school, college, masters, jobs – each one might have its peculiarities. The common principle is that it should be well-structured, contain relevant details about your background, and prove your strong motivation.

🔗  References