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How to Write an Extraordinary Personal Statement

King/Student Maria Vasquez gathering information on how to write an extraordinary personal statement

Aziza Wright, Staff Writer

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Many students have been finding it particularly difficult to think about and write a memorable personal statement for college. Seniors at King/Drew have been faced with the mighty challenge of having to write about themselves in either 2 essays that cannot exceed 1,000 words for the UC application, or choosing from 5 prompts and writing about 1 for the Common Application.

For those who are applying to University of California School and/or California State School, 2 personal statements are required, answering 2 separate prompts. For all colleges that are not UC’s or Cal States, a different pool of prompts are to be picked and then answered accordingly.

I have gathered information from various sources to compile helpful tips on how to keep calm and write an outstanding personal statement.

The most important part of your personal statement is the subject you write about. Do not try to make it something you think they want to hear about. If it interests YOU and you can write beautifully about it, then do it! If you do not like what you write about, the process will be extremely difficult and time-consuming. The representative from Princeton University said that the best personal statement he has ever read was about what a girl did every Tuesday of her life. He raved about how it was so interesting even though it was something so simple. He said that it really stood out because it was so unique and funny.

There are several questions you may want to ask yourself when brainstorming your topic. When beginning this process, ask yourself the following:

  • Have I selected a topic that describes something important about me?
  • Can I see vivid, personal experiences and details to make my essay memorable?
  • Can I fully answer the question?
  • Will my topic turn off a lot of people? If yes, do not write it.
  • Will an admissions counselor remember my essay after a day of reading hundreds of essays?
  • What will the counselor remember about my essay?

There are some things you should avoid when writing your personal statement. Consider the following:

  • Avoid clichés or broad/played out expressions.
  • Do not try to be hilariously funny or uniquely creative; it is hard to do and somewhat risky.
  • Do not experiment with varied fonts and formats.
  • Do not make a list of accomplishments and call it a personal statement.
  • Do not just send your personal statement in without having someone look at it (this should be someone besides your family).

The following are UC prompts for those who are interested in applying:

  • Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
  • Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?

The following are prompts for every other college:

  • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  • Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

You only pick ONE of these prompts to write on, and you may not exceed 650 words.

Despite preconceived ideas, writing a personal statement is not as challenging as it may seem. If you sit down and at least start writing, you will not be able to stop.

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How to Write an Extraordinary Personal Statement