During your time as a college student, you may be required to write a personal essay—in fact, admissions and application papers often fall under this category. If you’re not sure how to write a college essay, let alone a personal one, this type of assignment can be daunting.
Fortunately, by keeping some basic tips in mind, seeking assistance from masters, and reading examples of similar papers, you’ll find that writing these types essays is much simpler than you may have thought.
Preparing to Write a Personal Essay About Yourself for College
Whether you’re already in the midst of a postgraduate program or you’re merely trying to write the perfect college admission letter, by remembering certain key points, you’re much more likely to submit a good—and perhaps even a great—personal essay. For the best results, try to break your writing up into stages: preparation, composition, and editing. During the prep phase, remember these essential tips:
Choose an Interesting Topic
You have to remember that your professor has probably read numerous personal essays during their career as a university instructor. To impress them, you have to choose topics that aren’t too common. Take time to put a lot of different ideas down on paper before deciding on one. That said, if you eventually decide that you feel most comfortable writing about a topic that other people have likely covered before, go forward with that idea. However, if you can come up with something more unique, that may be the better direction to go in.
Understand the Requirements
Before you actually start to write your essay, ask the professor for help if you’re not clear on the requirements of the assignment. Personal essays are assigned in all types of classes, including accounting, law, management, psychology, criminology, dentistry, English, and history courses. Just as different professors have different teaching styles, so too do they often have different expectations for what students should include in a personal essay, how long or short it ought to be, and what the overall format and structure should be. Some professors want you to make a persuasive argument about yourself, some may want you to write a profile of someone who had a major impact on your life. You want to know exactly what they’re asking of you before you begin the work. If there are any terms you don’t understand in their instructions, request a definition. For an admissions paper, organizations like the PGCE or UCAS in the United Kingdom may have specific requirements for your personal statement too.
After you’ve prepared a layout for your essay, it’s time to start writing. Creating an outline at first is a smart idea, but personal essays can go in surprising directions. Don’t worry too much if your thoughts aren’t completely organized just yet. Right now, focus instead on writing a first draft that you’ll revise heavily later. As you write, adhere to these principles:
Focus on Lessons
Professors expect you to provide something more interesting than a bland narrative entitled “My Favorite Memory Ever,” in which you simply recount the events with no commentary. Whether you’re writing about a life-changing work experience, examining how you overcame a personal problem like social anxiety or explaining why you chose to apply to that particular school, one thing you should always do is explain what lessons you took away from this period of your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re studying business, medicine, management, or even midwifery—the best personal essays show how you’ve developed as an individual. This is especially important to keep in mind when submitting a college app or applying for a scholarship. You should provide a clear sense of who you are as a person and how you got to where you are in your life right now.
Don’t Brag Too Much
You may be thinking, “Don’t I want to make myself look good when writing this paper?” To some degree, that’s true. For example, if you’re applying to medical school or an MBA program, it’s important to convey your qualifications. That said, many personal essays and statements are boring if they read like a summary of all your accomplishments. In order to truly show how you’ve grown as an individual, you may need to be honest and write about a weakness you overcame. Although there’s no standard template for a general essay about yourself, merely submitting a collage of paragraphs in which you praise yourself won’t result in a memorable paper.
One of the best ways to get more comfortable with a personal essay is to read examples from people who’ve already completed this type of assignment. Ask your professor if they have an example of a strong essay from a previous grad that they can share with the class. If they don’t, find a writing service online focused on supporting college students, and hire them to draft a sample for you. This will serve as a useful resource, helping you to better understand what type of content has worked in the past.
Now that you’ve written a draft, read it through several times without making changes. Find out what key points resonate with you—those will likely be the points your second draft should be organized around.
If you’re not the most skilled writer in the world, submit your first draft to a teacher or friend so they can check for any grammatical errors, formatting issues, etc. Prepare a document that lists all the major revisions you need to make. Separate them into different sections. One section should be grammatical and syntax issues, one should be devoted to major themes, and another should be devoted to organizational changes.
Rewrite your draft and have a friend or teacher check it again.
Most importantly, don’t put the work off. If you’re in a PhD or Master’s program, or medical residency, you may be very busy, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you to procrastinate on this assignment. A personal essay can be simple to write once you understand the goal you’re trying to achieve, but at the same time, it can be difficult at first to look back through your life and pick a topic that you can successfully write a strong paper about. Even after you choose a topic, you still have to organize your thoughts, write the first draft, and, most likely, revise your work at least once. To ensure you graduate with the GPA you want, give yourself enough time to get this assignment right. Once again, if you’re struggling, you can always look for help online. Working with a skilled writer will help you better understand how to draft the needed essay, be it a nursing or a personal one, that impresses your instructors.