Key Recommendations for Writing a Personal Statement for College

A personal statement, also called statement of purpose, is an essay written as part of application process for admission to various educational institutions. It is important because it helps applicants describe their own skills, experience, and ambitions, which is very informative personal information that is complementary to other documents submitted during application and used for assessing the candidate.

While personal statements may be required in other circumstances, for instance, as part of job applications accompanying a CV, here, we focus on writing a personal statement for college. In particular, we describe the expected content and provide some basic suggestions but also include a sample for illustration.

personal statement for college

How to Begin a Personal Statement

Our experts explain how to start a personal statement for college by listing some recommendations following common sense. Firstly, start by learning about the university or course you are applying to. You need a good understanding of what the core disciplines are, what key competencies and knowledge are developed during the educational process, what job opportunities these studies open, what are some typical challenges encountered during studies. For more potentially useful ideas, review our article on how to start an assignment.

Carefully study application guidelines. It would help understand the context of your application, how it will be reviewed. Sometimes, the same platform is used for applying to multiple colleges, such as in the case of UCAS – the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service in the UK. In such case, one shouldn’t mention any specific college names or course titles but rather should write more generally about specialization.

Outline the structure of your personal statement. Check whether you are required to follow a pre-established standard template. If it is not the case, think about structure of your content, which sections would come first and which ones would come later to ensure natural flow. Your planning efforts should yield a detailed outline which would subsequently guide the writing process – obviously, you may reorganize elements in the outline to ensure smooth content flow and avoid restructuring the final text.

What is Better to Include in Personal Statement

If instructions in the application guide allow free writing rather than following a template, then you should consider including the following sections when writing a personal statement for college:

Skills and achievements. A student’s achievements or proof of skills are among the criteria carrying the greatest weight for an admission committee given that they represent an effective way of evaluating abilities and a fair method of recognizing somebody’s previous effort. If there is something you’ve done which might throw positive light on some relevant skills or abilities, it’s very advisable that you mention it.

Hobbies and interests. Your interests are the reasons you apply in a certain discipline for college. Share your enthusiasm for this field and explain why it’s important for you on personal level – what personal goals, worldview, creed, visions align with and explain such interest of yours and how your past contributed to these interests. Talking about hobbies may help create an image of person with multiple and balanced interests, who can harness energy and inspiration from all these activities and perhaps channel them somewhere else. In addition, hobbies are another area of manifestation. Mentioning sporting, musical, or creative clubs or societies one belongs to, is as well appropriate.

Work history. In case students had some part-time or summer work, it could be a really valuable thing to mention in college personal statement even if it is not related to the anticipated field of study. It is because work typically requires and develops skills like discipline, cooperative spirit, stress resilience, etc. Volunteering experience is by no means worse than work experience and sometimes even better – it proves you are not only driven by prospects of personal financial gain but also by the community spirit. Volunteering signals you are likely to be an active and involved student throughout college years – there are lots of projects on campus which could benefit the student community as well.

Career plans. Sharing your future plans demonstrates you have an idea about the path you plan following after graduation – having a “plan A” is always good. However, it is again not catastrophic if you aren’t entirely determined – you could state what type of work you are keenly attracted to within a discipline and might support your position by listing examples of professions which feel right or seem to lead to personal accomplishment. Demonstrate reality awareness that you are not naïve about existing opportunities and challenges.

Dos and Don’ts When Writing Personal Statement

A series of rules should be useful in guiding you on how to write a personal statement for college. The best alumni have prepared a few pieces of advice that should help you.

  • Show your enthusiasm and passion. It is quite important to convince evaluators that you are really passionate and interested in what you pursue because motivation is a great predictor of perseverance and success. 
  • Open your soul if needed. If your academic pursuit is linked to some personal struggles or challenges faced earlier in life, it could be very wise to confess about it in your statement of purpose. Explain how challenges made you tougher and provide examples of achievements.
  • Edit and improve your original version. It is not unusual to read the final draft of your personal statement six times or more and revise content, optimize word choice and certain expressions, locate grammatical errors. While writing or editing, watch the word limit. An undergraduate personal statement for college UK submitted through UCAS is typically 4000 characters long.
  • Ask somebody to review your essay – note that there are always aspects that you may miss, hence such an essay could seriously benefit from somebody else’s correction.
  • Do not exaggerate or lie about any of your achievements, skills, talents as you always risk being exposed during an interview and lying comes with heavy penalties along with a heavy conscience. Not plagiarizing your admission essay is another essential aspect of being honest.
  • Don’t be too modest – while such trait would be highly valued outside this context, in this particular situation, it could cause harm, given that you are competing with other applicants and are expected to provide solid informative arguments aimed at convincing the committee that your application is superior.

For more general suggestions that could prove useful in writing personal statements, refer to our article on how to write a good assignment.

Personal Statement Examples for College

The most efficient way of grasping the rules according to which a personal statement is written is to review college personal statement examples on the web. Alternatively, applicants could cooperate with personal statement writing service to help them achieve such goal or even could delegate this task entirely to such service. Below, is personal statement sample:

I’ve noticed that throughout my school years, I’ve enjoyed wide diversity of exact sciences and was fascinated in particular by understanding the underlying principles behind various complex phenomena or systems, for instance, Mendeleev’s periodic table, which elegantly describes the pattern of organization of subatomic particles (neutrons, protons, electrons) into atoms.

The field that maximally converges my interests was computer science and in particular AI, despite the fact that only basics are taught in school. Such attraction is due to the versatility of involved algorithms, universal applicability based on some fundamental mathematics, underlying engineering mindset of this field, and its huge transformative potential. Driven by my passion, I’ve managed to get some really good scores on some machine learning contests organized on Analytics Vidhya platform.

As for my hobbies, instrumental music has been central passion for more than 6 years already, since I’ve started learning to play bass guitar, all by myself. By experimenting and improvising at parties of friends and at occasional street music events, I’ve discovered it is an extremely versatile instrument and sheer diversity of sounds it can produce can trigger a huge spectrum of emotional states and behaviour in my audience.

To me, music is another interesting and enigmatic system which sparks many questions – what musical patterns (tonality, tempo, etc.), what types and combinations of instruments make us consider an instrumental piece harmonious, inciting, playful, dark, solemn, etc.? Could deep learning algorithms learn these patterns and reproduce them creating veritable pieces of art? I am sure that this will become a big industry in less than 6 years and I contemplate building my career in it

While the information above should be useful in getting initiated, learning how to write a personal statement for a college application requires a decent amount of creativity, which is the key to a unique and inspiring essay. As admission essay writing help is frequently requested from our professional academic assistants, we provide UK students with high-quality assistance in this regard. Just place an order and start cooperating with your preferred writer to create a powerful personal statement matching your biography, personality, academic preferences.


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