My inbox has been filled with emails from students around the world asking for help with the personal statement on their college applications. Most students are at a loss when it comes to finding the right topic – one that successfully markets their candidacy for a spot at the college of their choice. Part of the problem is that students are trolling the Internet in search of other students’ apa style college paper, and as a result, they are writing about the same trite subjects that other students are writing about. That strategy will insure that they fail at distinguishing themselves from other students. Equally problematic is that by studying other personal statements for clues about what to write, students are failing at the most important point of the personal statement, which is to provide an authentic narrative about themselves.
Don’t get stuck on trying to be profound when you talk about an experience you’ve had that influenced you deeply. Most 17 year olds haven’t had very dramatic lives (thank goodness!) and may feel as though nothing worth writing about has happened to them. However, it’s not the experience itself that is significant; it’s how you responded to it that reveals your character, motivation and complexity, and those are traits that the Admissions Committee wants to hear about.
You may have discovered the Free Writing technique in school. When you free write, you simply free associate thoughts without any concern about sentence structure, theme or even why you are writing. It’s a form of meditation where you write down the random thoughts that come through your mind instead of letting them drift away. As ideas start to come (and it will take more than a few minutes to get the creative juices flowing, so don’t get worried if you draw a blank at first), write or type words or phrases that pop into your head. The more you write, the more ideas will occur to you. Somewhere in those ideas is a concept that reveals what really matters to you, and that will form the basis of your personal statement.