The Common Application Personal Statement

Amidst a sea of applicant statistics comprised of stellar grades and perfect test scores, the Personal Statement is your one chance to stand out as a three-dimensional person. Students often tell us that the Common Application Personal Statement is one of the most daunting parts of the application. We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be! In fact, it’s actually a great opportunity to flex your creative muscles and, if used wisely, the best chance you’ll have to really impress universities with what you uniquely have to offer.

The Personal Statement is a maximum 650-word essay that is an important part of the college application process. The goal of this essay – apart from evaluating your writing skills – is for colleges to get to know you better as a person so they can decide if you will be a good addition to the student body. With this objective in mind, all of the seven prompts are designed to help you begin thinking about your own values and unique experiences.

We know that at selective colleges, admissions officers often spend eight minutes or less reading an application. An effective Personal Statement should therefore have a clear, explicit message that reflects your character without asking its readers to think too hard on what you’re trying to get at.

This will likely be very different from any other essay you’ve had to write in your academic career thus far and so the brainstorming step of the Personal Statement is critical.This kind of introspection takes time, and if you are a rising senior, we suggest starting the brainstorming process right now! Using your summer months wisely and having a good draft by August will help to alleviate a lot of your stress before you go back to school and application season begins in earnest this autumn.  

It’s easier said than done. Here are some tips on how you can get started:

Think about the big, important moments in your life – your greatest achievements, key milestones, or even sometimes your biggest failures. How has this experience shaped who you are today? If you’ve faced serious challenges or setbacks in your life, how did you overcome them and grow as a person? If you have a passion, talent, or clear idea of what you want to major in, how will you enhance or change the field? 

Hopefully this article is able to get you started. It’s a challenging task, and we can help. Feel free to reach out to us for more information and guidance.

Good luck and happy writing!