The Personal Statement

What is a Personal statement? 

At its core, your essay is a story – a story about you. Your story, told in your own voice and in your own words, will show readers something genuine about you, something they can’t get from scores and grades and long lists of activities. It will likely describe a personal accomplishment, characteristic, achievement, or experience.  

What colleges need a personal statement? Any college on the Common Application or the Coalition Application needs a personal statement. ** The UC application does not have a personal statement, but students are required to write four shorter answers to the personal insight questions. The California State system does not require any writing.

How long is a personal statement? Students have up to 650 words to tell their story.  

What is the process for writing a personal statement? We use a multi-step process to help students craft an effective personal statement. The important steps are brainstorming, developing content, refining the purpose, organizing ideas, choosing a structure, revising, and polishing. 

How do you know you have written an effective personal statement? 

When you have:

  • A clear theme which means you can easily answer– What is this about and why is it important?
  •  Told the admissions committee something that cannot be found anywhere else in your application
  • Thoughtfully shared your ideas and supported your ideas with concrete examples
  • Made your examples so personal, that this could not be anyone else’s essay

See two examples of past personal statements that do all of the above.

Personal Statement Example #1 Personal Statement Example #2

How are we going to start? The goal is to focus and write your personal statement in 4 weeks. You will work with your counselor to set a Personal Statement writing schedule and when we decide on a due date, the expectation is that your work will be done on time 🙂 We will start with understanding the prompt and brainstorming and then move into theme, content, and structure. 

We totally understand that this is hard work (all College Calm counselors wrote a personal statement this spring to remind us how it feels). We know it will take focus and dedication to create an effective personal statement. We are so excited to hear your ideas and get started!