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College Applications Decoded: Best Practices for Personal Statements

Updated: Sep 26


College applications- - What are good personal statements
What should I write about for my college essay personal statement?

The College Application Process: From the ACT|SAT Exam to the Personal Statement for College



The journey to higher education, specifically the college application process, is a significant milestone. For many students, it's the first taste of adulthood's responsibilities and challenges. With the myriad decisions, planning intricacies, and looming deadlines, it can be daunting. This article focuses on demystifying the college application process focusing on the the "personal statement for college." Another article on CollegeBooks.com also covers the college application process (College Admissions: From ACT/SAT Practice Exams to Writing the College Essay). The college application process can be stressful. Preparing for the these college entrance exams is essential if you want to achieve a higher score. Also, writing a personal statement for college that reflects something unique about you can also help you focus on what is important to achieve in college when you are in the process of completing your college applications.


The book below has great reviews and you may find it useful when planning your strategy to get into the college of your choice


The College Bound Planner: A Roadmap to Take You From High School to Your First Day of College (Time Management, Goal Setting for Teens)



Personal Statement for College: College Essay formats and Ideas

BeMo's Ultimate Guide to Ivy League College Essays & Personal Statements: How to Write Captivating Essays and Statements Even If You Are Not a Natural Writer


The above guide is a great resource to have for writing College Essays and Personal Statements for Colleges


Points to Consider when Crafting your College Essays and Personal Statements


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Things to consider when writing a personal statement for college

  • Recognizing its Importance: Unlike specific essay prompts, a personal statement for colleges gives a panoramic view of your journey, aspirations, and unique attributes.

  • Effective College Essay Format Examples:

  1. Introduction: Start with a captivating anecdote or experience that offers a glimpse into your core theme.

  2. Body:

  • Narrative Arc: Chronicle pivotal experiences, milestones, or challenges, weaving a coherent story.

  • Showcase Growth: Emphasize transformative moments and lessons learned.

  • Connections: Relate your past experiences to your future college and career aspirations.

  • Outlining Your Statement: Begin by jotting down key life events, achievements, and aspirations. Identify patterns or themes, and then structure your narrative around them.

Distinguishing Features of Effective Personal Statements for Colleges:

  • Authentic Voice: It's your story; let it echo your genuine experiences and reflections.

  • Vivid Imagery: Opt for "showing" rather than "telling." Paint a picture with your words.

  • Introspection: It's not just about what happened, but also about your growth and realizations.

ALWAYS circle back and re-read your college essay multiple times. Also, have others you trust give you feedback. It is an important document and you don't want to have errors in grammar or a personal statement that is not well written. Be receptive to feedback, but remember this is about you, so it is best to keep it authentic.

You may want to include in your Personal Statement for College Why That College is Right for You


Choosing the Right College

A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Right College for You: The 20 Essential Steps for Success Finding Your Perfect College

  • Academic Programs: Your dream major should be front and center at your chosen institution.

  • Location and Campus Life: Visualize your perfect setting—bustling metropolis or idyllic countryside?

  • Financial Aspects: Delve into tuition, additional costs, and available financial aid.

  • Size and Student Body: Gauge if a sprawling university or cozy college aligns with your preference.

  • Infrastructure and Amenities: Prioritize quality libraries, labs, and extracurricular arenas.

  • Reputation and Rankings: A college's stature in your specific field can tip the scales

Spotlight on Scholarships and Financial Aid

  • Early Bird Advantage: Scholarships often precede college application cut-offs.

  • Counseling Resources: Schools often house a plethora of scholarship leads.

  • Online Scholarship Aggregators: Platforms like Fastweb offer a treasure trove of opportunities.

  • Direct from Universities: Explore merit-based scholarships within college financial aid sections.

The Common Application: Your Multi-College Passport

An umbrella platform, the Common Application facilitates submissions to over 900 colleges. While immensely useful, ensure your preferred colleges accept it.


Key Milestones and Deadlines to Consider for the College Application Process

  • Junior Year: Lay the groundwork with research, shortlisting, and outlining your personal statement.

  • Summer Before Senior Year: Refine your personal statement for college, emphasizing its unique narrative.

  • Early Senior Year: Mark Early Decision or Early Action dates, typically October-November.

  • Regular Application Season: December-January is the crunch period but always verify specific dates.

Applications for College Admission: How Many Colleges Should I Apply to?


There are no hard and fast rules on how many colleges you should apply to, but you do need to consdier your budget and what is reasonable based on your academic performance. These list below are merely suggestions, not rules. You need to decide what is best for you.

  • Reach Schools (3-5): Institutions where you aim high.

  • Match Schools (3-5): Your qualifications align well with typical admissions.

  • Safety Schools (2-3): You're almost certain of a positive outcome.

Avoiding Application Pitfalls: College Applications Do's and Don'ts

  • Missed Deadlines: Digital reminders or traditional planners—choose your tool.

  • Generic Responses: Personalize every component of your application.

  • Oversights in Proofreading: An overlooked typo can overshadow your narrative. Triple-check.

  • Safety School Complacency: Every application deserves your best effort.

Concluding Thoughts


The college application process can be daunting. Spending time on writing a personal statement for college that is authentic and a reflection of you can put you on the right path. There is no perfect student and there are no perfect colleges. The key is to find a college that fits your needs and will help you to achieve your ultimate career goals.


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