How to Write Personal Essay for College

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For some reason, writing or talking about yourself is quite challenging. Figuring where to start can take you forever. People write personal essays for many reasons. Writers use them as a way of sharing their personal stories with others, while high school students write their personal essays as part of their college admissions process.

Personal Essay

Thoughtful attractive woman in spectacles writes in diary to do list of goals, makes notes in personal organizer, poses at cozy coworking space, creats article on scientific topic, thinks at plans

A personal essay is meant to inspire and enlighten the audience with information gathered from real-life experience. While writing the essay from first-person perspective, the personal essay can be done in different styles, such as creative nonfiction essays or formal essays. It usually has a conversational tone creating a strong connection with the readers. The essay could be uplifting and inspiring or serve as a warning where you tell your mistakes so that others can avoid them.

Personal Essay Structure

Like any other type of college essay structure, a personal essay should consist of three main parts; introductory paragraph, body paragraph, and conclusion. As long as the essay has these three basic sections, your essay can be as short or long as you would like it to be. However, five paragraphs are the standard length.

IntroductionYou want to hook your readers so they can read your essay to the end. Any journalist will tell you that a great introduction will catch the attention of any leader.

Ensure the introductory sentence contains a hook that captures their attention. The college admissions officers usually have less time to review your essay; hence ensure it’s vivid enough to keep them engaged. Give a personal statement,, which you are planning to prove in the body of your essay. Try to form a special connection and avoid cliches, such as opening with a famous quote.

BodyHere, include the main points as you support your thesis statement with your personal evidence. Share the way your personal experience has reshaped your UC personal insight and reflect on the knowledge you acquired as a result.


ConclusionIn this part, don’t add anything new you didn’t state in the body paragraph. You only need to restate your thesis and reveal the deeper truth or give the moral of the story. Sum up with what you want to be the leader’s takeaway and review why this essay matters.


Guideline for Writing a Personal Essay

Prepare in advance

Before writing your personal essay, think about the most outstanding personality features, you would like your audience to know. Think of this kind of essay as a portal of yourself and the best way you can describe it with a story. To make the story engaging and compelling, outline a list of strong points you would like to include.

Adopt an honest approach and don’t brag about yourself. If this is your college application essay, you can still add some information you haven’t included in your college application. Organize your ideas to ensure they flow well in your essay, so it doesn’t appear as if it’s just a collection of ideas. Split your essay into readable short paragraphs. You will be sure that your college admission officers are hooked to the end.

Draft a compelling topic

You need to choose a unique yet real topic that closely relates to you as an individual. Remember, you can only achieve a successful college essay if you talk about something that has taught you something and still inspire you to achieve your goals in life. The best college essay topics of this genre can be;

  • Dealing with life obstacles
  • Making difficult choices
  • Tackling tragedy
  • Overcoming fear
  • An estranged family member
  • First time you failed a test
  • Moral turning point in your teen age
  • A tutor who changed the way you view life

The topic shouldn’t sound superficial. Any moment that enriched your UC personal insight, changed or sparked you in a special way is worth telling the world through your personal essay.

If you aren’t sure which route to take, you can request your seniors to help you with their college essay examples to help you understand what is required of you. The reason being, college essays are more complex compared with the type of essays you have been writing in high school.

Adapt an inspiring and honest tone

Once you have finished drafting an essay outline, you need to get the right tone. Through your essay, aim at maintaining an honest and consistent tone. The tone of your college essays determines a lot. Never display a picture of yourself that doesn’t show who you are; always be honest with what you write. College admission officers have read many application essays and college essays and can instantly tell when you aren’t truthful. They will tell which part of our essay is conveying artificial feelings.

If your essay talks about a past experience in your life, ensure you relate it with a present. Provide an insight of how that experience affects you to date.

Avoid spelling, punctuation, and grammatical mistakes

In spite of how exciting your application essay is, it will never please the admission officers if it contains any punctuation, grammatical or spelling mistakes. They might get the impression that you don’t pay attention to details and have not been attentive it the entire college admission process.

Write in a formal tone, avoid using slang and keep the essay conversational. Keep your readers interested in reading your essay and give them an impression that they are actually interacting with you.


Many high school students make mistakes of handing over their essays without proofreading. If you want to write a successful college essay, re-read your essay and even seek an extra set of eyes from another person. As they proofread, they will spot some errors you might have missed. Ask them to give their honest opinion. Positive criticism will help you improve your writing.

Once you have revised several times, keep the essay draft for a few days. Review it one more time, meticulously seeking any possible mistakes you might have missed. Check whether you have followed all the requirements, including word count.

Why Is It Important To Write a Personal Essay?

Let’s view your personal essay from the perspective of the college admission officers. They typically screen hundreds of candidates who are enriched with extracurricular records and stellar grades every other year. It’s normal that they find it hard to come up with a list of students who genuinely worked hard for their achievements while in high school.

Behind those appealing descriptions found in the college admissions application form, often hide fake personalities. A personal essay is the only remaining medium that can clearly display your personality perfectly. Besides, the admission officers can distinguish unique essays from fake ones effortlessly.

Therefore, when writing your personal essay, don’t try to impress the officers with derivative pieces of evidence while else your original content can naturally help you score higher grades. This is the kind of perspective you need to have in mind while writing your personal essay.

Don’t refrain from displaying your emotions as you write; there’s no harm in mentioning any adversity you might have experienced in life. The college officers aren’t looking for a perfect candidate, hence showcasing your shortcomings and vulnerabilities will always work in your advantage. State how those experiences have molded the person you have become. Besides, sharing such personal experiences with your readers will help you form a greater connection with the college admission officers.

Summing up

Crafting a successful college essay can be hectic; however, you will develop a compelling piece with fewer challenges if you streamline the process.

Remember, your essay is only a medium to convey your views and personality. Hence, choose a persuasive topic that will display your personality and viewpoint the best way possible.

You can always review college essay examples from those ahead of you but never include their opinions or copy their work to get higher scores. You will never go wrong if you give a past event or experience that shaped you or changed how you view life.

Throughout your essay, maintain an inspirational and positive tone. Avoid grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors. Remember to check whether you have met the word limit, proofread and refine the final draft before submitting it.

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