As many of you are preparing to apply to colleges, you are revising your personal statement. Unlike your transcript, resume, and recommendations, your personal statement is the only opportunity you get to tell your story to colleges and explain why you deserve to be admitted to their school. Each personal statement is unique because each person’s story is unique, however; how do you describe your life in less than 650 words? My biggest challenge when I started writing my personal statement was choosing a specific part of my life to present. It may feel weird to write a personal story to complete strangers who hold the decision of whether or not to admit you. Some people use their personal statement to either tell an inspirational story about themselves or pull the sympathetic sad tale card of the struggles they faced in their life. For some people those strategies work, but a personal statement doesn’t have to be a cliche story. I didn’t want my personal statement to be a cliche persuasive essay of why I deserve to be in a certain college. I chose to write about how my mother, Tanya, abandoned me when I was ten because it was a unique story that very few people experienced. My personal statement was about how Tanya’s failure as a mother fuels my ambition and inspires me to do better than her by going to college. One of the lines I wrote was about how I wanted to “rise to fame just to give her a heart attack”. I wanted to show college admission officers a side of me not revealed through my grades; I wanted to show them that a low income African American student raised by a single father could not only overcome a major personal adversity but exceed every academic challenge set forth in high school.
Now I am a freshman at one of the most prestigious, highly selective, Jesuit university called Boston College. Your personal statement doesn’t have to be about a personal challenge that you faced or why you deserve to go to college, but your personal statement should be a reflection of yourself as an individual, how your experiences shaped into the person you are today, and what you would bring to the table of the university. As amazing as your story may be never be afraid to ask for help either in your school by a teacher, fellow student, or even your principal.
When I was a senior, I remember helping a couple students editing their personal statements in my free time. Whether it be grammatical edits or structural advice, there is nothing wrong with asking others to look over your personal statement until it is your final and best presentation of yourself. Your personal statement is your only chance to truly express yourself to college admission officers, but you don’t have present a false story about yourself in order to get into a good school. The best I can give is to stay true to yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help whenever you can.