I'm nervous about writing my college essay. I don't know where to start or what to write about. 

College Essay/Personal Statement 

The college essay or personal statement is a requirement for nearly all applications. It is a chance for admissions officers to see your writing skills and is also an opportunity to show who you are and how you can contribute to their school community. It's the perfect place to share unique personal experiences and describe in more detail what sets you apart from other applicants. 

"Be yourself" is the most common piece of advice you will hear about writing your college essay or personal statement. 

Video courtesy of Big Future 

Tips for Writing an Effective College Essay 
  • Brainstorm and outline your ideas before you start writing your essay.  

  • Give yourself time to write several drafts. Start writing your essay at least one to two months before it is due. 

  • Pick a question or topic that will allow you to highlight who you are and what you care about.

  • While you should use professional language, don't try to use "big" words that you think an admissions officer wants to see. Use language that you are comfortable with and that sounds like your own voice. 

  • Include examples and specific details to show a particular idea. For example, don't just state that you enjoy meeting diverse groups of people; share a story about a time you were interacting with a diverse group of people. 

  • Ask a friend or trusted adult to read the essay to see if it sounds like you. 

  • Ask a parent, teacher or trusted adult to proofread your essay before turning it in. Check for spelling, grammar and punctuation. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid 
  • Spending too much time talking about the school, a role model or family member. The essay should focus on you. 

  • Plagiarizing. Don't take phrases or entire ideas from someone else's essay. 

  • Repeating information that can be found on your resume or other parts of your application. This is a chance for you to share something new. You can, however, go in-depth about an extracurricular activity or work experience that had a significant impact on your life. 

  • Writing more or significantly less than the required word limit. Follow the directions as closely as possible. 

Additional Resources: 

  • Read successful college essays written by actual applicants, along with expert advice on what made each essay effective.