Personal Statements and Essays for College Admissions

You want admissions officers to learn who you are and to like you, and you can do that by writing with your own voice.

Your personal statement is one of the important differentiating parts of your college application. While most of the other parts of your application involve quantifiable things such as your grade point average and admissions test scores, your personal statement is the piece that allows you to express more about who you are. If you write a great personal essay, it can catapult you to the next level and potentially make up for other areas of your application that might be less than perfect. At Going Ivy, we love this part of the application process. We help brainstorm topics, outline main ideas and edit drafts until you’re confident in every word. We work with students from high schools throughout Phoenix, and we understand how to help you write the type of personal statement that will work the best for you.

Leveraging Our Skills for Your Success

The counselors at Going Ivy are college admissions experts with insight into all the most exclusive institutions in the country. This gives them the perspective that they have garnered from reviewing personal statements, and they are thus well-equipped to help you to understand what does and doesn’t work. You’ll want to avoid certain subjects that are commonly overdone by other applicants. You’ll want to use emotion. Your personal statement should help you to stand out and to win over your audience.

Telling Your Story

Some students make the mistake of acting as if their personal statements are resumes. You should instead focus on telling a good story that demonstrates your personal qualities and what is important to you. Your opening line should grab the reader’s attention so that he or she wants to continue reading through its end. Many students start their personal statements with boring sentences such as “The biggest problem I ever encountered in my life was….” Don’t make this mistake. Instead, think about opening by hooking the reader into the action, emotion or tension. Going Ivy co-founder Erin Goodnow’s background in journalism and editing is the biggest asset to you with your admissions essays.

Crafting a Memorable Personal Statement

Whether it is the Common App or supplemental questions from individual colleges, you must respond to a certain question or prompt. No matter what the prompt might be, the focus of your personal statement is you and how you think and feel about different things. You should choose an event from your life that helps you to illustrate personal development and growth. There are some topics that you can carry a risk, however. A trip you’ve taken or a team you’ve participated in can be cliché. While you may have an engaging story to tell about these topics, you should understand that admissions counselors might have a different reaction to them than you’d want. What you write about and how you write about it are critical.

Tailor Your Personal Statement for the School to Which You Are Applying

You should avoid trying to use one personal statement for every school to which you apply. Instead, each personal statement that you write should be tailored for the individual schools. Admissions officers want to know that you are truly interested in going to their school. You might include details about the school and why you want to attend there. If you are a math whiz and want to attend a particular school because of a world-renowned math professor who teaches classes there, talk about that.

Perseverance and Overcoming Obstacles

Some applicants use their personal statements to show how they persevered in the face of a failure or overcame obstacles. This topic has been a prompt for the Common Application for years. Answering this prompt can make very effective personal statements if it is done well. Beware of whining or complaining about something that happened to you. Many colleges use prompts that are designed to elicit stories from applicants about how they deal with failures and problems. These should be focused on real problems and how you adapted or changed in response to facing them.

Supplemental Essays

Some schools also require supplemental essays in addition to your personal statements. With all of the essays that you write, it is important that you read the instructions carefully and follow them. Brainstorming topic ideas and planning how to write your personal statements and essays can help you to write something that is much more memorable. Make sure to follow the word count that is specified, and always proofread. Your personal statements and essays should not contain any grammar or spelling errors, and they should be devoid of typos.

The Importance of Being Genuine

Admissions officers want to understand who you are and how you will fit in if you are admitted to their schools. Because they read thousands of essays, they can pretty readily spot essays that are written with less than a genuine voice. Don’t make the mistake of writing about what you think an admissions counselor at a particular university wants to hear. You want your readers to learn who you are and to like you, and the only way that you can do that is by writing with your own voice rather than in one of a person who you are pretending to be.

How Going Ivy Can Help

At Going Ivy, we can help you to brainstorm ideas for your essay or personal statement. We can then offer an editing eye after you have written your first draft, making suggestions to help you improve it and going back and forth until you are totally confident. It is important for you to understand that admissions counselors recognize that you are young, and they are not expecting you to have the writing skills of a famous novelist. They will want to be able to learn more about you and to see that you have the writing skills that will allow you to complete rigorous college coursework. Your personal statement and essays are places for you to shine, and we can help you to do just that by expert editing. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with the Going Ivy team.

Our Team

Meet our team of former admissions officers, Ivy League and top school graduates, and tutors.

Videos & Testimonials

Free Consult