The personal statement can be a HUGE component in tipping admissions results for highly selective colleges (think Top 30s!). These essays are not meant to boast about your academic achievements (which admissions officers will be able to see from the numbered portions of your application such as your GPA, SAT, TOEFL and whatnot), but rather, to show who you are as a person.
Your target audience for this essay is NOT your high school English teacher. If I were you, I would pretend that you are writing this essay for your Curio counselor/mentor – someone who is an authority figure, but at the same time someone you trust and rely on, and can truly be yourself with.
When writing this, I keep this notion at the back of my head:
“If you were reading your own personal statement, do you think you would like to be roommates with this person?”
If the answer was yes, then you’re on track! If not, then I would go back to the drawing board and edit/remove sections where you have not presented yourself as well as you could have.
While there are a list of prompts you can answer for your personal statement, my favorite option is the last option that allows you to pick your own topic. You and your counselor will be brainstorming your personal statement together in due time (if you’re a rising senior!) – College Essay Guy provides some amazing brainstorming resources, and I’m sure your counselor has a few tricks up their sleeve too! 🙂
In addition to the personal statement, some colleges will also have you write supplementary essays to further gauge your interest in them. Below are some common supplementary essay questions that schools ask, and how you can approach them:
Why do you want to attend ABC college?
Why do you want to pursue an ABC major?
Describe a difficulty/challenge you went through.
What does diversity mean to you?
How have you contributed to your community?
Most selective colleges place more emphasis on your supplementary essays compared to the personal statement, but that does not, by any means, render a personal statement obsolete!
As a general rule of thumb, I would advise all my students to write the “optional” supplementary essays – if you have a chance to further prove that you are a good fit for the college, why not take it?