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5 Tips for Great Personal Statement for College

You've included your grades, listed your extracurricular activities, and arranged to have your test scores sent over. Your college application is almost complete -- except for that dreaded personal statement.

Many college applicants find the personal statement difficult to write. That difficulty is only compounded by the pressure caused by competitive acceptance rates at many major colleges.

Not to worry. Here are five great tips to help you out as you sit down to write your personal statement for college.

1. Tell, Don't Sell

Your statement should not be a laundry list of your accomplishments or positive attributes.

Admissions officers can see from your application that you participated in the chess club and the yearbook committee.

Instead of trying to sell yourself in the statement, try telling a story about who you are and what sets you apart from other candidates.

Just as great writers do in fiction, hook the reader up front with a compelling opening line, something that will make them want to read more.

2. Be Genuine

Don't be afraid to reveal a facet of your personality, or an experience in your life, that shows you as less-than-perfect. Again, the goal here is not necessarily to put your best foot forward. Demonstrating that you are human and have some flaws can be very effective.

Remember that admissions counselors have read hundreds, if not thousands, of these essays. They can sniff out the inauthentic personal statements. Make sure yours is a genuine expression of your experience and emotions -- not just what you think they want to hear.

3. Don't Try Too Hard

Those 50-cent SAT words you've spent the last year or two memorizing? Put them away.

Steer clear of vocabulary words that you wouldn't use in everyday conversation. Ditto elaborate sentence construction and an overly academic tone.

Write as though you are telling the story to a good friend, so that your writing reflects who you truly are.

4. Channel Your Passion

There's an old adage that says "write what you know," and we would add, "write what you love."

Choose a topic that you are passionate about, whether it's the lessons you've learned from your autistic brother or how being bullied made you stronger.

Don't just explain that you adore ballet or Victorian literature, though. Connect your passion to your life experience. Show how it has helped you grow, made a difference in your life, or allowed you to connect with others

5. Write, Edit, Rewrite, Proofread

Your personal statement for college is an important piece of writing.

Follow all your English teachers' advice and write several drafts. Enlist the help of family, friends or instructors to read your work and make suggestions. Lastly, proofread your statement carefully! This is not the time to submit work with sloppy errors.

Need More Help Writing Your Personal Statement for College?

Just as with writing a scholarship essay, creating your personal statement for college can be a daunting task. However, if you do your research, organize your thoughts beforehand, and then use these tips to compose a personal, revealing, and authentic essay, you'll be one step ahead of the game.

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