How to Write a Compelling Personal Essay

Most college applications require applicants to write a personal essay. These essays are meant to shed light on the applicant’s personality and motivations for applying to the college. Given the ever-increasing competitiveness of college admissions, a compelling personal essay can give your child a substantial advantage over other applicants. In this article, we consider a few guidelines for writing effective personal essays.

Focus on a Specific Experience

Focusing on a single experience or specific chain of events will make your child’s essay appealing and concise.

The best admissions essays are both personal and specific. Your child must write an essay that offers a glimpse into their life and way of thinking. General topics will likely be used by many other applicants. On the other hand, unique narratives are personal and provide insight into what your child learned from an experience and how this continues to affect their life.

For example, a generalized essay might talk about the applicant’s love for a sport and how they worked hard to lead the team to a championship victory. In contrast, a more personal essay might focus on a specific practice session that taught the applicant an important life lesson. This essay might not even mention the championship victory.

Your child should clearly explain why their experience is significant. Keep in mind that the essay should not focus on the experience itself; rather, it should show why the experience is meaningful.

Your child’s goal must be to effectively communicate their personality and perspective. If your child accomplishes this while clearly showing the significance of the experience, the admissions officer will be impressed.

Demonstrate Value

No matter what kind of experience your child chooses to write about, it should prove that they will add value to the college. Your child must showcase their personal qualities that will contribute to the campus’s diversity.

To demonstrate value, your child can discuss their plans to continue engaging in an activity in college, explain why they intend to pursue a certain course of study, or discuss the ways in which they hope to bring an interest or passion to campus.

Create Human Interest

Creating a connection with the admissions officer is important. This is perhaps the most important and difficult aspect of writing the personal essay. The essay should be interesting and catch the admissions officer’s attention, but, more importantly, it should create an emotional bond. Your child can accomplish this by giving the admissions officer a glimpse into their life.

Even if the event your child writes about isn’t very emotional, a good essay will make your child’s experience relatable—it will make the admissions officer feel as if they know your child personally. However, creating human interest does not mean writing a sob story or going to some other extreme. The essay should be written in a carefully balanced but authentic, positive tone. Also, remember that it must tie in with the application’s overall theme and narrative.

Carefully Revise and Proofread

Once your child has a first draft of their essay, they should get some feedback. Early in the drafting process, your child should not focus on editing and refining the specific language of the essay. Rather, they should make sure that their personality shines through in the content. Early feedback will help your child determine whether the essay’s content is suitable.

Transforming the initial version of the essay into something compelling will require your child to create several drafts. Along the way, they will likely need to add or remove content, replace generic descriptions with unique details, and refine the language. After making all of these changes, your child will also need to carefully proofread the essay to make sure that their writing is excellent.

Writing an insightful personal essay requires careful planning and hard work. Ivy League Prep is committed to helping your child create an exceptional admissions profile. Book an initial consultation today and get started on the path to admissions success.