How do you write a personal statement?

Gaining admission to the college of your choice requires a demonstration of your writing ability.  It takes a simple form.  You must write a personal statement.  You must take this seriously.  Your acceptance may depend upon it.

How do you write a personal statement?  First of all; it’s personal.  Forget the idea that someone else can write it for you.  Sure, they can.  I could write it for you from here.  Do I know you?  Of course not.  Neither does anyone else you might hire.  A professional can craft a fine sounding piece of rhetoric – maybe.  Eventually you’ll be found out.  You’ll be asked to write something when you can’t hire your mouthpiece.  Or you’ll reveal your device when you speak to the admissions representative and don’t sound anything like the person revealed in your statement.

But, you ask, my sister, brother, or parent knows me; why can’t they write my statement for me.  This is better.  Family members do know you, after all.  Unless your circumstances are extraordinarily unusual though, they don’t sound like you.  Again, you will likely be discovered.

What do you do?  If you’re reading this, it’s reasonable to assume you have either no writing ability or no confidence in your writing ability.  If it’s the second there’s a simple solution: write your statement to the best of your ability.  Then show it to you English teacher, or, better, several English teachers.  What do they say?  If it’s good, they’ll tell you.  They’ll provide the confidence you’re lacking.  Suppose they have reservations?  Ask them how they think you could improve your statement.  Listen to their advice, take notes, and try again.  Repeat.  This is, after all, how we all learn to do things: we practice, get coaching, and try again.  You don’t learn to paint, or play ball, or swim by being told how; you practice what you are shown how to do.  You are helped, corrected, when you make a mistake.  Then you try again.  The same is true of writing.  You are shown by people who know how to write.  You practice writing.  They evaluate your effort and make recommendations.  You try again.  You also read good writing to discover how others do it.  If you don’t write well now, then begin the process.  Work hard.  Develop your skill.  You have time, if it really matters to you.  And, if you reveal your lack of skill in college, you are going to be required to take a composition course anyway.  Why not begin now?

The first step should be to read.  Read autobiographical essays – books, if you have the time.  Watch how others do it.  Pay attention to their techniques.  Practice writing what they have written – in their words, even.  Make their methods yours through practice.  Do this every day for a month.  Then try doing it without copying.  Try to fly on your own.  Then take it to your English teacher and ask for input.  And, as I said, take notes – and repeat.  You’ll be able to write it.  It will sound like you.  It will come from your heart, and you will succeed.  You’ll also be proud of your own efforts.

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