Although nobody knows you better than yourself, writing about yourself is not always an easy task. At the same time, personal essays are unavoidable when it comes to scholarship applications. Personal essays are also a very common type of college assignment, and to get to college, you should write an admission essay, which is also personal by nature.
Perhaps the most common challenge associated with personal essays is that students don’t know where to start. You should have at least a general understanding of what your readers expect you to write. Besides, you must stick with the right style and tone. Approach writing a personal essay as an opportunity to share some of your real experiences and tell your readers what you’ve learned from them or how they changed your life.
Dos and Don’ts of Personal Essay Writing
First of all, you should stay within the required word count. Usually, personal essays are somewhere between 400 and 1000 words, and students find it equally hard to write it, regardless of how long an essay should be. Sometimes, you might be able to choose a topic yourself, and sometimes, a topic may be assigned to you. Try to make your personal essay as honest as possible because it must be authentic. Don’t make up stories but think of challenges that you faced in your life or other interesting and significant events.
Make sure that the events that you describe are relevant. Given that you need an essay for a specific purpose, you should consider it when choosing a topic. For example, your essay may focus on your knowledge and skills, work experience, educational background, or career and life goals. Avoid sensitive and controversial subjects because you don’t want to divide your audience.
Stay away from such subjects as religion, politics, race, or gender. You may have learned a lot from some negative experiences associated with these topics, but a good approach is to demonstrate your positive attitude and stick with a positive tone.
You may mention challenges associated with your race or sexual orientation, but focus on how you managed to overcome them and how they made you stronger.
Make sure that your essay is easy to read. Avoid overcomplicated sentences and unnecessary terms. Use synonyms to make your writing less monotonous and more diverse, but don’t use complex terms if you can replace them with simple alternatives. We also recommend that you always read, edit, and proofread your essays before submitting them.
Best Tips To Write an Essay About Yourself
Determine the main questions
Read your prompt carefully and write down key questions that you will answer in your essay. All these questions should be related to the main question of your prompt. For instance, if the prompt asks you to write about challenges that you had to overcome, a list of the questions that you will answer might revolve around your family, educational background, and challenges that you faced when pursuing your goals. Just break down the main topic into subtopics so that you can plan the overall structure of your essay.
Write an outline
It will be difficult for you to write a well-structured and focused essay without a clear outline. Once you’ve determined the main questions of your essay, brainstorm your answers. Just write down any ideas that come to your mind, and then select the three best ones. This way, you will have three key points for three body paragraphs of the essay. We also recommend that you write a draft of your introduction because it’s one of the most important parts of the essay. Your readers may or may not want to read the whole thing depending on how good your introduction is.
Use the first person
Although the use of the first person is generally prohibited in academic writing, personal essays are an exception so you should use this opportunity to write in the first person. You can not only reflect on the events from your life but also dive deep into your experiences and narrate your story. Using the first person and sticking with an active voice will help you make your essay engaging.
Make it as personal as possible
Show your personality. Your essay shouldn’t be boring. It must be engaging, authentic, and unique, being focused on your personal perspective. Demonstrate who you are. For example, you can show some emotions or add a little bit of humor, if it’s appropriate. We’ve already mentioned that your personal essay should revolve around your personal experiences so make sure to provide some examples from your life. Stay away from generalizations. For instance, instead of simply writing “I love to play football,” you may mention your favorite coach, your first team, or provide other details that will make this statement more specific and personal.
Don’t afraid to be vulnerable
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. When writing personal essays, especially when dealing with admissions essays, you should demonstrate your self-awareness. Mention what you’d like to improve in yourself. This way, your essay will be more honest and complete.
Bonus Tip: Make Your Essay Impressive But Stay on Your Topic
Many students are afraid that their essay will look like an attempt to show off and brag about their achievements. The truth is that a personal essay is a great opportunity to highlight your strengths, achievements, and other things that you like about yourself. The main thing is to stick to the main topic and make sure that everything that you mention is actually relevant.