Personal Statement Questions

Just about every college applicant will need to face those dreaded college essay questions and personal statements, such as “Life experience that made you grow or change” question. You might be asked to state your goals, personal interests, specific accomplishments, research experience, or some important life event. This is particularly true with graduate and professional school applicants..

But don’t panic. It all means the same. College essay questions, whether about growth or change, are really all about YOU, and how you struggled and persevered; YOU, and how you adapted and overcame; YOU, and some experience that touched or affected your life in a particular way.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can just ignore the college personal statement questions and casually go about your business of writing a fantastic personal statement filled with wonderful adjectives about yourself. You should ALWAYS ANSWER the question. Whether they want to know “Why do you wish to attend this particular college” or whether they want you to “Write about a particular interest or activity that is meaningful to you” always address the issue or question at hand. Just understand, they want to collect more than just supplemental information. 


College Essay Questions Are Designed to Learn About You

Remember the fundamental rule we learned in our previous lesson? That is, colleges simply want to learn more about WHO YOU ARE. They’re hoping that with your personal statement, you’re able to reflect on your attitudes and perceptions of yourself. Hence, a wonderful technique that helps when writing this type of statement, is tracing a particular interest back to its beginnings and showing its progression.

For example, take a look at this passage from an applicant tracing back his lifelong interest of assembling mechanical objects. The essay was part of his application to an engineering school:  

 “As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved taking things apart and putting them back together. It started with Legos, but quickly progressed to a greater variety of artifacts. As an eight-year-old, I would search through the garage of our Palm Desert home in California with my dad’s prized old tool box at hand, looking for new projects.    With almost surgical precision, I’d take apart broken lamps, a radio, or even my brother’s favorite hand-held electronic game. Though I admit, I was better at taking things apart then putting them back together again. Hence, my family nicknamed me “Doctor Destruction.” With the years, I’ve lost my eight-year-old baby face and freckles, but I’ve never lost my passion for uncovering the ins and outs of how things work…”

It’s time now to start writing our essay. We’ll do it by breaking it down by its main components: introduction, body, and conclusion. But first, make sure you’ve seen suggestions and ideas for choosing college essay topics. Once you’re done, let’s move on to the next step on how to start a college essay and begin writing our introduction. 


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