US College Admissions: Writing A Successful Personal Statement

N.b. This post was originally published on the A-List Education website.

Crafting strong personal statements for US universities is time consuming. First you have to get used to the format — the prompts and style of writing are very different than anything a student will have written in their academic career. Then you need to ensure that admissions counsellors will learn something about you through the passage (in an ideal world, reviewing the essay will be the next best thing to meeting you in person!). Between getting comfortable with the task and selecting a unique topic, it can be quite the process!

A-List UK advisors recommend that you give yourself plenty of time to develop these essays. Ideally, Year 12 students can use the Easter holiday to go through a series of explorative exercises, brainstorm ideas and ultimately write a draft or two. The best way to approach this process is with an experienced advisor. However, we’ve developed a few quick ideas that may be of use.

Practice self-reflection

The most successful personal statements are generated after a student spends plenty of time engaging in self-reflection. This usually consists of asking some basic questions such as “what are my primary academic and extracurricular passions?”, “how do I want to contribute to the world?” or “what experiences have prepared me for university?”. These questions can shed light on your core values, which you will want reflected in your university essays.

Think outside the box

Admissions counsellors read loads of essays every year! One way to make a memorable impression is to talk about something a bit different. Often times students feel like they need to discuss something earth shattering, which creates really similar essays! In reality it is more important that you are authentic and demonstrate your passions through a narrative.


Admissions counsellors are not only concerned with the content of your essay, they also want to ensure that you have a strong understanding of mechanics. Read your essay over multiple times to catch any errors in grammar or spelling. Sometimes reading it out loud is the best way to identify issues!

Working with an advisor is the best way to ensure you conjure a strong personal statement for US universities. We are available throughout the Easter holiday and beyond to meet with students for brainstorming exercises, topic development and essay editing. Contact us if you would like to work with an advisor!