Outsmart the Personal Statement


How to Write an Effective University Application Essay

With deadlines for college transfer applications approaching, we teamed up with Senait Tesfai from SCC’s Writing & Learning Studio to bring you 10 tips for writing a successful personal statement.

  1. Read the questions thoroughly being asked by the university.
  2. Create an outline before you start writing. List experiences, classes you’ve taken (you’ll want your transcript in front of you), work experience, etc., and what you have gained from those experiences. Brainstorm, map out and list what you want to say.
  3. Once you have information, you can begin writing. Writing a personal statement is like writing a narrative essay about yourself. Tell the college who you are.
  4. Make yourself stand out. Colleges read hundreds of thousands of personal statements. What makes you unique? What stands out about you? What do you bring to the table?
  5. Students often leave out volunteer work and internships they think are irrelevant to their major, but you will want to lay out everything. Colleges want a student with passion and purpose.
  6. Explain why you are interested in your major or program and write about what the university offers you. Be able to identify the language and culture of the university. If their campus is local, visit the campus and its neighborhood to get a feel for it. Do they have small class sizes or certain workshops that would benefit you?
  7. At the end of the statement, show gratitude. Express a desire to learn at their university and why you want to learn at this specific university.
  8. Revision is important: make sure everything is mechanically correct and flows effectively. Add an attention getter at the start of your statement. For example, create a scenario or give examples that can engage the reader.
  9. Make sure to save your document on a flash drive in case your server fails.
  10. Don’t apply to just one university, apply to as many as possible and don’t wait for the deadline, apply on time.

If you need any extra help, visit the Writing & Learning Studio on the third floor of the library, where Senait and SCC’s other English tutors will be happy to help you.

By Tyler Hanthorn,
Staff Writer