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Duke University
Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Why You Should Showcase Leadership in a Personal Statement

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Kaila Barber, from College Essay Guy, in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.


What’s Covered:



In this post, we will discuss some strategies and tips for showcasing leadership, and other essential values and transferable skills necessary for success, in your personal statement essays for applying to college. 

How to Showcase Leadership


Let’s say you want to talk about leadership in your essay, there are many ways you can go about it. You can talk about leadership capabilities and experience through topics such as your organization skills, productivity and making things more efficient, communicating with people, and being a mentor. Categorizing the different skills and components of leadership can help you brainstorm potential topics that will position you as a good fit, and even an asset, for prospective colleges.


In particular, leading through mentorship is a great topic to write about as it is very important because you are creating a safe environment for those around you that fosters personal, academic, and professional growth. Building connections and community and creating a safe space where people can be authentic and feel mutual trust is what mentorship is all about, and having these abilities is a major plus.


Choosing Your Personal Statement 


Writing About a Challenge


If you choose to write about a challenge you overcame, make sure you’re talking about, and focusing on, specific actions you took, and what skill you gained from it. You can include leadership and productivity skills like time management, adaptability, or flexibility if those are relevant. 


Many students, especially during the pandemic, had to help out their families financially. If this describes your experience, or you have gone through similar challenges, you can write about it as  taking on that kind of extra responsibility is a big deal for students studying full-time. From experiences such as this, students gain a lot of real world experience applying skills essential for academic, and later professional, success and those are things colleges want to hear about.


Writing About Your Hobby


A popular topic for personal statement essays is how students turn their hobbies into an interest they now want to study in college. If you choose this topic, you want to make sure you demonstrate the insight you’ve learned from this hobby, as well as the values and transferable skills it has helped you develop. 


Similar to the way we broke down leadership, categorize the different skills you’ve gained from this hobby. You can then also talk about how these skills have influenced your decision to now study your hobby. Remember, the most important thing in this essay is to personalize it to your life story. If your hobby has affected your values and life views, that is a great way to personalize your essay.


A great example of breaking down how your hobbies can change your values is crocheting. A hobby like crocheting takes time and patience. There is a beauty and importance in taking the time to learn and practice the basics so you can then master more complex processes. Someone who writes about their crocheting hobby will be able to talk about how these values, gained through their hobby, changed their life values and helped them develop transferable skills. Crocheting is just one example, but this is the structure you should aim to have if you choose this topic. 


If you’re worried about choosing the right topic, you can always do a topic check with CollegeVine. This is a community feed where you can ask specific questions about the topic you’re considering writing about.