10 Personal Statement Essay Examples That Worked
Your personal statement is any essay that you must write for your main application, such as the Common App Essay, University of California Essays, or Coalition Application Essay. This type of essay focuses on your unique experiences, ideas, or beliefs that may not be discussed throughout the rest of your application. This essay should be an opportunity for the admissions officers to get to know you better and give them a glimpse into who you really are.
These personal statement essay examples were all written by real students. For each example, we provide a first draft, what the writer can improve, and the revised version. View the complete list of personal statement examples towards the bottom of the post.
Personal Statement Prompt
Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
Personal Statement Essay Example, First Draft
Thoughts on the Essay and How It Can Be Improved
The author has drafted a thoughtful coming-of-age story by exploring their relationship with their parents and how it influenced their own ability to independently make decisions about their interests and goals. As they imply in their essay, self-determination is a process which all children must undergo at some point—they must find who they are, what they like and believe, and what they hope to accomplish free from the influence of the pillars in their life who have largely determined that for them up until the point of realization. Consequently, the topic isn’t inherently unique, however their interpretation and execution of this process could help their essay to stand out from the pile.
First of all, they need to identify who is the spectator/the learner in the essay. It’s important for the author to understand why they care so much that their parents recognize their independence. Ultimately, they’ve made clear to the reader that they had to become independent as a result of circumstance, hence they were walking in their independence long before either of their parents truly acknowledged it. Did they feel that they could only truly accept themselves as independent once their parents accepted it? This feels a bit contrary to the whole theme of independence and self-motivation, so the author should take a step back and reflect on who should be doing the “realizing” here, both because of the question the prompt is asking, as well as the nature of the topic. They should also spend more time reflecting on their own realization about their adulthood and how they came to take the reigns of their own future. What did this feel like? Was there a particular moment when they realized that the work would no longer be done for them? How did they grapple with this sudden burden of responsibility? The essay needs to focus on their own realization here, and less so on the process of proving their maturity to their parents.
Secondly, the author should take a step back and think about what true independence and adulthood means to them. Though the essay focuses on this coming-of-age period in their life, they never talk specifically about what this peak achievement would mean for them personally. Was it that they could get on a plane and go to Morocco and be alright without their parents, or was it that they had the ability to decide that they were interested in an immersive experience and that they took the necessary steps to achieve this interest? Adulthood and independence mean different things to different people and look a little bit different to each of us depending on our different situations. It’s important that they identify what it is that was most significant to them when it comes to their own journey to independence and adulthood.
Lastly, the essay could benefit from a deeper exploration of their relationship with their parents. The author talks in very broad terms about how they were raised and how their separation led to growth. Early in the essay, they mention a battle between their wishes and those of their parents. What did these conversations, either internal or external, look like? Did they constantly find themselves questioning their own actions or did they outward question their parents’ and their decisions regarding them? Did the author’s relationship with their father change once he moved? They should show this in their writing, rather than telling it.
Remember that the success of the essay depends on the ability to deeply personalize it and explore the relevant emotions and reflections associated with each step in the journey to adulthood. While their journey to adulthood may include their parents, this essay should center around the author and their own recognition of their personal milestones and accomplishments.
The Revised Essay, Final Draft
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