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Many colleges use personal essays as one of their admission requirements. A personal essay is somewhat different from other essays that may be assigned, so it is worth looking at a step by step writing process.

Personal essay definition:

The personal essay is considered to be a short work, generally one to 5 pages in length. It is further characterized by the words autobiography, nonfiction, somewhat intimate in nature and having a conversational tone. It is an outlet of self-expression used by colleges to get to know prospective applicants on a more personal level.

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How to write a personal essay

Before crafting your essay, it is prudent to construct a foundation upon which you will build all your ideas and supporting statements. This foundation is also called an outline, and it serves as a framework which you can use to fill in all the personal information that forms a personal essay.

Construct a personal essay outline

The outline can be very simple or it can be more elaborate. Basically the essay will need:

  1. A captivating opening paragraph
    • This is the most important part of the essay
    • The opening paragraph pulls in the reader and compels them to finish reading
    • It hints to the reader what the essay will be about
  2. A body, consisting of several paragraphs
    • These paragraphs tell your personal story
    • They convey emotion
    • They tell something interesting and unique about you
    • Length of body is determined by word or page requirement as assigned by the teacher
  3. A summary, or closing paragraph
    • Almost as important as the opening paragraph
    • Is the last thing the reader will read, so it needs to be memorable
    • Summarizes what was said in the essay

Use proper personal essay format

First and foremost, the format of the personal essay depends upon any guidelines set out by the college to which you are applying. If the personal essay is being written as a school assignment, then the teacher’s stipulations for format must be strictly followed.

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standard Paper format

300/page,

Times New Roman 12pt

1 inch margins,

APA/MLA/Chicago

Some formatting requirements that may be included are:

  1. Use 5 sentences in each paragraph. This helps you to craft your sentences a decent length; not too long and not too short.
  2. Write in a personal tone about things you have done, people you know, or dreams that you aspire to.
  3. Use specific examples and stick to one theme. If you are highlighting one story, do not go off on a tangent with another story.

Ideas for a personal essay

You may have been given some prompts as part of your personal essay topic assignment or requirement. These are usually in the form of questions, which get you thinking. The answer to these questions is meant to tell a story from your life which reveals something about your personality.

When you are not given specific prompts, you can generate your own ideas using prompts such as these:

  1. How did you overcome a fear?
  2. Why do you think you will succeed?
  3. What is a failure you have experienced?
  4. What would you do over if you could?
  5. Is there a book that has changed your life?
  6. Describe how you have bounced back after a great loss.
  7. What is one thing in your life or in the world that you would change?
  8. Have you made a discovery?
  9. Had a close call?
  10. Where would you live and why?

You can also find hundreds of other prompt ideas on the internet. Personal essay help is available at the various essay writing services that are found online. Personal essay topics for high school students are based on similar questions or prompts as those for college admissions. These will usually be assigned by the teacher. If not, you may find free prompt ideas on the internet or at an online writing service. For those students who feel they are not adequate writers, free personal statement essays are available online quite easily. They provide ideas from which your own personal essay can be constructed.

Personal essay MBA requirements may be slightly different from other faculties asking for personal essays. MBA programs are significantly more competitive between students vying for a seat in the college of their dreams. This makes the entire admission process more aggressive.