2 years ago
Admissions Advice

how do you write a personal essay for college if you dont have a story

I'm trying to write a personal essay but i don't have a story that's interesting enough to make it pop out

@Gator062 years ago

I recommend using College Essay Guy resources, most of which are free, to help you find your "voice." https://www.collegeessayguy.com/personal-statement

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3 answers

2 years ago

@jeremiahr04 personal essays do not have to be a story at all. None of these prompts on the common app are asking for a story except prompt 1. And if you read prompt 1, they are actually asking for the "dot" that helps connect the rest of the "dots" in your common application like a missing piece of background info, something unique about your identity, special interest, or talent which helps them get a better overall picture of you. That is not a story even though they used the word "story" in their request for more information.

Honestly, I would do this assignment backward if you are stuck. Do this before you pick a prompt. Make a list of your 10 best qualities as a person and your worst qualities. Now run this list by your best friend and your parents. See if they concur and find this self-evaluation accurate. Nevertheless, ask them for their input to add items you forgot or re-shuffle the order. Now with a pen and paper, read your common app thoroughly and see how many of these things are captured on your common app. Focus on your best qualities first. If your common app is missing 1,2,3,5 of these items and has some items from your column B's worst qualities. You have to decide which of these things is most important to incorporate and which things to cut out or delete.

Now, pick a prompt from the 7 which is the best fit for helping you incorporate the attributes about your character, your interests, your passions, or your background that will help the college admissions reader figure out a more complete picture of you. Your common app is like a puzzle. Most people can not complete the puzzle because they are too stuck on the task, and not the goal. The goal of the common app is to give the application reader a clear view picture of who you are and what you stand for and how you think. That way they can determine whether the college is a good fit for you and vice versa. The more complete the picture is, the better chances the admissions officers can do their job better.

What you do not want to do is guess what they think they want to read. Do not do this. Do not make assumptions that you have to use colorful language, and obtuse vocabulary, and write at a level well above your ability. You are a high school kid so it's more important to be complete, honest, and use your voice in your usual way so if they would meet you in person, they would say "yes, I know this person because in person they are who they say they are."

I hope this helps you.

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

2 years ago

I'm also struggling to write a personal statement. I have a lot of different stories but they all turn out negative because my stories have to do with some difficult things I've faced. I think it's not so much about what "story" you have to tell, like an event in your life, but rather how you tell that story.

What are some values your family emphasized? Maybe talk about how you've come to view those values over the years as you've grown up. Make metaphors, etc. I've heard the best essays are the ones about everyday things that are just written well.

2 years ago

Try follow the prompt for the personal essay and try write whatever comes into your mind. It doesn't have to be interesting but you should write something. Try write about the little things that you really liked.

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


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