Overview of Personal Essay

A personal essay is usually a basic requirement when applying for scholarship, seeking college admissions, and soliciting a job or internship.

Note that a personal essay can be tailor made to suit specific needs or purposes.

Therefore, you should for instance learn how to write a personal essay for scholarship, college admission, and job/ internship application.

The importance of getting it right when writing a personal essay cannot be overemphasized.

Accordingly, just like a personal statementCV, or admission essay, personal essays is a key supporting document.

It helps create a good impression about yourself.

In some cases, personal essays are key undertakings that could be assigned by an instructor as learning and competency analysis tools.

Usually, personal essays can be used to assess:

1. Composition writing skills

2. Language proficiency

3. Creativity


For this reason, skills on how to write a good personal essay come in handy for students at all levels of learning.

These skills should be developed gradually and over time, where regular practice is the most appropriate approach towards learning.

Such practice entails understanding the basic steps of writing an essay.


What is a Personal Essay?

The importance of a personal essay cannot be overstated.

It is necessary to understand what the personal essay entails before you start writing.

Accordingly, the question to ask yourself is, “What is a personal essay?”

Simply, a personal essay can be defined as:

“A type of writing that examines a particular experience or event by narrating it from the perspective of an individual.”

The above definition provides a clear idea on how to write a good personal essay.

From the definition, it is deducible that a personal essay should explore how a personal event or experience changed an individual’s perspective or left a permanent impression on them.

The primary objective of these essays would be to illustrate your strengths, leadership abilities, and capacity to effectively address challenges.


Personal Essay vs. Formal Essay

Good skills on how to write a personal essay for college demands that you understand the difference between a personal essay and other types of essays.

Note that personal essays differ from formal essays in areas such as:

1. Purpose

2. Tone

3. Length


As earlier noted, personal essays talk about an individual’s strengths acquired from or depicted in specific experiences.

Formal essays on the other hand focus on non-personal and objective topics about issues or events.

Further, personal essays assume a more informal and conversational tone.

For the length, personal essays tend to be substantially long, usually between 500 and 1000 words.


Personal Essay vs. Personal Statement

It is necessary to distinguish between personal essays from personal statements.

Past experiences indicate that one of the categories of writings that people are likely to confuse personal essays with is personal statements.

Therefore, when it comes to how to write a good personal essay, you should first clearly establish the differences between these two categories.

Note that these differences are evident in their objective and scope.

As earlier noted, a personal essay seeks to illustrate how an experience changed you.

Writing a personal essay therefore requires you to explain the process through which the change took place.

Differently, a personal statement seeks to illustrate your suitability for a position.

The personal statement is therefore suited for a specific job position or opportunity.


Tips on how to Write a Good Personal Essay

Various tips on how to write a personal essay about yourself can be employed to help craft something more compelling.

Such tips include:


1. Use a Strong Hook

Beginning with a strong hook is one of the key tips on how to write a good personal essay.

A strong hook is essential in catching the attention of the reader from the word go.

Since there are numerous applications, you need to persuade the reader that your personal essay is good enough for consideration.

Such persuasion can be achieved by using an appropriate hook in the first paragraph of the essay.

The hook and the first paragraph should be well integrated to set the tone and scene of the personal essay.


2. Use Appropriate Voice

Use of appropriate voice is another important tip when it comes to how to write a personal essay for college.

Appropriate voice entails employing your own unique story telling style as well as using active voice throughout the essay.

For your voice as the author, you should develop a distinctive way of telling a story, whether it’s through your authority or pacing of the essay.

On the other hand, you should use active verbs to create active voice required for effective forward progression of the story.


3. Be Illustrative

One of the attributes to observe on how to write a personal essay about yourself is illustration.

The essay should not focus on explaining an experience, but rather creating a picture or image about the specific experience.

Such illustration is usually realized through imagery.

Accordingly, a personal essay should evoke the different feelings generated from the five senses.

The questions to ask to help evoke these feeling include:

1. “What was the feeling?”

2. “How did I feel?”


Description used should make readers place themselves at the center of the occurrences/ experiences.


3. Focus on Yourself

It is important to ensure that the personal essay remains “personal”.

The essay must strictly be about yourself.

No matter how good or long you write, if the personal essay deviates from yourself as the focal point, it will fail to impress the reader.

It is expected that you have met numerous individuals may it be family members or in different events who have inspired you.

You can highlight these individuals and the go ahead and explain how interactions with or experiences together influenced your views.

It is erroneous to make such individuals a key highlight of your personal essay.

Instead, good approaches how to write a personal essay for college demands that the essay revolve primarily around you.


4. Focus on Things that Excite You

Astute skills on how to write a personal essay for scholarship, school admission, or any position demands that you focus on what excites you.

In this, you should avoid writing is perceived as to suit the interests of the reader.

You should avoid guessing what the reader wants to read and instead find a topic that elicits interest and feelings in you.

Don’t anticipate what the reader is going to like since there is no standard template for an interesting essay topic or discourse.

It is therefore only prudent to focus on areas or topics you have extensive passion writing about.


5. Be Creative

Creativity is a good element to embrace when writing a personal essay.

Approaches on how to write a personal essay for college requires you to exhibit good levels of creative expression.

Note that although creativity is encouraged, you should avoid going overboard.

The essay should be balanced, where it should embrace creativity and humor without sounding phony or comical.

Embracing such creativity demands proper innovation around your imagination and sense of humor.

Importantly, you should remain authentic in your imagination and jokes.


6. Include Extra Information

When it comes to how to write a personal essay for scholarship or college admission, you are expected to provide information that is not available in other accompanying documents.

The personal essay should be an opportunity to tell more about yourself.

Therefore, when writing the essay, you must put in mind all the other application documents.

You should as such avoid summarizing the different extracurricular activities you have been involved in or any other experiences provided in other documents like the resume.

In summary, it is advisable to write about experiences that illustrate who you are besides your test scores.


Steps on how to Write a Good Personal Essay

Writing a personal essay should be systematic process.

In this process, steps involved include:


1. Preparation

As a the first step on how to write a personal essay about yourself, preparation entails gaining a clear understanding of what is required of you.

You should begin by examining what the reader expects from you, including the information you should provide.

During preparation, you should thoroughly read the instructions, define writing objectives, and determine how your writing should fit within these objectives.

At this point you can conduct basic research on several issues or areas, including the institution, job or position, and relevant history.

Such research can be conducted on online job websites as well as the institution’s website.


2. Determining the Topic

Determining the topic is another key step on how to write a good personal essay.

The step entails deciding on the focus to take in your personal essay, whether about your accomplishments or the impact certain experiences had on your views.

You should determine what angle to assume in the essay and then go ahead to define and narrow down the topic.

It is important to determine the scope of the topic, including the issues to cover and the depth in which to address them.

Make sure that the focus is not too narrow to limit you or too wide to create ambiguity.


4. Creating an Outline

After you have delimited your topic, you should go ahead and create an outline.

The outline should principally be the same as a common essay outline.

Ensure that you get it right since an outline is a key component when it comes to how to write a personal essay for college.

The outline should organize your ideas and thoughts relating to the points you want to put across in the personal essay.

Importantly, ideas and thoughts in the outline should follow each other sequentially to ensure that the essay flows in a logical manner.

You should include only points relevant to the essay topic.


4. Writing the Essay

Writing the essay entails piecing together the personal essay points in a coherent way.

The writing process is not different from that of other essays. It follows the common steps of writing an essay.

Accordingly, skills on how to write a good personal essay requires that you adopt an appropriate personal essay structure.

Such a structure should focus on three areas, including:

1. Introduction,

2. Body, and

3. Conclusion


For the introduction, you should start with a hook, go ahead to contextualize the writing, and then end with a thesis statement.

The body is the meat of the essay and should contain the various points that support your thesis statement.

You should start with the strongest points or those focusing on the most important elements of the personal essay.

Lastly, you should conclude the essay be recapping the main points and tying them to the thesis statement.


5. Proofreading and Editing

After you are done writing, you should go through your personal essay to ensure that it is devoid of errors, and it is coherent.

You should be prepared to edit the essay when and where necessary.

It is recommended that you go through the essay about three times. Where possible, you could request a colleague to read it.

Ensure that grammar and sentence structure is correct.

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