The Personal Statement Mistake Most Students Make (and the #1 Way To Avoid It)

You’re researching colleges, preparing for SAT or ACT, and hoping that the colleges applications won’t be too overwhelming. Did you know that the personal statement is one of the most powerful portions of your applications?

What does will take to create a personal statement that gives you the best chance at acceptance into the college? What do college admissions want to see in a personal statement? What do I put in a personal statement or college essay?

The process of writing your personal statement is just as important as the final product itself. It is an opportunity to learn more about yourself, hone in on what colleges would be a good fit, and inspire yourself to reach for a future that excites you.

Unfortunately, many students overlook certain crucial aspects of the college application process - especially when it comes to writing their college essays.

The Most Common Mistake

Students (and their parents) become overwhelmed when looking everywhere for answers, trying to put all of the pieces together to create a solid personal statement. Many make a terrible mistake that takes a toll on the quality of that essay.

Students feel pressured to be perceived as impressive, well-rounded, accomplished or professional. This perceived pressure causes students to focus on compare themselves to others, which can cause an immense amount of stress.

It does seem like the purpose of the application is to be impressive! You also have a lot to keep track of in order to get all of the application work done.

That’s why this mistake is so easy to make. However, before you can create a quality piece of writing, you as a student must look within yourself.

Protect yourself from stress and negativity before you begin writing your personal statement. Learn how to use your inspiration to instill confidence and clarity within yourself. This will show in your writing, and it will reduce your overwhelm.

What Is Inspiration?

What is inspiration? What inspires you? For many people, this is not a simple question to answer, or the answer feels disingenuous or boring, even to you.

When we talk about “inspiration,” we’re using that word in fairly broad sense. For many people, the word “inspiration” automatically conjures images of cheesy posters about teamwork or leadership of following dreams, but we want to open that up a bit.

While inspiration can be found in the career you hope to someday have or in the activity that you love to do beyond anything else, it can also be something that has caused pain or discomfort. If it bothered you enough to act upon it, that experience could be worth writing about. (Notice that we’re not encourage you to dwell on that pain point, but rather what you did to recover from it.)

Consider it this way: inspiration is anything that compels you to take action. When you take action, you inevitably have an experience. An experience offers you the chance to learn and grow, to add something to your life’s picture that wasn’t there before.

Why Does Connecting with Your Inspiration Create the Best Personal Statement?

While everyone else is scrambling to come up with something impressive, you will be focused, relaxed, and confident because you’ll already have the perfect centerpiece for an application that represents your best self.

Overwhelming yourself with information and ideas for steps to take will increase your level of stress and fear surrounding the entire college application process. This will be especially problematic when it comes to your personal statement, because college admissions want to see the true, genuine you through the pages of your college essay.

Why Does Your Inspiration Matter to Colleges?

Your voice is the window through which admissions readers want to get a glimpse at who you are as a human being. Your inspiration allows you to easily speak with a unique and captivating voice. Colleges want to see that spark and what it has ignited in you. You will be making it easy for them to get a “gut feeling” that you are a good fit.

Beyond that, colleges seek out inspired minds because it’s precisely those minds that take big actions and risks that pay off in the end. It's also what you'll need in order to put to use everything you hope to gain from college in your life later on in life.

It Can Be Easy to Start Early

Part of starting early is finding just the subject and the angle at which you want to approach that subject that feels just right for you. It is process that requires many rounds of sitting down and just writing what’s on your mind at the time, and then sifting back through all those thoughts to find the real gems.

Starting when you have your application deadlines coming up, however, comes with the panic of “I don’t know where to begin, and I don’t have any time, so I need someone or something to tell me what to do — now!” You do not want to be a writer who thinks more narrowly about the prompts, as if you’re writing a school paper. If you are thinking in a more formulaic way, you’ll write a narrow, formulaic, and often cliche piece.

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for a great personal statement. By their nature, the personal statements that make the most impact are the ones that are as unique as the people who wrote them.

How to Find and Use Your Inspiration Now

Now that you get the idea, put it into action! Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t sure what or where you draw your inspiration from.

Join us for our live webinar class, Journey to Your Dream College, where you will learn how to create an outstanding personal statement.

You can get started on your own. Use our free, downloadable step-by-step worksheet, The Personal Statement Inspiration Finder. You’ll find instructions to help you get connected to your inspiration and use that to enrich your personal statement.

Join us If you’d like to learn about how to connect to your inspiration, write an outstanding personal statement, and start your journey to college, don’t hesitate to join us for one of our most popular webinar class events.