College Admission Essays & Personal Statements

Personal Statement Templates
Fast and easy: Instant download of actual real-life admission essay templates -- here.

The following material is an abridged excerpt of some of the material contained in my eBook titled: Instant College Admission Essay Kit - How To Write A Personal Statement Essay That Will Get You In.


The admission essay and/or personal statement are among the most critical documents making up an application package for admission to a college or university program.

As entry into college and university programs becomes increasingly competitive, the importance of a well-written admission essay or essay-set cannot be over-emphasized. These essays are normally required for consideration for admission into both the graduate and undergraduate programs, although the specific requirements may vary at each level.

Aside from the standard academic performance metrics, such as GPA, these admission essays are the one chance that a student has to show who they are, what they've done, and how they can express themselves. They go beyond the actual academic achievement to show something about the actual "person" behind the application.

It's a chance for the applicant to show their human side to the officials that review admission applications.

Every year, colleges and universities are flooded with thousands of applications for hundreds of different programs. The admission essay and/or personal statement is the one part of the application submission that allows a candidate to differentiate him/her self - to stand out somehow from the crowd among all of those other applicants.

Admission Essay Terminology

The terminology used to describe these documents can be very confusing at times. My research has revealed that there are a number of different terms that are widely used to signify the generic "college admission essay." These terms vary from country to country, and often from school to school within the same country.

Here is a list of the most common terms that are used to describe what is essentially the "college admission essay":

  • Admission essay
  • Application essay
  • College essay
  • Graduate admission essay
  • Personal statement
  • Statement of purpose

Generically speaking, these terms all refer to the same document. However, whichever term is used, each college or university will specify exactly what they want the document to contain in terms of length and specific content.

Admission Essay Requirements

Specific requirements for what must go into the admission essay will vary from college to college and program to program.

Sometimes, the requirement will be to write a one to two page essay on the topic of your choice. Other times, you may be asked to choose an essay topic from a list of pre-specified topics. You will often be given a specific word count limit.

A common approach is to ask an applicant to write an essay that answers a specific question. For example, the question could be something like;

"What are your five most dominant personality
characteristics, and describe how they will affect your
future academic and professional careers?"

In most cases, unless otherwise stated, your essay should range in length somewhere between 700 and 1,000 words (about a page and a half to two pages, single- spaced).

A few universities may even require you to write a "set" of short essays on a list of pre-selected topics (e.g. Harvard).

Medical schools usually have very specific and stringent essay requirements.

Nevertheless, regardless of the specific requirements at a particular university or college, the overall approach to writing an admission essay or personal statement remains essentially the same.

Admission Essay Review Process

Typically, the admission application review process involves three levels of review: admission assistants, associate directors of admission, and the director of admissions.

Your application and essay will be reviewed first by the admission assistants. These people are normally recent graduates, perhaps four or five years older than you. If your overall application conforms with stated entrance requirements and they like your essay, they will recommend it for further review at the next higher level.

The next level is the associate or assistant admissions officer(s). These are normally career employees at the college or university who have spent many years reviewing admission submissions. If the associate admissions person likes your essay, they will pass it up the ladder to the Director of Admissions who will make the final decision.

Together, these three levels are usually referred to as the "Admissions Committee."

Each institution has its own version of this process, but the approach and methods used are essentially the same; a multi-level review, ending with the Director of Admissions who has the final say on all admission applications.

Most colleges and universities receive thousands of applications beyond the number of students that they can admit in any given year. This relatively small admissions review group must review each and every application and read every single essay, for applicants that meet the minimum admission requirements.

Needless to say, during peak periods these people are overloaded with work and often have to read dozens of essays in one day.

This is why it is so important that you write an admission essay that stands out from the crowd.

Your essay must grab the reviewer's attention in the opening paragraph. It must interest them at once and then draw them in so that they will place your file in the basket designated "for further review" that will go up to the next level.

If your essay makes it to the Director of Admissions level, there is a very good chance that your application for admission will be accepted.

What They're Looking For

It's not just about the marks.

The people on the Admissions Committee are looking for much more than evidence of your academic achievements. Enough of that type of information is already included in the other sections of your application.

Colleges and universities are not just looking for academic geniuses these days. As society and the world change, these institutions are looking for people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and interests. They want well-rounded people who they believe can make unique contributions to university life, and eventually to society.

Your admission essay allows you to showcase another dimension of yourself that may not come across clearly in the rest of your application.

It's about YOU, the human being.

The essay can highlight your personal strengths and unique personal characteristics and show you as a well-rounded individual, rather than just an academic achiever.

Don't underestimate the importance of the essay. All other things being equal, it is the essay that will determine whether you get accepted or not.

Writing Your essay "Right"

As stated above, your admission essay or personal statement for entry into a college or university program is likely to be one of the most important documents you'll ever write when it comes to determining the direction of your adult life. This holds true, whether you're applying for an indergraduate program or as a a post-graduate student.
So, it is important to get it right. This is one case where you definitely want to do whatever it takes to "get it right the first time".

You don't ever want to find yourself in the position of second guessing yourself months or years later thinking, "I wonder what would have happened if I had been accepted into Law school", knowing full well that you may have been accepted if you hadn't thrown together a very shaky application essay at the very last minute.

You owe it to yourself and your future to spend the time and effort required to make sure your application includes a quality essay or personal statement.

So, if writing is not your strong suit, the college application essay is one thing that you should seriously think about getting some help with.

Numerous books have been written on the subject, and there is also some good advice available online. The problem with that is that there is also some less helpful information available online. Sometimes it's hard to know which is which.

What You Should Know

I've done extensive research into the subject of writing admission essays and/or personal statements, both offline and online, and I can tell you there are some things of which you should be aware.

Buyer beware!

There are about a dozen "essay writing services" online that claim that they can help you write your essay. And I have no doubt that some, or all of them, can help you to one degree or another.

Nevertheless, here are some interesting facts I've discovered about the "admission essay writing Services business".

  • It's going to cost you anywhere from $100 to $800 to get one of these Services to review, edit, and finalize your essay for you. That's for one essay. Multiple applications will obviously cost you more.

  • The large variation in price is explained by the degree of help that you request from the Service that you choose, the specific service offering of that company, and the price structure of that particular service. Some are reasonably priced, while others are very pricey.

  • With any given Service, the less work you do in planning and developing your draft essay on your own before submitting it to them, the more it will cost you. So, the better the quality of the draft product you give them up front, the less it's going to cost you in the long run.

  • It's important to check what a Service's policy is with respect to what they require from you up front. A number of services refuse to work with you unless you have a draft essay to start with. Others, claim they will work with you in developing an essay from scratch. (This will cost you of course).

  • If your essay or statement needs to be revised for different applications, it will cost you additional amounts for each version of the essay. For example, if you plan to submit applications to four different colleges and/or programs, the requirements for each will vary. As a minimum, you will need four slightly revised versions of the same base essay. The worst case scenario could be the need to develop substantially different statements for each institution. This can get costly using an Admission Essay Service.

  • The quality of the final product will not necessarily be a direct reflection of how much you pay. That is to say that the most expensive service will not automatically give you best job. On the other hand, the least expensive service won't necessarily give you the weakest essay.

Bottom Line: Do your homework when it comes to drafting and finalizing your college application essay(s). Hire an essay-writing service to help you perfect your essay if you must. But make sure you do as much research and preparation as you can in advance of that. This will not only save you a good deal of money, it will also improve the quality of your final essay.

To help people with the preparation and drafting of thir admission essay or personal statement I have recently written and published an eBook titled:

"Instant College Admission Essay Kit - How To Write A Personal Statement Essay That Will Get You In".

Like all of my other "writing toolkits", this one combines extensive "how to" information with "real-life essay templates" that you can download to fast-track the development and writing of your essay. It also contains a number of unique "essay preparation tools" that were developed to break down and simplify the essay preparation and development process.

You can check out that admission essay writing kit at the following link:

In addition, following are links to a couple of sample essays from the Kit:

Undergraduate Applicant. Sample college admission essay. Click here.

Post-Graduate applicant: Sample Personal statement essay. Click here.

Good luck preparing your application. I hope you get into the program of your choice!

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