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5 Steps to Writing a Better Personal
By Colby

When I was getting ready for college applications I read about a dozen books on the process. Books on writing the personal statement, books on words to use while writing the personal statement, books on how to make yourself sound like the perfect student, books on how to be the perfect student... I could go on forever! But what amazed me the most about those books was how they spent more time freaking me out than actually helping me! Bottom line, unless you apply to just one school and that school is like Harvard, chances are, you'll get in somewhere. So stop worrying. Selling yourself to colleges isn't that difficult. Think like a salesman. Your job is to sell the sizzle, not the steak.

So what does that mean? Plenty. Every student sending out a college application has decent stats. But what separates the accepted student from the rejected one is the personal statement. Statistics and scores are great, but schools want people not numbers. If you want to catch their eye, you have to sell them you. And you sell them you with your words.

Step 1: Hook Them.

Have you ever sat through an incredibly boring PowerPoint and thought to yourself, "OH MY GOSH, when is this going to end!?" Admissions officers have to read hundreds, sometimes even thousands of personal statements. You don't want them to be thinking that when they read yours. Think about it, thousands of students each year send in applications to colleges across the country. And chances are, their personal statement sounds like all the rest - tired and boring. Unfortunately, a tired and boring personal statement can make you look tired and boring too.

Your first paragraph of your personal statement should, rather MUST, hook them in! Blow them away with your personality, your finesse, and your intelligence with the opening. This is known as the hook.

Lets say that you're an above average student with decent grades, on the soccer team, and interested in majoring in business in college. Sounds like a student that you can find on any high school campus. Lets turn this average student into an above average student with an impressive hook:

"The sun was lustrous and hot. Its rays beat against my back with a vengeful ardor. I could taste the tension in the air. It was the last game of the season. The one that would determine our destiny. And it took every last drop of patience that I had learned in class not to blow the game."

Were you hooked reading that? Did you want to read more? This is what I mean when I say hook them. Leave them wanting more. Taking something as simple as a soccer game and turn it into a literary masterpiece. Your hook doesn't have to be about an athletic game, it can be about any event that has happened in your life. However, the only way to write an excellent hook is to PRACTICE. Take the same event and write it several different ways. Try to tie that event to a school lesson. Show it to your friends and family and get suggestions. Do not be afraid of adjectives; they are your friend.

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