From the Colleges: Pro tips on writing your personal statement

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By the admissions staff at Johns Hopkins University

Hello high school seniors! We know that writing your essays can seem especially daunting when applying to college. But the essays are a great opportunity to add depth to something that is important to you and address a topic you’re not able to cover elsewhere in your application.

The essays reveal how you learn, what you value, or how you approach challenges, which helps the admissions committee imagine how you might approach the living and learning environment at their school.

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So how do you get started?

As you sit down to start or continue writing, we want to share some tips for tackling the college essay:

  • Answer the question being asked in the prompt. This may seem obvious, but make sure your essay answers what is being asked!
  • Tell the reader something new. Instead of listing all of your extracurricular involvements again, use this opportunity to show a different aspect of yourself. Your essay works together with all parts of your application and doesn’t stand alone.
  • Be you. It’s important to write naturally and be true to yourself in your essays — use your voice to talk about your passions, academic interests, life experiences, or other topics.
  • Edit and proofread your essays carefully. Then have someone else, preferably a teacher or counselor, edit and proofread them as well. Spell-check doesn’t catch everything.

If you’re searching for some inspiration, check out Essays That Worked on the Johns Hopkins admissions website. Here you’ll find selected examples of successful essays as nominated by our admissions committee, along with notes from the committee describing why the essay worked for that particular student. This can be a great resource to help jump start or strengthen your own essay.

It’s important to check each school’s requirements to see which essays you will need to submit. At Hopkins, our requirements include a personal statement and supplemental essay regardless of which application you submit.

We hope the examples on Essays That Worked inspire you to write your own essays with enthusiasm and confidence. The most important thing to remember is to be yourself while sharing your own story, thoughts, and ideas. So relax, take a deep breath, and get typing!

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