Think about what you might say about yourself before you start writing: start by
Scribble down a list of your experiences and accomplishments but do not limit yourself to resume items (e.g., what stories do you share with family and friends? what events from the past still linger in your thoughts today? what has changed you recently?).
Talk to other people: what would they include in your biography?
Simply reflect: what is important to you? what gets you excited or moves you to act? what threads form patterns in your life? what do you hope to accomplish tomorrow, next year, or over the course of your lifetime?
Use the writing process as a vehicle for discovery.
Consider writing several different drafts (i.e., experiment).
Once you have spent a good deal of time brainstorming, select one route and try mapping out the main points that would need to be included in a draft.
Try writing a draft within a set time limit (like 30 minutes), and read it later to look for gems (or diamonds in the rough).
Remember that writing is recursive: you might discover that the last paragraph in your third timed writing is the perfect first paragraph for your actual essay.
The best essays go through a series of revisions (10+ drafts). Get input from a number of sources: mentors, writing tutors, and friends.
Stay objective: don’t fall madly in love with your first draft (remember your goal: your writing sample may also serve as the ticket for receiving a scholarship).
People say that a picture equals a thousand words (yes, it’s cliché); however, reverse the idea as you read your essay: does your thousand words add up to one fabulous picture of you?
Package Carefully—Style Tips
Top swimmers and runners often win by a narrow margin—perhaps by only one tenth of one second. With this in mind, remember that execution of detail can also make or break your personal statement when the field is very competitive.