What does the Personal Essay mean?
The word, personal, is confusing. It does not mean this is finally a place to spill your guts.
It means that it is a story that only you can write. It is personal to you.
For a list of what not to write, review Appendix 1 in Writing the Common Application.
The traits of consistency, initiative, and passion will surface in your Activity List.
The personal essay should demonstrate your ability to analyze a situation.
How you think about a subject makes it personal, a story that only you can write.
The highest level of an essay is when you demonstrate aptitude – applying what you learn in class to another situation. That’s what education is all about and that is why you are going to high school and college – to gain and transfer knowledge to your real world life.
All essays have a context or a situation that you experience – that’s usually the first several paragraphs. The rest of the essay is where you shine by critically analyzing the situation.