Back to College: Admission Essays and Personal Statements

By Peterson's Staff updated on Monday, August 19, 2013

Whether you write every day or haven't written a word in ten years, you can write a quality admission essay or personal statement in order to go back to college. You just need to take the time to do it right!

When writing, you should avoid cliché and generalizations at all costs. However, there are ways to write a piece that will make your application stand out in the continuing education admission process.

Back to college: Admission Essays

Many students assume they know what a school is looking for in the "ideal" candidate. Don't make this mistake! The point of your essay is to show how you, a unique individual, will make a great addition to the campus and to the continuing education courses and programs.

As you write, keep the following in mind:

  • Don't "thesaurus-ize" your essay. Do use your own voice.
  • Don't bore the reader. Do use interesting language.
  • Do use personal detail. Show, don't tell.


Back to college: personal statements

Personal statements are a lot like admission essays when you're returning to college, except the topic is more specifically related to your academic goals. Essentially, you'll highlight your goals and explain why you think the program/programs to which you are applying will help you achieve them.

As they read your statement, an admission committee will look for:

  • Insight into your character
  • Sincerity
  • Background and motivation
  • Goals
  • Fit for the program
  • Writing ability
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