Good Personal Statement Starters

Examples of Awesome Personal Statements

Article Type: Tasty Bits

Write your own awesome personal statement with our COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY LAB, which will guide you through the process, providing tips and even more examples along the way.

Before you start, check out our own sample essays—or scroll down for the Best of the Web. Whether you're an athlete, a minority, or no one special (or, uh, probably some combination), we've got you covered.

No One Special



Emotional Hardship

Physical Hardship

International Student

Special Skills

Non-Traditional Age

Some are surprising and some are clever, but they're all good examples of a "hook," not the kind with the pointy mustache but something that writers use to grab their reader's attention and make them want to keep reading.

Grab Them with the First Line
Stanford Magazine compiled the following list of great opening lines written by hopeful Stanford applicants.

Essays That Worked
Connecticut College posts a list of college essays “that worked.”

More Essays that Worked
Hamilton College provides access to some of their favorite application essays.

Other Resources for College Essay Writing

Writing the Personal Statement
The Purdue Online Writing lab offers a guide to writing all kinds of personal statements.

UC Berkeley Has a Say
Check out the University of California at Berkeley’s guide to writing the personal statement.

Application Tips: Tackling the Personal Essay provides some good tips on approaching the personal essay.

10 Tips for Writing the College Application Essay
The famous U.S. News & World Report offers some writing advice.

The Elements of Style
Flip through this famous guide to writing by William Strunk, Jr. that many students and teachers use. Read the 1918 version for free online.

Get Your Writing On
Some great handbooks on writing by writing guru Andrea Lunsford.

A Guide to Grammar and Writing
A cool interactive guide to grammar.

Grammar Resources
The University of Chicago’s guide to grammar.

More than 4,000 students began their Ucas personal statement with exactly the same opening line as more than a thousand other students. So much for standing out from the crowd.

Ucas has released the most common opening lines from the 2015 application cycle. Almost all of them featured general assertions about the applicant’s motivation, but the seventh most common phrase was specific to one degree course, used identically by 211 applicants.

Mary Curnock Cook, Ucas’ chief executive, said: “The personal statement is supposed to be personal. Learning to write about yourself in a compelling way is a vital skill when applying for jobs; using hackneyed phrases is not the best way to stand out.”

Be warned future applicants; don’t fall into the trap by using these common phrases to begin your statements.

Most common opening lines from personal statements 2015

1. From a young age I have (always) been [interested in/fascinated by]

Used by 1,779 applicants

2. For as long as I can remember I have…

Used by 1,451 applicants

3. I am applying for this course because…

Used by 1,370 applicants

4. I have always been interested in…

Used by 927 applicants

5. Throughout my life I have always enjoyed…

Used by 310 applicants

6. Reflecting on my educational experiences…

Used by 257 applicants

7. Nursing is a very challenging and demanding [career/profession/course]…

Used by 211 applicants

8. Academically, I have always been…

Used by 168 applicants

9. I have always wanted to pursue a career in…

Used by 160 applicants

9. I have always been passionate about…

Used by 160 applicants

 11. Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world…

Used by 148 applicants

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